Nudging to Change Workplace Behaviors
The idea of nudging to change workplace behaviors has been gathering steam. According to Nobel Economist Richard Thaler, “a nudge is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.”
What We Like About Nudging to Change Workplace Behaviors
As change management consultants over the last 25 years, we know that humans are not always rational. We were immediately attracted to the idea that you can better change workplace behaviors through smart choice architecture rather than top-down imperatives based upon only urgency and logic. Based upon our experiences with large and small scale change, it makes sense to us that “easy, attractive, social, and timely” options will promote a greater likelihood of behavior change.
Examples of Nudging to Change Workplace Behaviors
Schools that have adopted these approaches have reported an 18% increase in sales of healthy foods.
It increased 401k contributions by 55%.
Amazingly, this simple nudge reduced spillages by 80%.
How often do you select the second most expensive glass of wine?
How You Can Use Nudging to Change Workplace Behaviors
What if you want Sales and Marketing to cooperate more effectively together? Or how do you ensure your culture becomes more customer centric? What if you want to increase team accountability?
Sure, you could dictate the “what” and the ‘how”, but you are unlikely to get much positive response.
After all, your sales and marketing teams have been at odds for years, your company has been purposefully treating customers transactionally to decrease your cost of service, and your goals are not clear enough to truly hold people accountable.
If you want to use nudging to change workplace behaviors, think about how you can influence choices by making your desired behavior changes easy, attractive, social, and timely.
The Bottom Line
“Nudging” appears to be more successful than taking a heavy-handed approach to mandating change or restricting choice. Invest the time to determine how you can gently nudge people toward desired behaviors through smart choice architecture. Are you ready to test the “nudge” theory at your organization by making the desired new behaviors easier, more appealing, and more socially accepted than the alternatives?
To learn more about how change leaders leverage organizational structure, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change That Can Inform Your Nudges
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