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It has long been known that intrinsic motivation, such as having fun at work, is more creative than extrinsic factors such as bonuses. Employers would do best to leverage both factors , says Professor Charlotte Malycha of the International School of Management (ISM). She and her team discovered that appreciative feedback like a thank-you card or praise can motivate employees more than additional money. Finding out which needs play a particularly important role for the respective employee nevertheless requires effort and sensitivity. While some employees might find publicly expressed praise embarrassing, others visibly enjoy it.

As career coach Martin Wehrle writes at handelsblatt.com , too much of a good thing is nevertheless not conducive. The beneficial effect of praise and appreciative gestures risks wearing off if used too frequently. In his opinion, the best way to motivate employees is through fair treatment and payment as well as honesty.