Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2013

Prosocial Bonuses Increase Employee Satisfaction and Team Performance

by Lalin Anik, Lara B. Aknin, Michael I. Norton, Elizabeth W. Dunn and Jordi Quoidbach

Abstract

In two field studies, we explore the impact of providing employees and teammates with prosocial bonuses, a novel type of bonus spent on others rather than on oneself. In Experiment 1, we show that prosocial bonuses in the form of donations to charity lead to happier and more satisfied employees at an Australian bank. In Experiment 2, we show that prosocial bonuses in the form of expenditures on teammates lead to better performance in both pharmaceutical sales teams in Belgium and sports teams in Canada. 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.

Keywords: Satisfaction; Groups and Teams; Performance; Compensation and Benefits; Giving and Philanthropy; Banking Industry; Sports Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; Canada; Belgium; Australia;

Citation:

Anik, Lalin, Lara B. Aknin, Michael I. Norton, Elizabeth W. Dunn, and Jordi Quoidbach. "Prosocial Bonuses Increase Employee Satisfaction and Team Performance." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 13-095, May 2013.