Nudge theory was named and popularized by the book, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth andHappiness by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, published in 2008. It explains that a nudge is basically ameans of encouraging or guiding behaviour. It is a gentle reminder, subtle motivator or hint. An example of abehavioral nudge is the blinking light on the car’s dashboard or a warning chime which serves as a subtlereminder that pushes us towards safer behaviour.
Nudge theory is mainly concerned with the choices we have that influence our decisions; it is about creating anenvironment that makes the right decisions easy to make. The basis of the theory is that people actually thinkand decide irrationally bases on instinct, rather than the common assumption that they are logical andrational. Contrary to common belief, only 10% of human decision making is based on rational evaluation and90% is driven by a subconscious or automatic system
This theory uses indirect encouragement rather than using conventional approaches of direct instruction,enforcement, punishment, etc. the fact is that when we employ directive or forceful methods to changepeople’s behaviour, there is normally resistance and even confrontation. However, when you seek to influencegood behaviour or persuade someone to select a better option, presenting different insights on the situationwhile giving them the opportunity to make that decision has proven to have better results. For instance, in theworkplace, small, simple reminders that are helpful can inspire positive action.
The social comparison theory states that people compare their moods with those of others, and then act in amanner that is appropriate to the situation. Therefore, people’s behavior is strongly influenced by what theysee others doing. Based on that assumption, it follows that employee recognition scheme are a good way toencourage a given behaviour and create a ripple effect. initiatives such as ‘employee of the month’ or‘customer service star’ – where employees are publicly recognized and rewarded for their achievement, causeother people to think about their own work practices and how they might emulate these successful colleagues.So whether the goal is to prioritise wellness, communicate more effectively, reduce absenteeism boostengagement or increase productivity, HR professionals can bring about real change within their organizationsby focusing on what pushes people to feel and perform at their best, and ten trying to correct the existingenvironment in order to unlock this potential.
– Fauzia Kerai Khan
The write is Chief Executive, i&b Consulting, training, e-learning.