A new study [PDF] suggests that managers can boost team performance by offering “prosocial” bonuses. The study’s authors say that teams do better when individuals get bonus compensation which they are then instructed to spend on another team member or a charitable group.
The Harvard Business School working paper was released this month and written by Lalin Anik, Duke University; Lara B. Aknin, University of British Columbia; Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School; Elizabeth W. Dunn, University of British Columbia; and Jordi Quoidbach, University of Liège. The researchers were looking for ways around common problems caused by traditional bonuses, which have been shown to be ineffective in increasing morale and productivity.
According to Anik et al, prosocial bonuses, or bonuses that are spent on other people, may be the answer. Teams that employed prosocial bonuses reported higher productivity and more satisfied employees than those that only used traditional bonuses. They write, “These results suggest that a minor adjustment to employee bonuses – shifting the focus from the self to others – can produce measurable benefits for employees and organizations.”
Apparently, the sense that they are doing good can motivate people to work better together – here’s how.