Incorporating Nudge theory in learning /Nudging your staff to learn

Nudge Theory is on the table for discussion in corporations across the globe today. It works on the basis of using small nudges to drive people to take the right decisions. In a learning context it has a lot of potential to help motivate and encourage, to improve the outcomes of training programmes and deliver more ROI on training investment. So, how do you incorporate it into your current approach?

Nudge Theory – origins

The book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness is largely credited as being the launch of Nudge Theory into the general consciousness. It is all about using nudges to get people to voluntarily change their behaviour, for example to commit to ongoing learning. Nudges are short, sharp interventions that are designed to produce a series of responses that move individuals towards a specific goal. If you want to integrate Nudge Theory into your business learning there are some key factors to bear in mind.

Incorporating Nudge Theory into learning

  • Timing is everything. If you’re able to time the nudge at the right moment it will lead seamlessly into learning. For example, make training available when employees have less work to cope with, during the run up to assessments or if your business is about to go through a big transition.
     
  • Opt for visual media. Video, for example, is popular for delivering the right nudge. Short videos that focus on the importance of a specific topic (e.g. business comms) and issue a learning challenge can be very effective in terms of generating responses.
     
  • Introduce an element of privilege. For example, you might want to make access to a specific course or training programme by nomination only. This will give those who are nominated a sense of privilege that is likely to be highly motivational when it comes to getting the most from the training.
     
  • Create a social discussion. Use a social forum or platform to generate interest in training or learning. This will encourage a natural sense of enthusiasm and competition, as well as an opportunity for those who are interested to find out more.
     
  • Communicate directly with learners. Use your staff emails to provide information about potential training – don’t forget to include a link so that employees can instantly connect with it. Text messages and WhatsApp groups are also very effective when it comes to a direct nudge.
     
  • Use your management structure. If courses are assigned by managers – or even just encouraged by them – many employees will feel nudged into the direction of completing that training.
     
  • Look into options to gamify. Sometimes the motivation to take part comes from a sense of gamesmanship. Options for gamification may include leader boards, points and badges.
     
  • Get feedback from learners. You’ll not only nudge them into going forward to take part in further training but be able to improve what’s already on offer. Positive feedback can also be used to nudge those who have yet to complete the training to sign up.


Nudge Theory has proven to be very effective across many industries and has a lot to offer the learning world.

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