In the fall of 2015, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order titled, “Using Behavioral Insights to Better Serve the American People.”
The premise behind the order is simple: federal agencies are encouraged to apply behavioral science—defined as “research findings from fields such as behavioral economics and psychology about how people make decisions and act on them”—to the design of government policies, in order to improve public welfare, program outcomes and program cost effectiveness. Design programs in ways that make it easy and enticing for people to participate, and they will.
U.S. federal agencies are already seeing positive results using various confirmed behavior triggers—sometimes it’s a simple “nudge”—and a Social and Behavior Sciences Team has convened to lead the endeavor. Other governments are following suit. According to the New York Times, civil servants in Britain are being trained in behavioral science. And governments in Australia, Denmark and South Africa are also working to change how people behave in predictable ways through applied behavioral science.
While behavioral science can offer policymakers useful insights to improve public programs, these studies can also be applied to broader audiences. In theory, behavioral science can be applied wherever human behavior plays a role—including within the corporate arena.
Imagine a company that wants to persuade tens of thousands of employees to engage around a corporate initiative to help them save for retirement, or to protect their organization from cyber criminals by taking necessary actions to keep their information safe.
Capturing the attention and passion of employees is incredibly challenging, and it’s almost impossible when the organization’s workforce in unengaged. Solving for this issue, organizations adopt cutting-edge behavior-design technologies to provide comprehensive and accessible systems.
The result: employees are engaged in positive-impact initiatives such as sustainability, volunteering, health and well-being, and more.
Our latest whitepaper, “Embracing Behavioral Science to Better Serve Your Workforce,” offers actionable advice for organizations to implement employee engagement programs that deeply integrate behavioral science.
Behavioral science is a growing field with extensive experimentation and impact, and it is really starting to scale. Understanding its power will help organizations better implement programs to help employees consume energy more thoughtfully, waste less, and drive positive impact, thus improving the bottom line for people, the organizations they work for, and the planet.