That big work bonus may have you on Cloud 9, but a new study suggests it could be taking a toll on your health in the long run.

Researchers from the Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia have found that while performance-related bonuses are indeed an effective tool for motivating employees, they can also foster an office culture where over-working becomes the expected norm and employee wellbeing goes out the window.  

In the study, 1,293 managers and 13,657 at 1,293 workplaces in the U.K. were surveyed about three kinds of common bonuses used by companies to motivate employees – performance-related pay, profit-related pay and employee share ownership.

The researchers found that while performance bonuses both motivated employees and increased their job satisfaction, there was also a clear link between these bonuses and highly stress-inducing work habits. 

The researchers even suggested that such bonuses may be considered a form of exploitation, as they are designed to push employees beyond their limits in the name of the company’s success.  

“By tying employees’ performance to financial incentives, employers send signals to employees about their intention to reward extra work effort with more pay. Employees in turn receive these signals and feel obliged to work harder," said study author Dr. Chidiebere Ogbonnaya.

“Even though employees may value these earnings as a good thing, the ultimate beneficiary of their extra effort is the organisation. As a consequence, performance-related pay may even be considered exploitative.”

The researchers also found that bonuses can do more harm than good if they don’t appear to be fairly distributed. When only some employees received performance bonuses, office morale took a serious hit across the board.  

It would seem that money can’t buy happiness, after all – at least not if it’s given out without meticulous consideration to a number of important factors.

h/t AskMen.

Banner image: (KieferPix/Shutterstock)