One Monday morning, you receive one of these three emails from the boss. Each of the emails offer a reward ranging from cash bonus of about $30, a rare compliment from the boss or a voucher for free pizza. Which of these rewards will motivate you to improve your productivity?
In Dan Ariely’s upcoming book, Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, an experiment was performed involving employees at a semiconductor factory in Israel. The same scenario as the one depicted above unfolded with workers receiving one of the three messages during the start of the workweek. A group did not receive any of the messages that promised rewards; this was the control group of the Ariely’s experiment.
The semiconductor factory was an ideal venue for the experiment because the workers contributed a tangible output. A certain number of computer chips must be produced every day which is measurable. One the first day of the experiment, pizza was proven to be a top motivator because it increased productivity by 6.7% compared to the control group. The compliment for a job well done increased productivity by at least 6.6% as against the control group. Surprisingly, cash bonus was the worst motivator because it only generated a 4.9% increase in productivity compared to the control group.
The financial reward was not too big at $30 but what happened over the next few days was surprising. On the second day of the working week, those that received the offered money reward performed poorly by 13.2% worse than the control group. The company ended up spending more for the cash bonus that resulted into a 6.5% drop in productivity. From the perspective of the employer, the cash bonus was worse than not offering anything at all. Employees loved pizza and positive compliments particularly the pizza that was delivered directly to the homes of employees who managed to hit the target.
Companies do not need to invest a fortune to ensure that employees are properly motivated through team activities. There are several customized event packages depending on the objective and budget for the corporate event. However, it is important to determine the needs of the team before an events package can be designed.