Happiness + Naps = Nappiness!

CAH’s World team is very excited to announce its newest partnership with Zilveren Kruis. With 5 million insured persons in The Netherlands, Zilveren Kruis is not only the largest health insurance company of the Netherlands but also of Europe as a whole.

To kick off this new collaboration, Dan Ariely and researchers of CAH’s World team conducted a workshop with Zilveren Kruis in the Netherlands on January 11th, 2019 to introduce behavioral economics principles and to brainstorm about areas where Zilveren Kruis can leverage behavioral economics to improve health and vitality in the workplace. These workplaces are interesting labs for research: it is an environment which can be changed and controlled quite well and there are social groups who can stimulate each other.

Programs aimed at improving health have traditionally intervened in people’s lives by providing information and education. On the whole, these programs have been ineffective at helping people make better health decisions. Therefore, most behavioral scientists agree that an increase in knowledge alone doesn’t change behavior. Instead, many behavioral scientists believe that behavior change happens as a result of a change in people’s environments.

Using the three B’s approach – identify key Behaviors, then reduce Barriers and amplify Benefits – workshop attendees were introduced to the behavior mapping exercise.

Step 1: Identify “key behaviors”
When we’re trying to change user behavior, we need to get very specific about the exact behaviors we want our users to perform. These “key behaviors” are the actions the ideal user would take. This is where the behavioral map comes into the picture. We listed key behaviors at the top of the behavioral map in the workshop. Key behaviors are not general behaviors which are hardly actionable like eating better. Rather, they are specific behaviors, such as eating a healthy lunch.

Step 2: Identify barriers
To build the map, the attendees of the workshop where challenged to visualize the users’ daily routine and think about whether there are barriers that would prevent users from performing any of the key behaviors. These barriers are written on post-it notes and placed under the relevant key behavior. After placing all of the barriers on the map, one needs to consolidate and classify each barrier as either “social” or “individual”. For example, a lack of proper footwear (e.g., high heels) is an individual barrier, whereas having colleagues who don’t walk is a social barrier.

Step 3: Identify potential interventions

Next, one needs to identify ways to eliminate all possible sources of friction and ways to encourage the desired behaviors. Attendees leveraged newly learned principles like loss aversion, social proof, self-herding etc. and created a list of potential interventions for testing.

Step 4: Test

The goal of the mapping process is to identify:

  1. areas where you need to gather further evidence
  2. areas where you are ready to run an experiment
  3. areas where you are ready to apply ideas to product development

During the workshop, behavior maps were developed for three target health behaviors: taking 20-minute naps, eating healthy lunches, and going on lunch walks. Participants learned to appreciate the importance of being specific, concrete and detailed when attempting to encourage desired behaviors. After the behavioral mapping exercise, each mapping group presented the primary barriers and proposed interventions to Dan Ariely and the CAH team. We were impressed by the workshop attendees’ insights.

One of the proposed interventions aimed to overcome the negative connotations of napping at work. The concept was nappiness, a combination of napping and happiness. Nappiness would include a scheduled midday resting period for all employees. Relaxing music, horizontal chairs, dimmed lights, and blankets would provide additional comfort, communicating that midday napping is not only normal, but expected.

When it comes to preparing healthy lunches, a lack of time seems to be the main barrier. One group proposed a buddy system to overcome this barrier. Employees would pair up and take turns preparing a healthy lunch for themselves and their buddy. Hence, the buddy system not only overcomes the barrier of limited time , but it also creates accountability: If you don’t prepare a lunch, your buddy will have to go hungry that day.

Another group made use of a public leaderboard to encourage regular lunch walks. Employees would place a sticker on the leaderboard each time they take a walk. In addition, team managers should invite their team for lunch walks to signal the importance of these walks.

Two key lessons that we recommend everyone keeps in mind when mapping their own behavior journey are:

  1. Do not put all of your faith in logic, reason, and providing information. Most things in life are more difficult than they appear. People are more triggered by what they feel and see than by facts.
  2. There are individual and social elements to behaviors and their corresponding barriers and benefits. These often need different approaches.

Overall, it was a highly successful workshop. We are very excited to start this new collaboration with Zilveren Kruis in creating sustainable health behavior change to improve health and vitality in the workplace. Stay tuned for updates on our upcoming field experiments!

Are you interested in this partnership? Contact Nina Bartmann, researcher and Zilveren Kruis Partnership Lead at the Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University, an applied behavioral science research lab that helps people be happier, healthier, and wealthier. You can reach her at nina.bartmann@duke.edu.

Is your organization interested in CAH World? Contact Jan Lindemans, Principal of CAH World, jan.lindemans@duke.edu.