enthralling TMRE Day 2 presentation, does behavioral science stop at the
play and stress reduction, modern workplaces use behavioral science in all
sorts of ways. The concept is simple: discreetly ‘nudge’ people into behavior that
does them good and makes them happy. Small changes in the environment can make
a huge difference in this, because they shift people’s emotional response. As
Magnan put it, ‘we think much less than we think we think’. Emotions are the
restrooms. And that’s a bizarre omission, given how critical they are to employee
wellbeing and the fact that, well, everybody uses them. At Kimberly-Clark,
Magnan’s team made a few small changes ‘ adding lotions and boxes of Kleenex to
the restrooms ‘ and were wowed by the results. Restroom satisfaction jumped
from 17% to 77%. People reported lower stress and greater wellbeing. And there
was a knock-on effect on perceptions of workplace cleanliness as a whole. The
real insight? All these changes were most pronounced (by orders of magnitude)
Behavioral makeover required.
of the workplace. But what?
science based projects, who use psychoanalytical techniques to probe emotions
in far-ranging 1-on-1 interviews ‘ Magnan and her team vowed to find out.
you’re looking at emotional response, because they tend to play back
post-rationalised reasons instead of getting to the guts of an experience.
Magnan described how Brandtrust and Kimberly-Clark instead wanted to ‘ask the
bigger question’ ‘ getting to the difficult, perhaps uncomfortable truths
lurking behind such dramatic shifts in opinion. Empathy, she pointed out,
precedes innovation ‘ to respond to someone’s needs to have to walk in their
shoes, not just listen to their voice.
work? By answering that question Magnan was able to get a fuller idea of
the unique role the restroom plays in women’s working lives.
and confidence’ ‘ working lives made up of small victories and disappointments,
including dealing with levels of workplace discrimination. In an open office
environment, women feel all eyes are on them ‘ meaning they are always somewhat
alienated from their authentic self.
have permission to be alone in, where you can sigh, relax, and refocus
yourself. While American restroom stalls are perhaps too bijou for it, in other countries women talked about praying or
practising yoga in the restroom. It is a sanctuary ‘ a safe space of utmost
privacy. No wonder small changes made such a huge difference. The restroom is a
space where women ‘prepare and repair identities’ in the gendered panopticon of
the modern office. But it’s also a space where they can connect ‘ hierarchy relaxing
side-by-side in front of the mirror.
adding Kleenex boxes, flowers, full length mirrors (to check outfits properly)
and slates with inspirational quotes. The results were a huge success. As one
woman put it, ‘it reminds me so much of my restroom at home’. Exactly.
behavioral science. Not just to transform experiences and emotions, but as a
way in to asking far bigger questions which can lead to deeper human truths
emerging. She left the audience with four take outs. First, empathy precedes
emotion ‘ only by empathising can we find insights. Second, risk asking the
better question ‘ go wider, deeper, less straightforward. Third, know your
mission ‘ remember the ultimate goal of your behavioral project. And finally,
find your passion within the mission ‘ Magnan’s obvious love of and belief in
her work shone through this presentation.