It’s well established that innovation is key to delivering growth in most organizations. We live and work in an era where technology is developing at rapid speeds and companies must constantly evolve to keep up. But often, making changes which can help to drive a business forward can also result in new ways of working, which isn’t always popular with staff.
One of the most important aspects of successfully implementing any form of change or innovation within an organization is ensuring employees are bought into the idea; they are the ones whose daily lives are affected after all. If staff aren’t on board with new ideas, it can be incredibly hard to implement them. So how can companies ensure their employees embrace changes which are required to move forward?
New ways of working require new ways of thinking
When considering implementing a new change to the working environment, design it for success as well. Take, for example, a new system to help people collaborate online. The new system will help people in their day-to-day jobs, but it also requires a new way of working and – more importantly – a new way of thinking. It’s important to think about the new behaviour which is required to effectively use this new system and build it with this in mind.
Most implementation projects within organizations will include a behavioural change program in some form. These focus on raising awareness amongst staff, but this is not the only aspect businesses should think about for a new project to be a success.
To deliver sustainable behaviour change (to get employees to both work and think differently) the system should be designed with this in mind, not only when introducing and implementing it. It’s crucial that businesses think about who is going to use the system and design elements to support basic personality traits and behaviours to allow for a smooth transition.
A good way to do this is through gamification, which a number of companies have trialled. It has been proven that gamification can be used to motivate and facilitate people to change the way they think and act. The use of game psychology, personality theories, and different kinds of psychological models can be used to focus on Persuasive and Motivational Design (PMD). The intention of PMD is to design for sustainable behaviour change among users to help them reach their objectives through innovation. PMD has been used for over two years in a course program at Atos, taught as a course at a university of applied sciences and has been tested in several business settings. These include at a big cable company to motivate employees to learn a new system, and at a department of the Dutch government for employees to collaborate online and for security awareness. By incorporating PMD into the design of a new project, it allows for a more sustainable way to bring about change within an organization. PMD focuses on three key aspects: Goals, Behaviour and Motivation.
A reason to implement change within an organization is often to reach work-related goals more efficiently. These can be business objectives of the organization itself, but also personal objectives of staff. It is paramount that these objectives are aligned so that staff working towards their own personal objectives also help to achieve business objectives. The effort a member of staff is willing to put into reaching their goals can be influenced by their difficulty. It’s often advised to break down larger goals into sub-goals so the end goal seems more achievable.
When designing for a change in behaviour, it is important to firstly understand the change you want to make. Consider the background of the users, understand their current behaviour and the behaviour which is required to reach the desired business objectives. By formalizing the current behaviour and required behaviour of the users, it is possible to visualize the required behaviour change and design for this accordingly. Really getting to understand those affected by any change in the business is crucial for success. For example, if you have non-competitive people, they are unlikely to engage with a battle or leaderboard style of exercise.
Motivation to change is one of the important aspects of a behavioural change process. When looking more closely at motivation, psychologists distinguish two kinds of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is because we get a reward, or we are required to do something. Intrinsic motivation is motivation because we simply love doing something, think it is important and/or see some improvements in our life; no reinforcer is required to motivate someone into showing a certain behaviour. Research shows that getting employees more intrinsically motivated can have several benefits for an organization. When employees are more intrinsically motivated they deliver higher
quality work, have higher work satisfaction, lower absenteeism and lower staff turnover. To get the target audience intrinsically motivated, we need to first get them through different phases of extrinsic motivation. Using PMD we can design for this evolution through motivation, and focus on the aspects needed to get the target audience intrinsically motivated.
By using PMD when implementing any innovation, businesses can increase the probability of employees’ accepting change. We have developed a framework based on PMD to be used in the design process of any project, for example, when looking to introduce new information systems. I will discuss this framework, as a result of my current PhD-project, in my next blog post.
 In game psychology it is argued that the psychology behind games can shape and sustain a behaviour change. Game Psychology explains how people should interact with (game) elements using motivation and behaviour theories from different fields of psychology.
 PMD is a result of the PhD project I am currently working on. More information can be found in the published article about it ‘Using Game Psychology in Information System Design for Sustainable Behavior Changes’ at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7780319/