Research Says Pizza Makes You More Productive at Work

Photo: vgajic, Getty Images.

According to scientific research from Dan Ariely’s book, Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, it would take more than short breaks, meaningful tasks, or effective tools to work with to make a worker more productive. It appeared that the key ingredient to make you a more productive individual in the workforce is…drum roll…pizza!

Ariely studied four groups of workers in Israel at an Intel semiconductor factory. He then provided each group with different incentives to see which one made them work the most. One group received pizza as an incentive. The second received a cash bonus of around $30. The third group received a complimentary text message from the boss. The fourth group received nothing.

From the start, the group with the pizza incentive increased their productivity by 6.7 percent.  The group with the complimentary text message incentive increased their productivity by 6.6 percent. The group with the cash bonus was behind with only a 4.9 percent increase in productivity. So, the pizza incentive was doing well above the other incentives.

After a week, the pizza and compliments group increased in productivity while the cash bonus group’s productivity actually decreased by 6.5 percent. At the end of the study, complimentary text message came out on top and the pizza incentive was a close second.

This result wouldn’t be too shocking to those who’ve read journalist Janice Kaplan’s book The Gratitude Diaries. Kaplan surveyed 2,000 Americans about their views on gratitude; 8 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss. Seventy percent said they’d feel better about themselves and their efforts if their boss regularly thanked them. However, a compliment in the workplace is a rare occurrence with only 10 percent of respondents admitting to regularly giving their colleague gratitude.

Another research study, this time at the London School of Economics in 2011, published a review about workplace motivation. By analyzing more than 50 studies, their research discovered that feeling appreciated is what drives people in the workplace. According to the LSE researchers, financial incentives sometimes backfire because they undermine one’s intrinsic (or naturally occurring) motivations. Extrinsic (or external) motivators cease to mean much in the long run; a raise might feel overdue or a new title loses its luster.

If you’re reading this, bosses, either give compliments or pizza if you want your employees to work harder. Now all you have to figure out is: which toppings would your workers prefer on their pies?


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