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Honk for behaviour change

Mumbai is the fourth most congested city in the world and is notoriously loud due to excessive honking of car horns. To combat the noise pollution, which has been shown to increase stress levels, Mumbai authorities have recently implemented a ‘honk system’.

The aim is to change the behaviour of impatient drivers who tend to blow their horns relentlessly at the traffic lights. The mechanic is simple - the more you honk, the longer the red light stays. If you’re more patient, traffic lights will turn to green faster for you.

At times, people need to be nudged to become better versions of themselves. The ‘honk system’ is a great example of how even simple game mechanics can effectively change behaviour. And while this example is changing the behaviour of motorists, workplaces too can use this as a model to improve employee behaviour and performance.

The need for a behavioural perspective in the workplace

Behaviour is a core aspect of an employee’s overall performance and engagement as well as organisational performance. According to research, disengaged employees have cost American companies more than $500 billion a year. On the other hand, employers with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable.

One aspect of behavioural science is gamification, the use of game mechanics to engage users and solve real world problems. According to 53% of tech innovators, gamification will be used widely in 2020. Businesses, educational institutes, and the healthcare industry are key players expected to use gamification to achieve their strategic and behavioural outcomes.

Using game mechanics at work does not necessarily mean playing video games or using Lego at work, and game mechanics can be used in a professional way. One survey shows that 83% of employees who engaged in gamified training say that they feel more motivated, and 89% say that they can be more productive if their tasks are gamified. Other companies using gamification to motivate their employees have seen a 48% increase in employee engagement.

Like the Mumbai police, employers should make use of the latest insights from behavioural science and implement mechanics to recognise and reward workplace behaviours and join the leading companies who are using gamification to increase engagement, boost performance and build culture.


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