Surprising New Way to Motivate Employees

Think that only cold, hard cash keeps employees motivated? A fun study found that the promise of pizza actually made workers more productive.

Today’s up and coming workforce of millennials might have some different motivations than previous employees. Shocking, we know. For instance, a recent panel discussion held by Fortune shared that companies who offer concrete rewards, which recognize hard work, were more impactful with younger workers than cash. Also important was non-monetary rewards such as time off to volunteer. That’s not to say that money isn’t important. A study conducted by IBM found that 42 percent of millennials still cite more money (as well as a more creative workplace) as their main motivation for switching jobs, tying with baby boomers and right behind Generation X (47 percent).

Pizza Motivation

But we started off this post with something about pizza, right? What was that about exactly? Well Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely has written a book about an experiment he conducted with computer chip assemblers to determine if money was truly the workplace motivator that we all think it is.

Ariely divided the factory workers into four groups—one was promised a pizza for increased productivity, another group was promised compliments and a third was promised a cash bonus of around $30. The final group served as a control and received no promise of a reward. The results? Drumroll please … the group that was promised pizza increased their productivity by 6.7 percent over the group that was promised no reward. What’s more over the course of an entire week, the group that was promised a cash reward experienced lower productivity, meaning the cash reward ended up costing the company money.

At Ethos

So yes, sometimes at Ethos we call in an order for takeout pizza as a treat for everyone at lunch. (Although, truth be told, it’s not because we have some sinister plan to motivate employees, it’s because we’re feeling lazy and hungry.)

And on those occasions that we must stay late or come in over the weekend, we reward ourselves with a meal on the company. We also keep a well-stocked fridge of drinks and some yummy, sugar-filled snack jars for when we need a quick pick-me-up. After all, there has to be some truth to the old adage of food being the way to a person’s heart.

Final thought—remember that pizza rat that was all over the news earlier in the year? Maybe the famed New York rodent was merely taking his bonus home to enjoy.