Nudging: give your employees a little push in the right direction

Many health campaigns focus on prohibitions and obligations: eat enough fruit, don’t take the lift, but the stairs... There are also many guidelines to increase safety at work. With nudging, a strategy borrowed from behavioural economics, you go further.

No choice restriction

The behavioural economist Richard H. Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economics on 9 October because of his work on nudging. This involves subtly spurring someone to change their behaviour, without restricting their choices or imposing obligations. The footprints on the floor that lead people past the lift to the stairs constitute a well-known example. The technique is based on the fact that we make many choices automatically, subconsciously taking prompts from the environment. By adjusting these signals – also called choice context – you can easily influence behaviour.

Mixed interventions

The effect of nudging on real health and safety in the workplace is being systematically investigated, but the positive impact of the strategy on behaviour has already been demonstrated several times.. Note: nudging is mainly reinforced by other interventions. Cleverly giving the public a mix of facts and highlighting that information through campaigns, together with nudging, will produce the best results.

An example:

Give the facts

Inform your employees on the new food and exercise pyramids.


Hang a poster in the company canteen.


Serve fruit at eye level to give them that final push in the back.

Your nudging strategy

There are several ways you can apply nudging in your organisation. Mensura will assist you by giving you knowledge and tools and by integrating nudging at work through workshops.

  1. Suggest an attractive choice.
    In the company canteen, present the healthy choice in an attractive way that stands out: people will choose a sliced apple in a nice bowl faster than a bruised, unpeeled fruit. With regard to exercising, nudging also makes a difference: by providing sheltered, guarded bicycle parking near your company’s entrance and making the car park less accessible, you encourage your employees to cycle to work.
  2. Subtly remind employees of their action points.
    On a post-it, encourage them to take enough walks or to check their e-mails only a few times a day. In its workshops, Mensura uses nudging to increase the resilience of your employees: participants learn to organise their thoughts and to breathe calmly whenever they see a stop sign on their way to or from work.
  3. Adjust the basic choice.
    Basic choices can often be adjusted in small things: for example, stop placing sugar near the coffee machine, and allow employees who sweeten their coffee to do that at their leisure. But it often goes further than that, by, for example, formulating questionnaires and forms in a positive way. Mensura plays a major role in this respect. For instance, office employees can specify in a standard question of risk analyses that they don’t carry heavy loads. By being offered that choice, they can skip the rest of the questions about hoisting, lifting, and physical loads. This way you avoid taking unnecessary measures for problems that do not actually exist.
  4. Increase the visibility of a choice.
    Do you have a vending machine? Then offer water or healthy beverages at eye level and place the soft drinks to be avoided at the bottom. Mensura’s workshops also focus on that visibility: together with participants, our experts create a do-book to increase resilience. Your employees will then leave that book in a conspicuous place at work.
  5. Tap into social conformity.
    People adapt to their social environment. Therefore, instead of saying “20% of Flemish people smoke”, say “80% don’t smoke”. Replace all the negative phrasing in your communications with a positive message. Your employees will then identify with the group that is doing well. Before you even realise it, they will have copied that healthy behaviour.

Are healthy employees your top priority?

Trust our experts to develop an effective health policy where the deployment of fit employees is central. Do you need more ideas, support or advice? Mensura will gladly help you to raise your company’s energy to its top level.