Social Psychology Tips To Engage And Motivate

Last week, Paul Hebert spoke at the Greater Cincinnati HR Association meeting. I first met Paul at HRevolution and then was captivated by his presentation at the Ohio SHRM in 2011. As the Managing Director and lead consultant for I2I, he is widely considered an expert on what it takes to engage and motivate people. Specifically, he talks about social elements that impact behavior as well as the way in which the human brain processes requests and makes decisions.

The use of social psychology techniques in communications is nothing new. Advertising and marketing folks have used these techniques since the first billboards were created in caves (ok, I might be exaggerating a bit). I’m sharing Paul’s tips this week so you can think how you might apply them to your communications.

Elements of social psychology

  • Reciprocity: People tend to want to comply with a request if they’ve already received a favor.
  • Commitment and consistency: People like to remain consistent with past behaviors and commitments.
  • Social proof and consistency: People tend to follow the behavior they see in others.
  • Authority: People unconsciously follow advice from perceived authority figures.
  • Because: People subconsciously respond to requests when the word “because” is included. Always provide a reason for the request.

How could you apply these techniques?

  • Consumer driven plans: Get employees to share stories about how they saved money by researching and comparison shopping for services (Social proof). Include stories from doctors who are not threatened by patients who ask questions and are involved in their care, but rather, encourage patients to do so. (Authority).
  • Wellness initiatives: If you are going to ask employees to compete in a fitness challenge, take a poll prior to the campaign to ask them which activities they’d like to participate in and get them to affirm they’ll participate. (Commitment). Give regular updates of how teams are performing throughout the campaign (Consistency).
  • Retention: Use a variety of testimonials from employees about how they have benefited from the benefits and services the company provides (Social proof).
  • Training: To encourage more participation in training programs, focus on the number of people who are taking the training, rather than the opposite (Social proof). Be specific about how the training could improve employees’ careers (Because factor).

Do you have applicable success stories you’d like to share? Please post in comments.