Our friends at the Harvard Business Review recently published an interesting article about the different ways employees spend their bonuses and how their decisions affect morale. Their research shows that employees who give away at least a portion of their bonus to others tend to feel better than those who spent the entire amount on themselves. The Review suggests that companies “would do well to think about encouraging employees to share more of their bonuses with others,” creating what they call a prosocial workplace. To find out more about the research study, visit the Harvard Business Review.
A Prosocial Workplace
According to the Harvard Business Review’s article, even giving small amounts (as little as $5) can boost an employee’s morale on a given day. As an employer, giving a bonus is a way of rewarding employees for their efforts, and the employee should be able to decide how they would like to spend this money. However, employers can certainly give employees more options by creating a prosocial workplace. According to the study, “Managers should consider providing employees with opportunities to help others in addition to themselves.” The article suggests that the outcome could be substantial: “Encouraging employees to give away some of their bonuses and thereby create a prosocial workplace might make even modest bonuses really pay off in increased employee happiness.”
Follow the lead of these companies
Looking for some ideas on how to create and foster a prosocial workplace? Here are just a few:
- In 2007, a North Dakota bank gave out bonuses of $1,000 to full-time employees and $500 to part-time employees. The catch? They had to give it all away to charity. And videotape it. (HR Wench)
- The Harvard Business Review presents one great example of a company that created a prosocial environment among its clients: “Google [provided opportunities to help others] for its AdSense clients during the 2007 holiday season: The company gave each a 2.0 gigabyte USB flash drive and a $100 gift card for DonorsChoose.org, to be donated to an education program of the recipient’s choice.”
- Even one of the nation’s most well-known philanthropists is in the game, attempting to create a prosocial environment on a reality television show: Oprah’s Big Give
If you or your employer are looking for ideas on how to create a prosocial environment that promotes charitable giving, check out Charity Navigator’s Guide to Giving in the Workplace and northeast Ohio-based Community Shares’ Benefits of a Workplace Campaign. For more information about volunteering in Northeast Ohio, visit Business Volunteers Unlimited, an organization that ERC is personally involved with.
Is your workplace prosocial? Do you agree or disagree with donating your bonus? Share your ideas with other readers by commenting below!
Sources: “Help Employees Give Away Some of That Bonus,” by Michael I. Norton & Elizabeth W. Dunn. Harvard Business Review: July-August 2008.