Change is hard for people; but you can make it easier.
Behavioral “nudges,” actions employing positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions as ways to influence behaviors and decisions, can be used in the workplace to encourage teamwork and improve productivity.
While not all of these will be appropriate for all employees, these nudges can help encourage and empower various team members:
Implement quiet time. Consider implementing periods of “quiet time,” during which non-emergent interruptions will be prohibited. Companies that have tried this indicate it has improved concentration and productivity for some workers. For maximum effectiveness, keep the hours consistent (such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and brief (such as 10 am-noon).
Break down silos. Encourage employees to seek insights, input, and support from other teams. To break the ice, have a coffee break or breakfast where teams are encouraged to come and talk about how they can interact more, what issues or challenges they might help each other address, and what new skills or fresh insights they can bring to the table. Check back from time to time to keep the silos down and the open communication flowing.
Control emails. Try to limit the overuse of emails after work and on weekends. One company took charge of this by causing a pop-up window to appear whenever a manager tried to send a message after hours. The message simply said, “You are trying to send an email to a company user outside of normal business hours.” It then gave the individual four options: mark the email as low priority, defer sending until the next business day, send the email immediately, or cancel. This is a creative way to encourage managers and others to draw a line between work and personal life and enable employees to enjoy more balanced lives. It also shows workers that the company respects that they have lives outside of the organization; and this contributes to greater engagement and job satisfaction.
Encourage work workouts. A very simple nudge that can improve employee health is encouraging workers to take the stairs and make other efforts to walk more during the day. Put up signs or posters to promote the nudge, such as: “Won’t you try the stairs? It’s good for the heart.”
Depending on the nudge, there are different keys to implementation. Among the most common: sharing facts, implementing rules, using system reminders, changing default options, and “priming” before the change with a kick-off event or activity. Whatever nudges you identify as useful for your organization, they can be powerful ways to improve teamwork and get and keep staff more engaged and empowered.