Job satisfaction is at a 20-year low in the U.S., and we’re spending more and more time at work. Some researchers say there's a cheap and effective way to boost happiness and productivity.
Rather than award employees bonuses, either as individuals or in teams, employers who give money to their workers to spend on charities or on their colleagues get better results, the researchers reported this week in the journal PLOS One.
The researchers looked at three experiments. In one, workers at an Australian bank were given $25 or $50 to donate to the charity of their choice. In the others – done with 11 recreational dodge ball teams and 14 pharmaceutical sales teams – a third of the members of each team were selected to receive $20 they could spend on themselves or on their teammates.
Altruism is a deep-seated part of humanity, the researchers said. They call these sorts of awards “pro-social bonuses.”
The researchers said there’s an assumption that bonuses to workers are the best way to motivate them. That, they say, isn’t necessarily so. In fact, standard bonuses can harm workplace cohesion and create competition that leads to reduced teamwork.