How Insights from Behavioural Science Can Help Corporates in People Management

What are the Reasons for the Increasing Popularity of Behavioural Sciences?

Behavioural Science has gained popularity among management professionals and laypersons alike in recent years.

This is mainly due to its theories and concepts as well as insights into how people behave and can be conditioned to behave that are quite useful for corporates in people management efforts.

Indeed, as the name implies, the art and science of how people behave in particular ways and can be made to behave under certain conditions has gained traction due to the ever increasing need for people management in corporates.

As we move towards a model where people are the main assets, it is important for corporates and Human Resources Professionals to gain insights into how they can be made to be productive and gainful in their careers.

Of course, behavioural sciences are popular with laypersons as well since its insights into human nature can be applied by anyone and everyone, anywhere and everywhere, anytime and every time in all situations.

Moreover, there is a surge in interest pertaining to how motivation, herd mentality, irrationality and rationality as well, and cognitive and unconscious and conscious biases drive human behaviour among a diverse audience.

Human Irrationality, Biases, and Nudges to Induce Behavioural Changes

To start with, let us look at how the insight of irrationality and rationality drive behaviour is concerned.

Most Behavioural Scientists agree that humans are irrational in nature and hence, assuming bounded rationality in their thought and actions is unreasonable.

So, HR professionals and People Managers have to start with the Axiom of Irrationality when they interact with employees and work from there to ensure that they behave in rational ways.

Indeed, in our working experience, we have found that conscious and unconscious biases tend to play a major role in Employee Behaviour and hence, to lessen the impact of such factors during the working lives, we found that assuming rationality among thought processes and actions can lead to outcomes that are different from what were envisaged.

This is the reason why insights into how people can be made to overcome their conditioned biases can help anyone who is managing people.

Through Nudges and other incentives, we found that employee behaviour can be changed to suit the expected outcomes and hence, this insight is particularly valuable for anyone who encounters diffident and difficult employees.

Indeed, a key reason why Behavioural Sciences became so popular is due to this Nudge Theory.

How the Nudge Theory of Human Behaviour Became Popular among Psychologists

Staying with the concept of how Nudges can motivate employees, it is often the case that employees can be motivated to take up challenging tasks which appear difficult or even impossible to begin with.

By using incentives and a Carrot and Stick approach, people can be nudged to do the impossible.

In addition, the study of how conditioned biases impact behaviour is another insight that is quite useful. It is always better to probe the psyche of employees to understand what is holding them back in performance and then proceed to apply the motivational and other theories to move them towards the intended goals.

Indeed, as the bestselling book, Predictably Irrational puts it; there is almost a certainty about how we can predict someone’s behaviour based on our experiences of interacting with them.

The challenge of managing recalcitrant employees often proves difficult for managers and this is where Behavioural Theories can help them manage such employees better. In addition, biases and prejudices that are inherent to all of us can vitiate the working culture and that too in these toxic times.

This can be managed with the help of trained experts who can study such behaviours and suggest positive remedies.

Why Corporates Must Engage Experts and Invest in People Management

Having said that, it is not always the case that Theories and Insights can be used by all provided they have read all the bestsellers in the field of behavioural sciences.

Indeed, while we recommend reading such books, often it is the case that trained psychologists and experts are often the best bet for corporates to help them in managing people.

In recent years, there has been a trend where many Multinationals and other corporates have engaged psychologists and behavioural sciences experts to help them in people management.

The point here is that as the insight of the Invisible Gorilla makes it clear, experts and trained psychologists tend to see things that laypersons or for that matter, even seasoned managers can miss.

Therefore, our suggestion to corporates is that it is better to have professionals do the job of probing employee behaviours and then coming up with recommendations on how to induce behavioural changes.

Moreover, while Changing Minds may be easy, changing behaviours is not that easy as years of conditioning and habit forming actions can be hard to overcome.

Apart from that, the Mind Body Link in changing behaviours is another challenge that needs a trained eye to spot.


Last, one must realise that while all this theory and insight might look good on paper, in practice, it is only experience and situational management skills that come in handy.

Therefore, if corporates are really serious about inducing behavioural changes, they must have a longer term perspective and not expect instantaneous results.

After all, our behaviours are the sum of what all we have thought and experienced over the years and hence, working through the cobwebs of our minds and inducing change takes time and effort and in the case of corporates, money to hire the experts and make plans.

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