Employee Award Programs in laundries: costs and benefits

A new paper by Harvard Business School authors Timothy Gubler, Ian Larking and Lamar Pierce reports about the costs and benefits of Employee Award Programs in Laundries.

Many scholars and practitioners in human resource management have recently argued that award and other forms of on-the-job recognition provide a “free” way to motivate employees, say the authors. But are there unintended, negative effects of such awards? In this paper, the authors simultaneously examine the costs and benefits of an attendance award program that was implemented in an industrial laundry plant. The award used in the study was effective in that it reduced the average rate of tardiness among employees. However, it also led to a host of potential spillover effects that the plant manager readily admits were not considered when designing the program, and that reduced overall plant productivity. Overall, findings demonstrate that an award program that appears to be effective may also induce unintended consequences severely reducing the net value of the program. Read more