Social incentives like employee awards are widespread in the corporate sector and may be important instruments for solving agency problems. To date, we have little understanding of their effect on behavior. Unique panel data from the call center of a Fortune 500 financial services provider allow us to estimate the impact of awards on performance. Winning an award for voluntary work behaviors significantly increases subsequent core call center performance. The effect is short-lived, mainly driven by underperforming agents, and is reflected mostly in dimensions of the job that are hard to observe. We discuss various theories that could explain the effect.

Employee awards, Insider econometrics, Non-pecuniary rewards, Worker effort,
Labour Economics
Erasmus University Rotterdam

Neckermann, S, Cueni, R, & Frey, B.S. (2014). Awards at work. Labour Economics, 31, 205–217. doi:10.1016/j.labeco.2014.04.002