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02/16/2016

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What is the saying? "You can lead a horse to water . . . . " When 'cafeteria compensation' started considerable research was done of workforce choice-making. Initially, 'cash' was to be one of the choices and the original idea was to offer a 'cafeteria' of choices as an alternative to cash. However cash turned out to not work because the IRS said that if cash is an option every other benefit pick would be taxed as cash. So the initial idea of choice-making options died. However, the research on choice-making had predicted that most members of the workforce would pick cash over whatever else was offered.

One tech company that had invested in a substantial 'employee fitness program' including an 'on-site gym' was concerned about usage. To improve gym usage they provided strawberry shortcake one day a week for those that visited the gym. Not suprisingly gym visitation increased on 'strawberry shortcake day'.

We buy a lot of toys for our two cats mostly because we think the toys are 'cute'. However, the cats most often ignore the new toys and sleep all day. Is there a message in that somewhere?

If you have a problem with nudging, Jacque, then how can you stand operating in HR and participating in compensation management? Trying to influence human behavior is the bedrock foundation of our profession. Don't tell me you don't care what kind of work output results come from employees! Would be hard to design programs to produce desirable outcomes that lack any "nudging." A carrot is a nudge (inducement) to a horse, isn't it?

I'm overjoyed to see the behavioral economics topic covered, being a big fan of the practical writings of Dan Ariely, PhD ("Predictably Irrational", etc.).

The book, Nudge, referenced here gives some employee benefit applications of the nudge idea:

https://nudges.wordpress.com/tag/401k/

Thanks for the comments all. The book Nudges is good and thanks for sharing Ross. Google has done some of this stuff but didn't go into it for lack of space. Read Lazlo Bock's book Work Rules or google (LOL!) "Google and behavior economics" to see some examples.

Jim --- what I mean is that it seems to me that using nudges can become a slippery slope if the "wrong" people use them. Since we are in an election year --- need I say more? :-)

Jay agree that it takes work to find just the right motivator.

I've read recently that when AI becomes really advanced/human people will be "shaped" by it. Example: Someone wants to do something entertaining one night. AI will give him/her specific options. If the person wants to do something not listed AI just keeps presenting those same options. At some point the person gives up and chooses one. Not what he/she wants to do -- but tired of hassling.

Can you see where this might be done on a
"grander" scale? I.e. people will be shaped by whatever AI wants. And what if AI is giving you options that are not in your/humanity's best interests?

Excuse me --- in a previous life I was a conspiracy theorist!

The "wrong people" are always the ones most eager to influence (nudge) you, it seems. Watch out for the Prime Programmer, Jacque! GIGO is a very ancient acronym.

At the time I'm talking about people won't be programming computers. They will be programming themselves.

Read what Stephen Hawkins has to say on the subject of AI.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-03/stephen-hawking-warns-artificial-intelligence-could-end-humanity/5935772

I completely agree. While it's of benefit to a company to have healthier workers (lower benefit costs, less obvious loss of productivity in sick days, etc.), forcing them to do so is invasive. When did it become the company's job to push a certain lifestyle anyway (beneficial or not)?

I guess it always comes down to a very basic question - what business is the company in? Is it doing whatever they do to make money or pushing certain benefit programs?

Thanks for your comment Kevin.

Great post, Jacque! It's good to see more research and evidence from more fields of study applied in Rewards, beyond the 'usual suspects.' The integrative nature of rewards requires keeping up to date, reading extensively, maintaining an open mind, debating, discussing, designing, and discovering new solutions, etc. These are reasons I come to this cafe. Otherwise, it can be intensely stultifying when dealing with the state of practice in regions/locations still largely stuck in compliance- and copycat- modes of practice, where few are willing to change, where pushing the envelope is hazardous, stark, and lonely work. Thank you again.

Thank you! The world is moving so fast now that it is difficult to keep up, much less think ahead. But as Compensation professionals we owe it to our "customers" to be agile and push the envelope.

Here's a blog post I'd love to share with everyone about some great TED Talks that I think have relevance to employee benefits:

http://www.griffinbenefits.com/employeebenefitsblog/3-great-ted-talks-in-the-era-of-choice-and-consumer-driven-healthcare-cdhc

- Dave

Thanks, Dave. Excellent resource!

Thanks Dave. I have written a post here about the choice issue: http://www.compensationcafe.com/2015/10/the-paradox-of-choice.html

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