A study published by the Harvard University Behavioral Research Ethics Board showed that prosocial bonuses in the form of donations to charity lead to happier and more satisfied employees.
Prosocial behavior is voluntary behavior that is meant to benefit someone else. Examples include assisting others, sharing, donations of any type, cooperative behavior, and volunteering regardless of motivation. A prosocial bonus is bonus compensation given to an employee that can only be used as a donation to a charity. The employee does not receive any money.
A sample of 133 participants reported their gender, age, and salary via a survey. They also ranked their happiness and job satisfaction on a 5-point scale (1: very slightly or not at all to 5: extremely).
Employees were randomly assigned to one of the three groups:
1. A prosocial bonus in the form of a charity voucher worth $25
2. A prosocial bonus in the form of a charity voucher worth $50
3. A control group
Participants were allowed to donate the voucher to a charity of their choice on a website. Almost half of the employees donated their voucher on the day they received it. The remaining vouchers were donated within 2 weeks. Employees again ranked their happiness and job satisfaction immediately after donating
The employees immediately ranked their job satisfaction. also ranked their job satisfaction. Employee responses indicated an increase happiness and job satisfaction. Increases were higher in the group given the $50 voucher.
This experiment was repeated to measure the change in sports and sales team performance with similar results.