The Hedonic Treadmill and Feelings of Entitlement

Over 30 years ago, Philip Brickman, a social psychologist
from Northwestern University, investigated the happiness
levels of lottery winners.

He found that after the initial elation of winning the
lottery ended that people recalibrated their happiness
levels.  The result was that the things they previously
enjoyed when they didn’t have money such as reading a book
or eating a good meal, actually became less pleasurable. 
After a few months, their happiness was no greater than
their happiness before winning the lottery.

Brickman named this phenomenon the “hedonic treadmill” to
describe the human predisposition to feel entitled today,
for the things we used to feel thankful for yesterday.

HR CONTRARIAN POINTER: The hedonic treadmill is simply a
description of our propensity to become spoiled (i.e., any
treat given often enough becomes less appreciated over

This phenomenon is often the case with employee benefits. 
Whether or not money is taken out of an employee’s
paycheck for benefits, the fact is that the benefits
provided by a company are assumed to be a given.

To help employees realize the actual cost of their
benefits, we recommend to our clients an annual 1-on-1
meeting with each employee to review these benefits.

To assist in this review, we have available a one-page
worksheet that we call a Wage & Benefit Statement.

To view a sample of the Wage & Benefit Statement that we
create for clients, click on the website below:

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