Study: When unemployment is up, so is employee productivity

The grim reality: Some studies have found that layoffs and monitoring devices motivate employees to work harder and more efficiently.

Forget employee engagement, rewards, and acknowledging a job well done.

If you want your employees to be more productive, tell them their jobs are on the line.

That sounds cold, but according to researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research, it works.

An article in The Atlantic notes that when the U.S. economy took a dive in 2008, productivity spiked. This could have been because when companies laid off their least productive workers only the most productive employees remained. But the theory researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research support is that the increasing layoffs inspired people to work harder so they wouldn’t join the ranks of the unemployed.

In their study, the researchers found that in states where jobs were harder to come by, employees worked harder because they were afraid of losing their jobs and not being able to find new ones.

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