The Differential Effects of Alternating Schedules of Feedback on Employee Productivity
McDonald, Charles H.
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The problem. Although feedback has improved performance in a number of settings, little attention to date has been devoted to the temporal aspects of feedback including frequency of schedules of feedback. The present study investigated schedules of feedback and their effect on productivity of an underwriting department of an insurance company. Procedures. A system of weighting production behaviors was established and individual worker performance feedback was begun on a weekly basis and increased to every other work day. Subsequently, social reinforcement was added to feedback. Quality and management cost were measured concurrently with productivity. Findinqs. Neither weekly or every other day feedback were effective in improving productivity. The addition of social reinforcement raised productivity back to baseline levels. Quality was not adversely affected. There is potentially a high payoff for management cost if procedures are effective. Conclusions. The method for weighting production did not account for seasonal variations in the difficulty of the workload. Thus, it was impossible to prove the effectiveness of the procedures. Recommendations. Future studies of complex production behaviors must have a valid basis for equating seasonal variations in the difficulty of the workload. In addition, goal setting should be considered in addition to feedback and social reinforcement.