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article imageIs free pizza more motivational than money?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 6, 2016 in Business
New research suggests that employees work harder if they are given free pizza rather than extra cash. The study touches on the way people respond to different levels of reward.
The study is described in a recent book by writer and psychologist Dan Ariely. The book is titled “Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations.” In the book Ariely outlines a study on employees undertaken in a factory in Israel.
With the study, workers were mailed messages at the beginning of the week informing them they would receive a reward provided they achieved a certain work target by the end of the week. The workers were divided into four groups. One group was told they would receive $30; another group were promised a voucher for a free pizza.
There was also a third group who were told they would receive a text message from the head of the company congratulating them; and a fourth group, who were not offered any kind of incentive.
The outcome was, according to New York Magazine, that the group offered pizza as an incentive achieved the highest work rate. Second was the group who were offered a cash reward. The pizza group achieved a 6.7 productivity increase and the cash group a 4.9 percent productivity increase.
As time went on, there was a shift in the positions. The group offered nothing remained in last place. However, the group offered cash slipped to third place and the group sent the congratulatory text rose to the top. The pizza reward was at number two on the list.
Attempting to explain this, research scientist Adam Grant told The Wall Street Journal: “Extrinsic motivators can stop having much meaning — your raise in pay feels like your just due, your bonus gets spent, your new title doesn’t sound so important once you have it.”
The results of the study are not scientifically robust to apply to every situation. However, they suggest that simply offering cash incentives, in the absence of praise, is not the best way to get the best out of people.
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