We have spoken in the past about ways to reward your staff that are free or low cost but now comes research from a new book that backs this up. Dan Ariely carried out a study at a factory in Israel, documented in his book “Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations”, which showed that pizza was a better motivator than money.

Low-Cost Incentives


In the experiment four groups of workers were offered various incentives to complete their work on time: free pizza, a $30 bonus, a text of thanks from their manager and with one group being offered nothing as a control. The experiment lasted a week and to begin with there was a 6.7% increase in productivity to those offered pizza compared to 4.9% for those offered cash. However, at the end of the week the highest productivity levels were from the group offered the thank you text. Next up was the pizza group, then the control group and finally those offered the cash.

To be clear this means, in this limited trial, that there was a higher productivity seen from those offered NO incentive than those offered a cash bonus.

Appreciation Matters


Speaking to the the Wall Street Journal psychology professor Adam Grant said “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. But the sense that other people appreciate what you do sticks with you.”

So when looking at motivating your staff don’t overestimate the power of a simple thanks or the power of a pizza.