Want to drive engagement? It’s time to ‘nudge’ your managers

Also known as 'choice architecture', employee nudging can yield impressive results

Want to drive engagement? It’s time to ‘nudge’ your managers

In today’s working world, your employees are likely dotted across the globe. Remote and hybrid models have given rise to a new style of work – one which makes the in-office system look a touch archaic.

However, while digitization has allowed us to adopt a “work from anywhere” mentality, it’s also led to cases of tech overload – with a report from Bloomberg claiming that workers jump between their apps over 1,200 times a day. For employers, issues are productivity have risen to the fore.

The question on many leaders’ minds is how can they combat this burnout whilst also regaining efficiency and productivity?

The answer, one CEO claims, is employee nudging – also known as “choice architecture.”

Speaking to HRD, Jeff Cates, CEO of Achievers HR software, says that this practice not only increases productivity, but also coaches managers on how to perfect the art of recognition. While it’s not necessarily a new concept, nudging is a signal, used by managers, which prompts leaders to use their time more efficiently — effectively cultivating an environment which influences certain positive behaviors.

“That's when that's when you get this exponential impact of driving behaviours,” Cates tells HRD. “We want to take those insights, as well as our own research around leadership, to create best practices and then nudge that behaviour within the application.”

Developing your next generation of leaders

An example of nudging, Cates explains, is using a welcome card when a new hire joins the team. This simple act is expected to enhance engagement by pushing forward a culture of collaboration – something which will in turn lead to lower turnover.

And the data’s there to back it up.

According to Achiever’s Workforce Institute research, nudging managers keeps them “on their toes” and ensures they’re performing at their highest level – a key driver of engagement. And, as Achiever’s 2022 Manager Empowerment research shows, 95% of employees who recommended their managers also reported being highly engaged.

But how can you tell if your nudges are working? Well, as Cates explains, it all comes down to employee uptakes.

“The first metric you’d look at is a surface nudge,” he says. “Look at whether someone follows through on the nudge. After all, if you serve a nudge and no one bothers to do anything about it, it’s not going to be relevant. Look at engagement. The example of the welcome card – we’ve seen that this behaviour is being taken up and we expect to be impactful in creating a sense of belonging.”

Nudging as a “reward” tool

But nudging is not just for leadership development – it’s also a key aspect of reward and recognition, especially in remote work. As Cates tells HRD, leaders can be nudged to recognize their employees - which is critical given that 65% of employees say “feeling recognized” would reduce their desire to job hunt.

“That positive reinforcement is a behaviour driver,” he says. “It’s arguably one of the most powerful behaviour drivers – and it's probably one of the most powerful things about happiness, period. Micro nudging, or micro rewarding, is also a behaviour that rates recognition.

“It’s incredibly interesting in terms of how it psychologically impacts people. And so, we’re looking at how we can use these insights to help other apps too – how can we use our technology to make those systems become more effective in what they do?”

According to data from McKinsey and Company, organizations are using nudging to drive both behaviour and wellbeing – something which can’t go amiss post-pandemic. Their data found that nudging led to a 35% increase in employees following health and safety behaviors as well as four times more workers adding to their retirement savings pot.

The art of taking these insights created by nudging and placing them into actionable data means that you can create a better culture, higher engagement and a more comprehensive R&R structure.

“It's the concept of surfacing insights, in many cases backed by like data,” Cates tells HRD. “Of looking at a goal that’s tied to an objective - nudging towards it, and then making it really easy to take that action. When technology can do that at scale, that's really when you can move the needle.

“We're super passionate about building better leaders, in particular because they have this multiplier role in the company. People join companies but they leave their leader. We want to know how to create better leaders by nudging them towards action.”

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