Using lotteries to incentivize filling out boring paperwork

As part of a plan to introduce wellness programs, a Pittsburgh medical record services company needs its employees to fill out a questionnaire about their health. The company is experimenting with giving small rewards to everyone or big prizes to a few via a lottery.

Most employees at the company are getting a $25 cash reward for filling out the assessment. A group of 200 workers receive an additional $25 grocery card. A third group, of 400 employees, is divided into five-member teams that are enrolled in a weekly lottery. If the team wins, each member gets $100, plus the regular $25 reward, but only if he or she completed the assessment. The winners list is widely emailed each week, making it clear who’s won and who missed their chance. If all five members of the winning team filled out the survey, each person gets an additional $25.

Though the study is still under way, about 70% of the lottery group has completed the assessment, researchers say. That compares with 34% of those receiving the basic cash reward, and 43% of those getting an additional grocery card.

Some other behavioral economics inspired experiments are reported in the Wall Street Journal. Hat tip: Rags Srinivasan.

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