Absence of conflict of interest
The study's objective was to examine the impact of monetary incentives on absences from work for adolescents employed in part-time jobs.
The study used an interrupted time series design to compare work attendance before and after monetary incentives were implemented using electronic attendance sheet data.
The study did not find any statistically significant effects of the monetary incentives on youth absences from work.
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because there were fewer than three demonstrations of the intervention to assess subsequent changes in attendance. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects in attendance are attributable to the introduction of monetary incentives; other factors are likely to have contributed to observed differences.
Features of the Intervention
Workplace absences lead to decreased productivity and to increased direct costs to employers. Absences from work are especially prevalent and challenging for workers of a younger age, with adolescents being more likely to have both planned and unplanned absences. The monetary intervention examined in this paper builds on previous studies to learn more about how to incentivize positive adolescent behavior in the work environment.
The youth examined in this study were paid youth-group leaders between the ages of 13 and 20. The groups were comprised of children up to 6th grade, with weekly 90-minute sessions. Each group had 2 to 4 youth leaders and as many as 14 children per group. The employment contract required prior notification of absences, and all youth were emailed about the absence notification policy and consequences for unplanned absences. During the monetary contingency phase, which lasted for 7 weeks, youth could receive an extra $2 in their paychecks for every week that they were present. After the monetary contingency intervention was implemented for 7 sessions, it was removed for the remainder of the weeks.
Features of the Study
The authors compared the outcomes of participants before and after they experienced the monetary incentives. The study design was an interrupted time series analysis using an A-B-A sequence: baseline (A), monetary contingency (B), and return to baseline (A). Baseline and return to baseline phases included recording intended absence notifications and on-site attendance. The authors compared the trends in attendance from the baseline periods to the intervention period, using an electronic attendance report based on observational attendance data recorded at each session.
The sample included 24 youth aged 13-20, all of whom were in high school or college. The majority of the youth were female (54%), and enrolled in high school (83%).
The primary data source was an electronic attendance report based on observational attendance data recorded at each session.
- The study found that total absences were lower during the monetary incentives intervention. The study also found that the number of unplanned absences composed a lower share of the total absences during the monetary incentives phase. However, none of these differences were tested for statistical significance.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
CLEAR’s guidelines require that, in order to receive a moderate or high rating, a study must have at least three distinct demonstrations of change in the intervention to limit the chance that changes in outcomes reflect some other factor that changed at the time of the intervention. The study only included one demonstration of change, introducing incentives during the 10th week of the study. Therefore, the study receives a low rating.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because there were fewer than three demonstrations of change in the intervention status. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the monetary incentives; other factors are likely to have contributed.