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For a productive workforce, try chocolate

Productivity booster. (Carrie Barbash)
Productivity booster. (Courtesy of Carrie Barbash)

Apparently, employers can buy happiness. Or, at least, they can boost productivity in the workplace — by about 12 percent.

Three economists at the University of Warwick in England have published a paper finding that happy people work harder. Not exactly a novel conclusion, but it does show how to bribe people to be more productive: feed them fruit and chocolate or show them clips of English stand-up comedy.

The study, set to be published in the Journal of Labour Economics, tested more than 700 participants — all young men and women enrolled in a leading English university with grades among the highest in their country.

Some of the subjects were either shown a video clip of stand-up comedian Bill Bailey or were fed fruit and chocolate.

Others, the control sample, had to watch a “placebo” video and were given squat. They were all then told to do some simple math, timed at 10 minutes, to test their brain skills under pressure.

The result?

The people who received the goodies prior to the experiment got about two more correct answers than the others — a boost of 10 to 12 percent, the findings showed.




Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. Tweet her: @lindseybever

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