Can you ‘nudge’ employees into making better decisions or embracing change? According to some experts, you can.
The ‘nudge,’ a concept that uses positive reimbursement and indirect suggestions to influence behavior and decision making, has made its way into the workplace. Used appropriately and ethically, it can lead to better decisions and improved employee satisfaction.
However, before you jump on the nudge bandwagon, consider three key principles:
- Nudges should be transparent and never misleading or subtle.
- Employees should ultimately have the freedom to make their own decisions.
- There needs to be good reasons to believe that the behavior or decision being ‘nudged’ will improve the welfare of the employees and the company.
Some simple nudges include putting workstations on dark carpet, which will encourage people to physical distance, removing all but one wastebasket to make people to get up and move during the day, posting pictures of ethical leaders (such as Gandhi) on the walls to discourage unethical behavior, and putting healthy snacks at eye level in the kitchen to encourage better eating/snacking.
You can nudge employees to have more empathy for each other by creating opportunities for role playing. Let them step into each other’s shoes in a safe space and experience the stresses and challenges others deal with. This can increase staff engagement and teamwork.
For a nudge to be successful, make sure you have the right messenger, i.e., someone who is trusted and has a rapport with the workers. Then make sure you thoroughly know the target audience and what ‘carrots’ will appeal to them. This means having the right content. Appeal to your audience in ways that will speak to them, their needs, and their interests. Finally, aim for change in the right place. Know precisely what needs to change and why.
When used appropriately and carefully, a nudge can be an effective and often easy way to help workers achieve desired goals, improve engagement, and enable them to feel empowered on the job.