26 September 2019

Nudge Theory, behavioural science and making an impact on your comms

Have you ever wanted to achieve greater influence with your communications?

Do you want to affect people’s behaviour at work?

Did you know intentions only count towards a ¼ of a change in actual behaviour?

Behavioural science teaches us that we can’t rely on messaging alone in our communications but that context and the situations we work in have a huge effect on not just what we know and feel, but what we do too.


Changing behaviour with Nudge Theory

The world is changing fast and we all need to adapt with it in order to stay ahead of the curve. Behavioural science is still fairly new and is proving that by using something called Nudge Theory to encourage subtle changes, we can make a huge difference to how people behave.

In 2010 the government introduced a ‘Nudge Unit’ to inform policy making. We’ve all heard of and been affected by pension auto-enrolment, right? That’s a brilliant example of Nudge Theory in action and has led to us saving £17 billion a year more towards our futures.

Another great use of Nudge Theory was when Hackney council reduced gas and electric consumption by 6% and saved millions of pounds, simply by telling residents that their neighbours were using less than them.


So how can behavioural science help in the workplace?

Dan Ariely, a global leading Behavioural Economist at Duke University, goes into big corporate organisations and runs trials to test motivation and productivity.

When computer giant Intel wanted to incentivise their factory workers, Dan suggested encouraging managers to recognise a job well done with pizza vouchers, and as a result productivity increased by 6.7%.

Another organisation using Nudge Theory in the workplace is Virgin Atlantic. They wanted their pilots to use less fuel to save the organisation money and be more environmentally friendly. By introducing personalised targets and incentives for each person to try and reduce fuel consumption, they saved $5million in 6 months. Knowing that they were being monitored also had an impact on pilots, who changed their behaviours for the better.

Behavioural science might sound complex, but it can actually be very simple. The smallest nudges can make a huge difference. And the best bit? It doesn’t have to cost a lot either. In fact, it can end up saving you money.


But does it last?

When it comes to behavioural science, we usually aren’t aware that we’re being nudged at all. If a behaviour is demonstrated regularly enough it soon becomes a habit and therefore it lasts.

The power of influencing the decisions and choices your employee’s make can be huge and make a great impact on all areas of business, from recruitment, risk and compliance right through to wellbeing and learning and development. Through small behavioural nudges, you can create safer, happier workplaces that are more productive and profitable.


How it works

Our in-house behavioural science expert, Chloe, spent time at the London School of Economics applying behavioural science academia to real-world scenarios. She has created a 9-letter acronym which draws the latest evidence in behavioural science into one handy checklist.

We use our ‘HUMANISTS’ checklist to help guide our insight and set outcomes for success. Using these insights to inform the work that we do, we create engaging content and communications. We delve deep into an organisation’s work environment to design situations and contexts to help influence what people do.


What does behavioural science with Synergy look like?

  • Thought leadership, masterclasses, talks and seminars 
  • Ethnographic studies – assessment of behaviours
  • Intranet and digital platforms – assessment for UX and engagement
  • Campaigns – messaging that influences and is proven in A/B testing
  • Workshops – behavioural intervention brainstorm and accountability for embedding

Organisations we’re currently helping with behavioural science

  • Nestle
  • RBS
  • Imperial Tobacco
  • Aon

Interested in using behavioural science to inform your comms? Get in touch with Chloe for more information. Or click below for more information. 

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