How can you create nudges to enable behavioural change?
Maintaining the freedom of choice is key with nudge theory. Rather than trying to change employee behaviour through enforcement or punishment, encouragement, choice and enablement is at the centre of driving change.
Creating nudges is not a simple process. It’s important to observe people’s current behaviour before identifying which behaviours require changing. Once you’ve spent time considering this, you’ll be in a position to design your nudges, which largely fit into three categories:
1. Perception nudges
Target the underlying perceptions of organisational behaviour to bring about a change in understanding, and therefore, a change in behaviour.
An example – we react differently to the same information depending on how it is framed and our choices are often affected by whether the outcomes are framed in terms of the gains or losses.2 For example, food described as 99% fat free is perceived as more favourable than food described as 1% fat.
2. Motivation nudges
These are needed when you want employees to care about a change. One way of doing this is to reference other people’s behaviours to highlight what is acceptable and desirable.
An example – Electricity companies use information collected from smart meters to tell their customers how their energy usage compares to their neighbours. Telling people that they use more energy than their neighbours has been found to motivate people to reduce their usage.3
3. Ability and simplicity nudges
This is eeded when colleagues feel that it is too much effort to carry out a desired behaviour. It is important to enable people to change and make changes simple. The easier it is, the more likely people will carry it out.
An example – we can be deterred from taking action by seemingly small barriers. HMRC improved tax collection rates by making it easier for people to pay. Rather than sending people to a web page that contained the form they needed to complete, they sent them directly to the form. Doing this increased response rates from 19% to 23%.4