One would think that workers would prefer extra cash over a “well done” compliment by their employer or a free slice of pizza, but a recent study proves us wrong. Psychology professor Dan Ariely at Duke University conducted an experiment related to motivation in workplaces. His findings showed that employees prefer a praise from their boss and free pizza instead of extra money.
The experiment was first conducted in Israel. Ariely sent messages to 3 out of 4 workers at a semiconductor factory offering each group a different award for assembling a number of chips on a daily basis.
The first group was promised a $30 bonus, the next a “well done” message from their boss, and the third a voucher for pizza. The fourth group didn’t get any message.
In the beginning of the experiment’s week, the group which was offered free pizza showed the highest productivity with a 6.7 percent increase and the group offered a praise from the boss increased its productivity by 6.6 percent.
It was surprising but the group which was offered cash just saw a 4.9 percent increase in productivity. The second day, the cash-motivated group’s productivity decreased. They performed worse by 13.2 percent over the control group. Over the week, this same group saw a decrease in productivity by 6.5 percent.
The winner was the praise-motivated group with the free pizza group coming second in increased productivity. The control group came third leaving the cash-motivated group last. So it would be best for the boss to give them no motivation at all.
The study showed that people appreciate recognition for their efforts in the work environment by receiving compliments and good deeds instead of easily spent money.