by Erin R. Lusby-Donovan, M.Ed, BCBA

Organization’s thrive on the productivity of their employees. If you are in a management role, it can almost be guaranteed that you have been part of change in policies and procedures with the intent to increase employee productivity. It would also be safe to say that also during those times of change, you have been met with resistance and unwanted push back. Imagine if organizational change and employee productivity could occur with aversive consequences?

Nudge management is a an approach to management that applies behavioral principles to an organizational context. It attempts to alter staff behavior by making simple, seemingly unnoticeable changes to an environment that can have a large desired impact.  As a result, productivity can increase with little effort from the employee.

Ebert and Freibichler (2017) provide several examples of how nudge management can aid in solving common workplace problems and increase productivity.

  • Reduce time wasted in meetings by reducing the default duration of meetings
  • Limit number of distractions throughout the day by scheduling blocks of work.
  • Require days free from meetings to allow employees to engage in periods of “deep work.”
  • Arrange environments to ensure staff from different departments are to easily interact. This promotes “knowledge sharing”, critical for next generation innovation of products and ideas.
  • Reduce distraction by turning off email or phone notifications during periods of time when important tasks need to be completed.

These changes to an organization’s environment and expectations are small in scale.  The behavior change that occurs can often got unnoticed by an employee.  Increasing employee productivity does not have to come with harsh changes of policy, it can occur with simple nudges in the right direction.

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Ebert, P. & Freibichler, W. (2017). Nudge Management: Applying behavioural science to increase knowledge worker productivity.  Journal of Organizational Design, 6(4), 1-6.

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