Nudge Your Leaders, Make an Impact in Four Steps

Nudge Your Leaders, Make an Impact in Four Steps

Our recent blog, “Survey Nudging 101: 8 Principles for Post-Survey Action,” provided eight principles for applying nudging after your employee survey is completed. This blog broadens the scope to the entire employee survey process, ensuring each nudge is business-focused.

How to Implement Business-Focused Nudges

If your organization is considering implementing a “nudging” process, it is important to utilize an approach that is based on science rather than on your organization’s desire to implement a new technology. Careful consideration of when and how to nudge your leaders will ensure there is a strategy behind nudging and, more importantly, provide the best opportunity for a return-on-investment (ROI). SMD actually began applying this approach with the introduction of our ActionGenius tool in 2017. Since then, we have integrated the approach more widely in our employee survey process, providing leaders nudges in several forms. We’re providing you with four steps for incorporating nudges throughout your employee survey process.

Business-Focused Nudging Step 1: Identifying Business Drivers

When conducting an employee survey, it is critical to link survey scores directly to important business outcomes (e.g., financial performance, customer satisfaction, turnover rates). This is accomplished by using advanced analytics to understand which elements of the employee experience (categories from the survey) directly link to the outcomes. By understanding the key business drivers, you can start the nudging process by nudging leaders to focus on the most important areas from your survey to direct follow-up and action planning.

Business-Focused Nudging Step 2: Frequency

Once leaders understand the business drivers, a strategic nudging plan can be put into place. Consider the timing; you’ll need to strike a balance between often enough that it stays on the radar, but not so often that the process is a burden and may turn leaders against the process. A nudge every few weeks or once a month is fine. The nudges can also taper as the follow-up process moves forward. For instance, right after leaders get their survey results, a nudge could be sent 30 days later to remind leaders to share survey results and build action plans. At 60 days, another nudge could encourage leaders to check in on progress and share updates with their teams and leadership. From there, the nudges can come based on strategic check-in points the organization establishes (e.g., goal setting, performance reviews). What does a nudge look like? One idea is a nudge with a link to a brief micro-learning video that provides a definition of the topic (e.g., career development), an explanation of what it is, why it’s important and best practices to show what action can be taken.

Business-Focused Nudging Step 3: Tools and Resources

In addition to the importance of timing, the content and support for the nudging process is key to success. Only sending general periodic reminders to leaders to work on something from their survey is not enough to ensure appropriate actions happen from the leaders. A quality nudge explains why the nudge is happening (e.g., career development was shown to directly drive turnover in our organization), suggestions on what to focus on (e.g., career development discussions) and tips on specifically what to do in order to be successful. Remember, that a nudge is based on basic behavioral science that points a leader in the right direction. This last step differentiates a reminder from a nudge – making targeted suggestions regarding what to do is the key. You get bonus points if the nudge provides a link to your survey system so that the leader can use an action plan tool to document what their actions will be and put a deadline on when they will work on the action step (i.e., follow the SMART approach).

Business-Focused Nudging Step 4: Follow-up

Just as it is important to be strategic with nudging, it is also critical to follow up to assess impact. Pulse surveys should not be over-used, but implemented to assess the progress being made on action plans and movement of the business drivers. A pulse survey could include questions asking employees if they understand what leaders are focused on from the survey results, are they seeing action take place, as well as reassessing their perceptions of the key drivers (e.g., the survey categories linked to business outcomes). The nudging should be spurring improvement on the key drivers and a strategic pulse (roughly 6 months after the initial survey) will help you understand the level of impact on how employees’ perceptions have changed.

Ready to learn more about nudging? Listen to our recorded webinar here.