Nudge Theory That Can Change Employee Behavior
Inquilab has been asking his 10-year-old daughter to tidy up her room for the past few days. She finds some…
April 16, 2021 | 4 mins read
Inquilab has been asking his 10-year-old daughter to tidy up her room for the past few days. She finds some excuse to avoid this responsibility every time. Inquilab decides to change his approach and suggests a game: who can organize things the fastest. His daughter participates immediately.
While it may look like a simple father-daughter activity, Inquilab successfully convinces his daughter to tidy up her room. This tactic is also known as a nudge and it influences human behavior and actions to a significant extent. Let’s explore the concept of nudge theory in detail and see how it plays out in our everyday lives.
Before we look at the meaning of nudge theory, let’s take some time to understand what nudging is. At its simplest, nudging refers to the process of influencing behavior through small changes in information. It affects someone’s choice without taking away the agency to choose.
The nudge theory suggests that indirect suggestions and positive reinforcements are instrumental in influencing people’s decisions and actions. It’s a behavioral science concept first developed by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein—two American scholars—in their book, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness (2008).
Therefore, the nudge theory proposes that indirect techniques can successfully influence someone’s behavior instead of direct instructions. Here are a few examples of nudge theory from daily life.
When you buy a burger, you’re likely to purchase fries and soft drinks when they’re offered as a suggestion
When there is an additional cost for plastic bags at stores, you’re less likely to purchase one, thereby reducing plastic consumption
Schools often hang posters or pictures of inspirational leaders and their quotes to encourage students to think in a particular way
Healthy nudges can be applied to any aspect of our lives—educational institutes, government policies or workplace environments. Many organizations have started to realize the growing importance and relationship between happier employees and improved productivity. Employee behavior can be improved through nudge theory. Here are various examples of nudge theory that highlight its importance in management.
It’s no secret that in a majority of meetings, plenty of time is spent on sharing information. But this doesn’t affect action. Managers can solve this challenge by reducing the time allocated for meetings. This encourages people to spend less time discussing data or sharing information.
Organizations should prioritize employee well-being. An effective way of doing this is designing the office so that healthier options are more dominant. For example, several offices have staircases placed in prominent locations while elevators are hardly visible. Such a prompt is likely to encourage individuals to take the stairs and practice healthy lifestyle choices.
To foster healthy habits, several organizations have reduced the number of waste bins available on every floor. Fewer waste bins across the corners of the office will discourage employees from generating more waste such as unwanted printouts and papers. The distance between their workstations and the wastebin will make a huge difference.
Therefore, nudge theory helps employees realize the importance of addressing a challenge and encourages them to choose a solution. It’s highly effective for change management and employees are more likely to embrace change when they have the power of choice.
If you think about rolling out a nudge strategy, consider the following steps.
The first step is to define the change that’s needed and talk to employees about it. If they are on the same page, it’s easier to avoid any conflicts or fallout.
Conduct a stakeholder analysis and check how the change will affect everyone involved. It’ll provide you with clarity and direction to improve your strategy if needed.
Nudge theory in management is only effective when it’s supported by a rational plan. Identify what resources will be needed, including the time to make and adjust to changes.
Once your change management plan is in action, be open to feedback—it’s a powerful nudging technique. Understand what your employees are or aren’t happy with.
Most importantly, you need to be patient while implementing change. There will be highs and lows and you’ll need to power through all of them. Stay focused on your end goal and be prepared for bottlenecks, if any.
Applying the nudge theory in the workplace requires critical thinking and decision-making. Harappa’s Making Decisions course will guide you through the basics of good decision-making. The Good Decisions Process framework will teach you to scrutinize situations before arriving at smart decisions. The D-R-I Model will help communicate decisions and their implications to stakeholders. This impactful online course will equip you with powerful frameworks to process, reflect and include multiple perspectives for informed decision-making.
Explore topics such as What is Decision-Making, Types of Decision-Making, What Leads To Indecisiveness & Steps In A Decision Matrix Analysis from Harappa Diaries and learn to scrutinize situations before arriving at smart decisions.