Workforce Studies

Workforce Studies

Research to inform business decisions.

3-Minute Read


Everyone admires free things, particularly food. So it is no secret that offering free food to workers will make them more contented. However, as per studies, it might also make them more productive by motivating them with satisfaction. But, this doesn’t mean that you can offer anything to your workers and they will become Oompa-Loompas.

No, the research particularly states that it has to be pizza!


In a research conducted by the psychologist, Dan Ariely, as a portion of his book, Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, he wrote that offering pizza to workers would motivate them to become more productive in contrast to providing more money.

Dan Ariely conducted this research at a semi-conductor workshop at Intel in Israel. As the week began, Dan Ariely told the workers either of three things to observe which one would be the most motivational.

He offered them a $30 reward, a promise recognition from their employer, and a coupon for free pizza. Only after one day, Dan Ariely observed that the free pizza was the most motivational message out of all. In contrast to the control group that received no messages, the workers that were offered free pizza demonstrated an escalation in productivity by 6.7%. The promise of recognition from the employer showcased similar results, with an escalation in productivity by 6.6% ahead of the control group. However, what astounded Dan Ariely was that the reward for money only improved productivity by 4.9%.

And, the workers that were offered the $30 reward demonstrated a 13.2% decrease in productivity. At the end of the week, Dan Ariely observed that these workers showcased an overall decrease of 6.5%.

However, it turned out that over the duration that these observations were made, the workers that were receiving recognitions from their employers were becoming more productive as opposed to the ones that were receiving free pizza.

Employee Motivation

According to academics, this research concludes that workers prefer appreciation over rewards. “Extrinsic motivators can stop having much meaning — your raise in pay feels like your just due, your bonus gets spent, your new title doesn’t sound so important once you have it”, Adam Grant, a Wharton professor, told The Wall Street Journal.

“But the sense that other people appreciate what you do sticks with you.”

However, this isn’t what Dan Ariely thinks. According to him, the pizza is a better stimulus than any recognition or money. Dan Ariely also states, “… we not only would give them a gift, but we would also make them heroes in the eyes of their families.”

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