Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
(Editor’s Note: Today’s article is brought to you by our friends at Humu, a solutions company that helps managers improve and ensures their teams get results. Be sure to check out their latest State of the Manager report. It’s a great read on how to engage and retain your management team. Enjoy the read!)
In the best-selling book “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness”, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein define a nudge as “any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives.” So, putting fruit at eye level is an example of a nudge. Banning junk food is not. Nudges must be easy and cheap to avoid and they’re not mandates.
Nudges can be very helpful when it comes to remembering things we need to do and developing new habits. Especially when we’re really busy.
When I worked in the hospitality industry, I would walk around the property and employees would ask questions or request information. I could never remember everything, so I started walking around with a small notepad and pen. Being able to jot down notes then take care of them when I was back at my desk, made me more effective and efficient.
Initially the hard part was remembering to bring my notepad with me. Part of me didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t remember everything. Then I realized how much employees appreciated that I remembered and took care of their request. The result helped me turn walking around with a notepad into a regular habit that improved the employee experience.
That’s why I want to talk about nudges today. Because nudges can be that little reminder or suggestion that we all want and need to be more effective.
Nudges Help Us Be More Effective
Our managers are busy. They’re responsible for a lot. We expect them to hire, train, engage, and retain employees. Plus manage the operation. On some level, it’s unfair to make them do it all on their own. Oh sure, we “remind” them about things they need to do during staff meetings or via email. But what if we could do something more impactful? Like give them a little nudge?
Our friends at Humu have developed a way to do just that. They’ve perfected “nudges” to drive measurable change. A nudge is exactly what you think. It’s a short suggestion or reminder. The things that makes nudges from Humu more impactful are that they’re backed in people science and that they’re delivered in the flow of employees’ work and in the moments that matter most. According to Humu, three of the top nudges for managers include:
Conduct a learning audit with an employee. Ask employees what skills they feel are valuable, how they would apply to their work, and discuss a plan for development. This is an opportunity to show support for an employee’s career.
Encourage stretch goals. We’re not talking about impossible goals. A stretch goal is something that’s more challenging, maybe it’s something the employee hasn’t done before. Stretch goals help us learn and give us confidence.
Coach employees to create mini milestones. How many times have we missed a goal because the plan was too big or long? Creating mini milestones can help the task become more manageable and allow the employee to succeed.
You probably noticed that these nudges don’t just make managers better because they’re doing those things that help to engage, train, and retain employees, but they make employees better too because they’re getting the support and guidance they need.
Ultimately, it makes the organization better because work is getting done, goals are being accomplished, and employees feel a connection to the organization. This translates to a better operation, happy customers, and a healthier bottom line.
People Like Nudges Because They Get Results
Now some of you might be saying, “I love this idea. This is great. But I know what I do with all my phone notifications. *dismiss* Managers are going to do the same thing.” It’s a valid comment and I asked Humu this question. Nudges aren’t the same as our phone notifications. They are personalized, based on the individual’s goals, and timed to meet the person in the moments when it’s easiest to take action. Versus our phone notifications that show up whether we want them to or not. For this reason, managers and employees really like nudges.
- Employees show consistent 80%+ engagement with nudges
- Of the people who engage with nudges, 95% want to keep getting them
- 96% of recipients report that nudges drove noticeable positive change
So, as I mentioned in the title of this article, everyone needs a little nudge now and then. Provided the nudge is personalized and timed right. Because nudges get results. And people like results. It makes them feel good.
Alexandra Levit in a recent article in The Wall Street Journal talks about middle managers being stressed and burned out. We need our managers and need to find ways to help them. I know many organizations are offering training and development programs. That’s great. We need to continue doing that. But let me suggest that it’s not enough. Connecting a program of nudges to existing activities could be that extra effort that makes the connection stick. It takes the conversation out of the classroom or meeting or email and moves it to the workday.
And that’s what organizations want right now – productive employees. Because it makes for a productive organization. If you want to learn more about nudges and how they can help your management team, start following their blog and request a short demo from Humu. Consider this your nudge to positively impact management, retention, and productivity.23