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Time or Money – A Field Experiment on Immediate Rewards
Last registered on February 07, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Time or Money – A Field Experiment on Immediate Rewards
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005390
Initial registration date
February 04, 2020
Last updated
February 07, 2020 3:44 PM EST
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Cologne
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Cologne
PI Affiliation
University of Cologne
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2020-01-01
End date
2021-03-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Within two regions (USA and China) of a large chemical company, we implement a random change in the spot reward system of administrative employees. Employees elected to receive a monetary spot reward during the year 2020 are randomly divided into two groups – one group without any changes and thus a monetary payment and another group with the option to choose between vacation days instead of money. Our main aim is to study possible changes in employees’ satisfaction and engagement when they face the option to choose between different bonus types offered by their employer. We are also interested in whether there are changes in commitment and performance, whether this change is different between countries and whether there are changes in team dynamics such as team collaboration.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Block, Sidney, Dirk Sliwka and Timo Vogelsang. 2020. "Time or Money – A Field Experiment on Immediate Rewards." AEA RCT Registry. February 07. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5390-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2020-02-06
Intervention End Date
2020-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Job satisfaction, job engagement, percentage of chosen time rewards
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Further survey measures such as job commitment, perceived job performance, and team collaboration
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We leave the companies’ current system of spot rewards untouched except for one change. We randomly select whether an employee receives the opportunity to choose between a monetary reward (as before) or a corresponding amount of additional days off.
First, the supervisor and the employee have a conversation in which the employee is notified that he/she will receive an additional reward. Then, the randomization is carried out. If the employee is selected to receive the choice, he/she will receive an email from local HR in which the employee is asked to state his/her decision between time or money.
The different treatment groups are thus as follows:

TreatMONEY: No change. In case an employee is selected to receive a spot bonus, he/she is notified during a personal conversation. In this conversation, he/she receives a letter, which states the monetary value of the spot reward.

TreatCHOICE: Is the same as TreatMONEY except that the employee receives an email from HR after he/she had the conversation with their supervisor. This mail asks the employee whether he/she actually wants to receive the money or whether he/she wants to receive an equivalent amount of days off. The number of days off is determined by dividing the reward amount by the daily wage of an employee. Only full days-off will be granted, the maximum number of days off granted is capped at five days and the remainder from the conversion is paid out in money. Moreover, employees have until 28th February 2021 to make use of the additional days off they received.


The Surveys:
1) SurveysAll:
To gather one part of our main data, we run three surveys at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the year. The surveys contain questions concerning job satisfaction, commitment, engagement, perceived performance, team collaboration, and supervisor style. The first survey also contains questions concerning life values to estimate cultural differences and the monetary value of time.

2) SurveyRec:
To collect the other part of our main data, we survey all reward recipients six weeks after they received a reward. The survey contains a subset of the questions from the three main surveys and some questions related to the spot reward (e.g. amount, expectation to receive a reward). For employees who are in TreatCHOICE, the survey also contains questions related to the choice itself (e.g. are days off an attractive choice). The organizational procedure of sending out the reward surveys and obtaining data is the same as for the three large surveys.



All supervisors and employees are notified at the beginning of February 2020.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
We randomly select employees based on the time at which a reward was granted. HR sends us the employee ID of the employee who receives a spot bonus. If this employee is the first employee to receive a reward within the year, we toss a fair coin to determine to which group he/she belongs. The second employee is then allocated to the opposite group than the first employee. For the following reward recipients, we also apply this exact procedure. Therefore, for every odd reward recipient (with respect to the number of employees who already received a reward), we toss a fair coin and every even reward recipient is assigned to the opposite group than the prior reward recipient.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
700 employees in target population. Exact sample size depends on actual number of reward recipients and survey response rates.
Sample size: planned number of observations
700 employees in target population. Exact sample size depends on actual number of reward recipients and survey response rates.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
700 employees in target population. Exact sample size depends on actual number of reward recipients and survey response rates. We plan to have a 50:50 split between TreatMONEY and TreatCHOICE
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number