The concept of Nudge which was first developed by Nobel economic prize winners, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein proposes that positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions can be used to influence the behaviour and decision making of both groups and individuals.
Initially applied to behavioural science, political theory and behavioural economics, the concept can also be applied to Learning and Development as Thaler and Sunstein state that; “By knowing how people think, we can make it easier for them to choose what is best for them, their families and society.”
But does it work?
Well, the short answer is yes. For example, if you’re looking to get people to eat more healthily you could take the time to construct powerful arguments about the negative impact of obesity on their health, put traffic light signs on foods and engage in public information campaigns. However, tests show that even when presented with clear factual analysis, individuals are still more likely to pick the unhealthy option.
Alternatively, you could change where the healthy food sits on supermarket shelves as tests have shown that by placing it within customer’s eyelines you can nudge them towards purchasing the food, regardless of their knowledge of the obesity argument.
Nudge in a learning context
Instructional Designers have been using nudges for years, after all what are Gagne’s nine events if not nudges to stimulate learning? But these stimulants are only meant to work once the learner commits to learning.
So, how do you get employees to learn voluntarily?
1. Content available at point of need and when learning is in demand
Start by ensuring learning content is available at the point of need, for example during change programs, when annual appraisals are due or when the targeted employees have a lighter workload.
2. Learning available in a prominent Location
Then grab their attention by posting a link to the course, alongside an attractive infographic, in a location where all employees will see it, such as a notice board, the intranet home page or the back of a bathroom door.
3.Direct personal communication is key
If there are specific employees who are required to take the course, take the time to send an email or text messages about available, relevant content, its objectives and how it can benefit them in the long run.
Don’t forget to include the link in your message, as recipients are more likely to take the course if it’s easy to access, so try to avoid asking them to open a new browser to search for the course.
4. Get managers on side
Before you approach the learners, it can be useful to speak to their managers about the courseware, as research shows learners are more likely to enrol on and complete a course if it’s been assigned by their managers.
5. Make your content exclusive
We all like to think of ourselves as special, even when it comes to our own learning and development, which is why making a course available by nomination only can help to motivate learners to take and complete it.
6. Provide a social forum to discuss the learning
Learning shouldn’t be a lonely exercise, in fact, we tend to learn better when we’re part of a social group and able to share ideas, which is why setting up a social forum is recommended as the discussions can help create awareness and eagerness for participation with the course, as well as an opportunity to feedback about the content.
7. Ask for feedback
In fact, people like providing feedback, so why not take the time to ask learners about what they think about the course. Ask them what they felt worked and what didn’t so you can continue to make improvements to the overall experience.
8. Create competition.
People are competitive by nature, so by enabling learners to compete against one another in a friendly completion through the awarding of points, badges and awards you can increase engagement with the courses and motivate learners to absorb the content provided.
A little “nudge” can go a long way in building a culture of learning within an organisation increasing both course usage and engagement leading to a higher level of completion and more developed workforce.
So, why not check out MicroLearn’s content library and try our “little nudges” to increase engagement with learning in your organisation!