Closes in 10 seconds skip ×

A Former Google Exec Wants to Help You Make Better Choices

Short, simple "nudges" can have a profound effect on engagement.
By: | January 2, 2019 • 2 min read

Although he no longer works at Google, Laszlo Bock is anything but idle. He’s currently the CEO of Humu, a company that uses people analytics and artificial intelligence to identify behavioral changes employees can make to create a more engaged and satisfied workforce.

Built on the foundation of Richard Thaler’s Nobel Prize-winning research, Humu administers and analyzes employee surveys to identify individual behavioral changes that will have the biggest impact on improving overall workplace satisfaction. “Then it uses emails and text messages to ‘nudge’ individual employees into small actions that advance the larger goal,” writes Daisuke Wakabayashi from the New York Times.

Thaler’s research finds that decisions are often made for convenience’s sake, rather than best interest. To combat this, Thaler says people need a nudge.

Advertisement




“Often we want to be better people,” Bock told the NYT. “We want to be the person we hope we can be. But we need to be reminded. A nudge can have a powerful impact if correctly deployed on how people behave and on human performance.”

When Bock worked at Google, the Internet giant used nudges to help employees waste less food, choose healthier snacks and even save more money for retirement. Humu is tailored to reflect the nuance of every organization and can detect changes in sentiment over time.

Sanjiv Razdan the chief operating officer of Sweetgreen, a salad retailer and client of Humu told the NYT that he was skeptical about nudges at first, but because there had been proven success at Google, he decided to give Humu a try. After receiving nudges, which are short, simple messages, he said it was easy to act immediately.

Advertisement




Humu also accurately identified a chief concern for Sweetgreen, said CEO Jonathan Neman, employee retention. After surveying 1,800 Sweetgreen employees, Humu’s algorithms identified that too few workers agreed with the following statement: “I believe there are good development opportunities for me at Sweetgreen.”

From there, the recommendation was for store managers to conduct one-on-one meetings with their direct reports to discuss career-development goals. A nudge email to one of the head managers Mountain View Calif. read:

“Consider what skills each team member needs to be successful, both in their current role and longer term in their career. Take notes. Preparing this list of skills will help you spot opportunities for your team as they arise — so it’s worth putting the work in now!”

Danielle Westermann King received her bachelor’s degree in English from Temple University. She has written and edited articles for various print and online healthcare publications.

More from HRE