When workers are given a social incentive such as a charitable donation linked to their job, performance increases by an average of 13 per cent, rising to 30 per cent amongst those who are initially the least productive.
“A lot of studies have shown how financial incentives, like bonuses and stock options, can improve performance,” says University of Southampton economist Dr Mirco Tonin, lead author of the study. “But our results provide empirical support for the growing recognition that some workers are also motivated by advancing social causes through their efforts.”
Performance was most improved (increasing by 26 per cent overall) when workers could decide how much of their pay they wanted contribute. When donations were optional, over half of participants chose to give a proportion of their own pay to a charity of their choice.