Pizza motivates staff more than money


Something for the weekend: Although many employees are partial to a cheese-topped pizza feast as a takeaway treat, academic research has found that the moreish Italian classic is a better motivator for staff than a monetary bonus.

Dan Ariely, a professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, found that offering a voucher for a free pizza motivates employees more than a £20 cash bonus.

In his book, Payoff: the hidden logic that shapes our motivations, Airey uses the example of an experiment carried out on staff at an Intel factory in Israel to discuss what motivates staff.

At the beginning of the working week, employees received a message detailing the reward they could gain if their workloads were completed. One group was offered a cash bonus equating to approximately £20, a second group was told they would receive a compliment from their boss by text message and a third group was offered a voucher for a free pizza. A further control group received no message and would not gain a reward.

After the first day, results showed that those in line for a pizza prize had a productivity boost of 6.7%, while those who were due to receive a compliment increased their productivity by 6.6%. Employees in the cash bonus group only increased their productivity by 4.9%.

By the end of the trial week, the promise of earning a compliment proved to be the best motivator, followed by the thought of free pizza. Those who would not receive any reward came in third with the monetary bonus falling into last place, performing 13.2% worse than the control group.

Here at Employee Benefits, we’re rather partial to pizza ourselves, although a coffee and cake session would also get us ploughing through our workloads!