It might come as no surprise that when it comes to motivating forlorn colleagues on a dreary Monday morning, offering them free food will almost always perk them up.
However, according to research it’s also likely to actually boost productivity levels.
That’s not to say that handing out any old foodie freebies is going to instantly make employees work harder, oh no, the study specifically states that the key to motivating people in the office is by offering them free pizza - yes, really.
In a study led by psychologist Dan Ariely as part of his book, Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, it transpired that handing out pizza at work was more likely to incentivise office workers than a cash bonus.
Conducted at a semiconductor factory at Intel in Israel, Ariely sent workers one of three messages at the beginning of the working week to see which would motivate them to get the most work done.
The first offered them a cash bonus worth $30 (£29), the second said their boss would compliment them and the third promised a voucher for free pizza.
After just one day, pizza proved to be the most motivating message, with productivity levels increasing by 6.7 per cent ahead of a control group who received no messages.
Compliments proved almost as motivating, increasing productivity by 6.6 per cent.
Interestingly, the cash bonus motivated workers by just 4.9 per cent. In fact, after two days those who received the money offer were 13.2 per cent less productive in the office. By the end of the week, Ariely noticed productivity levels had dropped for this group by 6.5 per cent drop in total.
As productivity levelled out over the course of the week, it turned out that compliments were actually marginally more motivating than the free pizza overall.
So, the next time you want to inspire somebody in your life to work a little harder, whether they’re an employee or simply a lethargic friend, try swapping pennies for pizza and compliments.
However, be sure to remember that toppings remain a contentious issue - for some people the thought of pairing pineapple with ham is almost too much to bear - so you might be better off keeping things simple with a traditional margherita (the study failed to clarify whether certain toppings were more motivating than others).
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