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The IKEA Effect - Why We Value the Effort of Our Labour More Than Other People?

The pride taken in the outcomes of our efforts means that we tend to have an inflated value of the end product than an objective assessment may justify it.  In fact, according to Prof Dan Ariely, the effort that people put in completing a task or a goal, determines how much value they put on the end result, often evaluating the achieved goal in higher terms than the goal warrants.

This phenomenon, referred to as the ‘IKEA effect’,  through an analogy to the pride felt on completion of a flat-pack project, may be important to consider in performance managing situations, where employees may place a higher value on their own accomplishments that their managers do, especially if they had to struggle to accomplish their goals.

Prof John Hattie, an expert on performance indicators and evaluation in education, states that:

“…when people are working towards difficult goals, they expect to have achieved them at some cost and effort.  As a result, they place a high value upon what they have achieved.  Within job satisfaction research it has been found that employees want jobs that demand a level of effort and resulting pride.  In the work situations, it may seem curious to note that although people often rate their employment as low in pleasurability, nevertheless it is still rated as high in reward value.  To express this in another way, most people will strongly value their work, and what they can achieve there, even though they do not go to work for pleasurable purposes”.

The ‘IKEA effect’ means that in performance evaluating situations, people may see themselves as more skilled and better than they actually are simply because  they place higher value on their results that others do.  This has some implications for managers responsible for evaluating the performance of others and some sensitivity to the ‘IKEA effect’ may lead to more successful dialogues and feedback that, whilst recognising the investments of employees, is constructive to future improvement and mutually agreed for action, even if there is a mismatch between the perceptions as to the real value of the end product or goal already accomplished.

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