Gifting your staff

Seems to improve productivity more than a cash bonus.  Although it seems reminiscent of the Hawthorne Effect, these experiments suggest there is a productivity increase when you show employees that you put some thought into rewarding them by picking out a gift.  At least in Europe.  Would the results translate to the U.S.?  In the meantime, start putting more effort into those holiday presents you give out.  From Slate.  

Gifts from your boss: Do they make you work harder? - Slate Magazine
Before the students started to catalog the books, the experimenters told some of them that they would receive an unexpected 7-euro bonus—a 20 percent pay hike relative to the promised wage of 36 euros for the three-hour job. Another group was given a gift-wrapped water bottle that was worth around 7 euros. (In some versions of the experiment, a price tag was left on and catalogers were informed of the present’s value, to ensure that the employees didn’t overestimate it.) Crucially, a separate set of students didn’t receive any bonus at all, to serve as a baseline to measure the effects of gifts and extra cash. 

The cash bonus didn’t have any effect on the speed or accuracy with which the students did their jobs. However, those receiving the free bottle reciprocated by upping their data-entry rate by 25 percent, a productivity increase that more than offset the cost of the bottle itself. 
It’s not that the workers particularly loved their bottles—in fact, in a separate experiment in which catalogers were offered the choice between a bottle versus 7 euros, 80 percent took the cash (and still worked a lot harder). Rather, it was the thought that counted, and simply handing out a few more euros hardly takes much thought. Even offering the option of a gift showed that the employer cared. 
An intriguing final version of the experiment underscored the importance, in the eyes of the employees, of the thought and effort bosses put into their gifts. This time, the cash was delivered as a 5-euro note folded into an origami shirt and a 2-euro coin with a smiley face painted on it. The origami money-gift generated the highest increase in productivity of all. (While the researchers never handed out gift cards or other easy-to-obtain cash equivalents that are common and efficient employee rewards, one can imagine that a Starbucks gift card doesn’t exactly scream “I care.”)


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