As difficult as these challenges are, some businesses have gained a competitive advantage by incorporating behavioral science insights when developing best Human Resources practices. It has been discovered that businesses get better results from their efforts when they understand how behavioral science can help with everything from organizational culture to employee experience.
What exactly is Behavioral Science?
In its most basic form, behavioral science is the study of the brain, with the goal of discovering how human psychology works and what the brain requires.
However, behavioral science is also the study of how emotions, the environment, and social factors affect the way humans make decisions by incorporating psychology, cognitive neuroscience, economics, law, political science, and behavioral aspects of biology.
Behavioral science heavily borrows from social science methodologies, primarily by conducting experiments with randomized control trials that allow us to make causal inferences about specific mechanisms that drive human behavior. Behavioral scientists conduct experiments to learn why people do things rather than just observing what they do.
Even though people can and frequently do make “irrational” decisions, it turns out that there is a method to the madness of decision-making. Because our irrationality has “predictable” patterns, once we understand these patterns of human behavior, we can use them to design environments that help people make better decisions. Applied behavioral science can have a positive impact on decision-making, whether in public policy, product design, marketing, or developing personal habits.
How Has Behavioural Science Changed in Recent Years?
Previously, decision-making was based on professional expertise and stakeholder interests when HR professionals met with business leaders to strategize ways to maximize internal employee management within the company. However, there was a shift in business settings that began in the 1990s, including organizational data when strategizing; as a result, people analytics and people analytic teams emerged.
People analytics investment accelerated in 2021 and is expected to grow further in the coming years. People analytics teams now have one person for every 2900 employees, up from one for every 4000 in the previous year.
However, there is a growing trend to include another factor – scientific research for performance enhancement and HR management development. Human Resources require proven data to make intelligent, business-value decisions, just as doctors require research to help them diagnose and marketing teams require research to create effective ad campaigns.
How Can Behavioural Science Be Used in Human Resources Today?
Companies can now advance when decisions are made based on evidence-based facts that consider human behavior to achieve an advantage in managing human resources effectively by incorporating it into the following methods
Training programs that provide supervisors, line managers, and even business leaders with a firm understanding of how people react to situations will improve how they guide and direct people at work. This type of leadership encourages innovation and can improve your organization’s overall culture.
Programs for Professional Development
Recognizing that most people prefer control and options, an HR professional can create self-motivated programs and offer various paths.
Preparing Work Schedules
Because most people can only concentrate for 20 minutes, creating work schedules and meetings that encourage designated breaks and provide snacks and hydration to re-energize the brain will increase productivity.
Organizations can develop programs that promote diversity and inclusion for better departmental functioning by recognizing the importance of social acceptance, belonging, and relationships.
Recognizing that people require a sense of purpose in their work, businesses create a company culture with shared goals that foster employee “buy-in.”
Using Behavioural Science Research in Human Resources
After organizations see how behavioral science can be used to develop best HR practices, the next step is to integrate it into HR strategies. There are several tips for expediting this process.
To begin, work to establish a data-driven organizational culture within the organization. More effective policies will be implemented by educating and encouraging people to use data-driven decision-making for every change that is implemented.
The next step is to evaluate a problem and effectively arrive at a reasonable solution.
Finally, share the findings with all stakeholders. It will be simple for you to tell the story of why and how your result can bring significant business value as a data-driven HR professional.
What Are the Advantages of Behavioral Science in Human Resources?
It is common knowledge that when something is studied and understood, far better results can be obtained. One of the many advantages of behavioral science is that it brings the human element back into the equation.
Nothing can be accomplished unless people handle customers, build products, and move the company forward.
Every HR professional has a story about how they implemented a strategy at work and didn’t get the desired results because it was based on bias or assumptions rather than facts. This most likely resulted in lost time, money, and professional embarrassment.
Behavioral science experts frequently emphasize the importance of understanding how people behave when running a business or working for one. Behavioral science can help to improve two critical workplace domains.
People have prejudices that influence their decision-making. For example, we frequently make decisions based on our values, education, age, and so on — or choose to connect with those who share them.
Cognitive bias is frequently present during the hiring process. Recruiters subconsciously evaluate candidates and prefer those who they believe are more like them, both professionally and personally. Employers can form an opinion about a candidate in the first few minutes and then look for information to confirm their bias.
Because of the recent effect, behavioral science has shown that candidates who are interviewed last are more present in the recruiter’s or employer’s memory. As a result, the first interview can serve as a guide for the evaluator when judging other candidates. Such biases or prejudices can be addressed to a greater extent through data-driven recruiting.
HR managers and business leaders can use behavioral science approaches to identify key employee motivators. A financial incentive for employees with the requirement to spend at least half of their time on their coworkers often has a positive effect on productivity. David Halpern has proposed two mechanisms to accomplish this. To begin, employees should talk to their coworkers to find out what they want, thereby creating a more cohesive environment. Second, spending money on others elicits a positive emotional response.
Leading Companies Using Behavioral Science for HR Initiatives
Assume stakeholders are still hesitant to use behavioral science in HR. In that case, it may be time to demonstrate how some leading companies have already incorporated behavioral science into their decision-making for exceptional business results.
Google bases its decision-making on an evidence-based approach known as “People Operation.” They accomplished this by importing the People Innovation Lab and conducting new research to develop the correct hypothesis and conclusions that enriched Google’s practices. It improved on numerous HR fronts with products that aided in leadership development, effective teamwork, employee well-being, onboarding, and much more.
Capital One improved its leadership effectiveness with its employees by examining the scientific evidence on which behaviors were associated with exceptional leadership. They identified 13 behaviors and incorporated them into their new manager leadership program.
The Big Idea
Recognizing employees’ workplace behavior is a big step for HR managers. People want to feel like they’re making progress, and the team leader’s or HR manager’s awareness or assessment plays a big part in that.
Given that human resources are a continuous process of evolution, focusing on human nature is akin to repairing a car without understanding how the engine works. Connecting behavioral science with HR and the workplace makes sense because it will have a significant impact on business goals and is necessary for developing HR management.