If you’re in the habit of slurping down three or four coffees a day and taking an ice cold shower every morning just to get into gear and stay focused at your job, there may be an alternative solution: a study has suggested that the prospect of a delicious cheesy pizza can make you more productive in the workplace.
The study, led by psychologist Dan Ariely and published in his book Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, examined employees who assembled computer chips at an Intel factory in Israel – in particular, the motivations that made them work harder.
The subjects were given three messages at the start of the week, each containing a different incentive for completing daily tasks: a small cash bonus (about $40), a compliment from their boss, and pizza (about a quarter received no message at all, thus serving as the study’s control group).
Right off the bat, the prospect of free pizza proved to be a powerful motivator, with productivity up by 6.7 percent over the control group. Those with the promise of a compliment increased their productivity by 6.6 percent. And surprisingly, the cash bonus increased productivity by just 4.9 percent in comparison to the control group.
Over the course of the week pizza continue to prove a strong motivator, and despite dropping to closer the baseline set by the control group, came out a close second to compliments as the mos powerful incentive.
However, as The Cut notes, Ariely believes pizza would have come first if his original plan for the it to be delivered to the workers’ homes had come to fruition. He says in the book: “This way […] we not only would give them a gift, but we would also make them heroes in the eyes of their families.”
Interestingly, the cash bonus ended up costing the company more money and resulted in a significant drop in productivity. Who can blame the workers though – we’d take a piping hot pizza over cold hard cash any day!