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Jo Ayoubi

Track Surveys

Senior Consultant & CEO

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How Do You Get People More Involved in Learning & Development? Nudge Them!


We’re hearing a lot about Nudge at the moment.  Put simply, Nudge is a book by Thaler & Sunstein on the science of how people use mental shortcuts to make decisions. The key message of the book (and the research it’s based on) is that, by following some simple design and communications techniques, we can effectively ‘nudge’ people into participating and engaging with all sorts of processes, from sticking to exercise regimes and diets, to paying their parking fines and tax bills.

Because our work is all about making processes like 360 Degree Feedback, Appraisal, Assessment and Goal Setting easy, we went looking for a model that would allow us to put the Nudge ideas into practise. We found the EAST Model from an organisation called Behavioural Insights, a public/private organisation which studies behaviours through actual testing with control groups.

The EAST model says that to effect behaviour change, interventions need to be Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely.

We’ve taken the key ideas behind EAST and applied them to the work we do online with our clients’ processes.  Here are some great ways to increase people’s involvement in training, development, assessment and other people related activities, both on and offline.


-Clean language: keep the language of you people tools simple, behavioural and relevant to the organisation. Don’t talk about concepts that are not used in everyday communications, don’t go ‘over people’s heads’.  

-In assessments or online surveys, don’t use ambiguous statements, or statements (or questions) that are multiple – one question, one answer.

-Avoid long emails – trying to explain everything in an email just doesn’t work. Try a different approach, a very short email, with a link to a short video. Cut the information into shorter chunks, they are easier to digest. Use colour and font in emails to create interesting visuals that help people to understand what they need to do (but that are not distracting).

-Think about the process step by step, and how you can remove anything that is a barrier to action.  Online, this might be a matter of reducing the number of clicks from 3 to 1, or choosing from 3 options rather than 10. 

-Don’t make navigation complicated, make it simple.

-Make it easy to go online, don’t enforce separate emails for ever interaction; one portal, one set of login details for all interactions, everything in one place

-Allow people to complete on different devices – make it easy for them to interact.

-And make it easy and fast for them to get help when they need it. Engagement rates are higher when people can get a fast answer to their questions.


-Make it clear what the process will be – provide an infographic rather than copious written notes.

-Make sure any reports are graphical, intuitive and easy to understand – and not too long!

-Encourage people to share their photos if there is an online portal: people are attracted by pictures, graphics and colour. It’s also been found that photos jog people’s memories and help them focus on feedback and performance.

-As well as visually attractive, make the process something that is both fun and rewarding to do. Some of our clients introduce non-financial rewards or incentives, such as rewarding successful team by donating to their favourite charities.

-Another client publish completion rates for their 360 process by team: this fires up the competitive spirit of the teams and helps them to chase up feedback from colleagues and clients and to value that feedback because of the commitment they have made to obtaining it.

-Promotion and sponsorship of influencers in the business can make a process more attractive; these influencers may not be the most senior people, but rather the people who are looked to as leaders in their peer groups, or who are role models for success in the business.

-Visibly reward managers and leaders who do get involved in development, who develop their teams, who provide feedback and help with goal setting.  


Sociability is critical for human beings to function and thrive.

-Use networks and influencers when communicating your project: if everyone around us feels positive about something, it’s highly like we will be too (the importance of social proof). Include updates about how many people are involved and engaged, to prompt others to join in.

Can you encourage people to share feedback online, especially when it’s positive, or about a team, or to encourage online discussions about performance?

Team discussions can be a great way to introduce and encourage participation in people processes – it’s really important to include the message that this isn’t from HR, but from their teams and colleagues, and for their benefit.

Regular updates and reminders are a simple form of nudge – make the message slightly different every time, make it interesting and maybe frame it as a quiz question.


Well-timed, relevant messages increase response rates: too many messages are ignored, but too few reminders can be just as damaging. A final reminder a day or two before a deadline can be very effective.

However, for goals that might need complex actions or time to action, get a system in place that will regularly remind people when their goal review dates are coming up, well in advance of the completion date.

Fast support when people need help or the answer to a question, makes the process more likely to be completed, and makes it a more positive experience for them.

Also, context is important, so if you’re getting feedback on a project, do it when people are just finishing the work; don’t wait till 2 months later as they will have forgotten about it and moved on to the next thing.

Include a phase within the project that helps people to get over the Intentions v Behaviour gap, by helping them to identify barriers and facilitators, and creating a specific plan of action.

Get nudging!

Nudge points are not difficult to put into your project or process; thinking about how you can make your process, design and communications as user-friendly as possible will increase activity, quality and engagement.

If you’d like a summary Infographic of this article, email me and let me know.

For HR, Learning and Talent, Track 360 provides Simple solutions, driven by powerful technologies. For more information on Track 360 and the work we do, contact me or call us +44 20 7206 7279


  • Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow: Daniel Kahneman
  • Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness: Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein
  • EAST: Four simple ways to apply behavioural insights: Behavioural Insights Ltd 2014

Author Profile Picture
Jo Ayoubi

Senior Consultant & CEO

Read more from Jo Ayoubi

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