Nudgestock 2021: What WPG learned at the behavioural science conference

Mental health tools, wellbeing in the workplace and mindfulness were all topics of discussion at Ogilvy Consulting’s recent behavioural science festival, Nudgestock. Our team of work psychologists tuned into the one-day virtual event on June 11th to see counterintuitive ideas discussed and debates take place with some of the planet’s boldest thinkers.

Nudgestock 2021

On the day, there was a broad range of speakers.

From author, biomedical engineer and senior policy adviser Guru Madhavan – who championed aiming to be less efficient – to actor-turned-author John Cleese who held a fascinating talk on creativity.

We learnt about the roots of casual Fridays too, which actually started off as ‘Aloha Fridays’ in Hawaii and was first advertised by a Hawaiian shirt manufacturer.

There were also talks from renowned psychologist Daniel Kahneman, comedian and highly acclaimed TED Talk speaker, Ruby Wax, and the co-founder of the Behavioural Sciences Practice at Ogilvy, Rory Sutherland.

So, what did we learn?

To put it simply: a lot. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman provided helpful tips around reducing ‘noise’ – especially when making decisions that we think would be highly relevant in a selection and assessment context.

Amelia Powell, Consultant at WPG, said: “Noise, he describes, is unwanted variability. Even when the same person measures the same line on multiple occasions, they may get slightly different measurements. This is not necessarily bias, as it can go in either direction.

“Professor Kahneman talked about including a diverse range of inputs when decision making to reduce this noise as averaging many individual measurements will result in the most accurate judgement. Applying that to selection, we need to be thinking about diversity of input in our decision–making processes and striving for multiple assessors to score candidates.”

Taking an active role in our wellbeing

Mental health is receiving lots of attention right now. And for good reason. Burnout levels have rocketed over the past 365 days and we’ve had a year of living and working in isolation.

The team tuned into a talk by Rob Stephenson, founder of mental health tool FormScore, who spoke also about creating a universal language when it comes to wellbeing in the workplace.

Amelia said: “Rob mentioned that we’re now lacking ‘recovery breaks’ that we may have had before such as a commute. And many of us don’t have the discipline to put them in place when working from home. For example, going for a mid-afternoon walk or coffee break.”

Rob said noticed that in the UK we use ‘you alright’ almost as a greeting and wondered whether we can we be more intentional when we ask and answer this question.

Worse than this, we have also learned to accept ‘I’m not too bad’ as an acceptable level of wellbeing.

FormScore is a seemingly simple concept that gives us a new language to track our mental wellbeing with a score, out of ten.

Amelia said: “A universal tool like this is especially interesting in our virtual world where it’s not easy to see how our colleagues are feeling. We’re less connected and in tune with each other. It’s empowering to know we can influence our own wellbeing by being intentional.

“This links back to Guru Madhavan’s discussions around efficiency – in that sometimes we can be ‘too busy to be effective’ if we’re not looking after our wellbeing, building in microbreaks in our days and taking the time to do things that boost our moods,” Amelia added. “It’s definitely some food for thought.”