Reinforcement VS Motivation

 In Motivation, Reinforcement

What Is Positive Reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement is a simple concept. If you reward behavior, it is more likely that it will be repeated. Employers should create a positive environment that encourages productivity, motivation, and discourages turnover.

Reinforcement can be used in behavioral analysis as well as in operant conditioning, which is a type of intentional behavior change. It’s a way to increase the likelihood of a desirable (measurable) behavior.

To encourage a desired behavior, reinforcement is when someone is given a reward (i.e. “positive reinforcement”) or spared an unpleasant consequence (“negative reinforcement”)

Incentive programs (e.g., bonuses, commissions, etc.) Managers can offer their employees positive reinforcements, or incentives, to help them achieve desired results such as increased sales.

rewarding accountability for employees, workplace incentive rewards programsThere are two types of Reinforcement

  1. Positive reinforcement: A reward for a positive behavior that is repeated more often.
  2. Negative reinforcement: When a behavior is corrected or removed, it is used to decreasing the likelihood of repeating that behavior.

Reinforcement Vs Motivation

It is important that reinforcement be distinguished from employee motivation. Motivation is a primary psychology system, which is largely cognitive. Motivation is mostly internal and is felt by employees. We can only see the effects of subsequent behavior. However, reinforcement is usually externally administered and is easily observed. Supervisors may encourage desirable behavior, but they don’t know the motivations behind it. A supervisor might say “That’s interesting” when presented with a new idea. This could be reinforcing innovation, and increasing positive reinforcement. It is important to distinguish between reinforcement and motivation theories.

Motivation is a motivator that inspires, motivates, and gets people involved. People are more likely to succeed if they are motivated to make and sustain a change.

There are two types of motivation. Managers are well aware of the importance intrinsic motivation. However, they tend to focus more on extrinsic motivation such as pay increases and bonuses. These are more effective at boosting performance in tasks that require mechanical skills. Intrinsic motivation is more effective for cognitive skills. It is driven by inner feelings, the satisfaction or enjoyment that we have.

How To Use Reinforcement In The Workplace

Reinforcement theory describes in detail how individuals learn behaviour. Managers must make sure that employees are not rewarded simultaneously when they try to motivate them. They should tell employees directly what they are trying to achieve and the rewards from the behaviour.

People are more likely to repeat behavior that is rewarded than those that are not. Recognise and acknowledge a person’s behavior if you want to encourage it in the workplace. Depending on the actions, you might even reward it.

If you wish to see less of a behavior in an employee, give direct feedback and constructive feedback. If the behavior is severe, discipline may be necessary.

You can also confront your employees and discuss their behavior with them honestly and head-on. While these are not the best or most effective ways to change behavior, it can be used in the workplace. Sometimes this style of feedback is often very unfair and hurtful that cause more harm than good, distrust, break down relationships and make it difficult for employees to feel rewarded.

You can give reinforcement feedback at any time. Your direct reports will help employees appreciate the reinforcement feedback you give them more often. You should be consistent with your reinforcement and enforcement. It is confusing to not discuss with employees the certain behavior needed but then on the other hand still discipline or punish them for it.

Two basic goals should be achieved by positive reinforcement at work:

  1. Recognise the actions or behaviors of another person.
  2. Encourage the person to continue the behavior.

This second goal depends on reinforcement occurring as soon as possible following the initial action or behavior. The importance of time is crucial. A delay in responding makes it less likely that the person will repeat the desired behavior or action. It’s almost like the delay in responding breeds confusion or uncertainty. An employee who is worried about the reasons a supervisor is not talking about a large closed sale will be less likely to rush to close another one.

Examples of positive reinforcement

Example: A company may have a rewards program where employees are awarded prizes based on how many items they sell. If employees increase sales, they receive positive reinforcement by way of prizes.

Example: A supervisor may give a monetary reward to the employee who exceeds his expectations. The positive reinforcement of good behavior is achieved by providing a monetary reward.


Positive reinforcement refers to the practice of rewarding employees for good behavior. This is done in order to improve that employee’s behavior. When you praise someone for doing a great job, it increases the chance that they will do the same job again. Positive reinforcement can both influence behavior and improve an employee’s self-image.

It communicates expectations clearly and strengthens the link between rewards and high performance. It encourages employees to be more positive after learning new techniques and reinforces their behavior. For more information on how to influence and reward your teams behaviour contact our team for details on our coaching and training.

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