Nudging Municipality of Boxmeer: our experiences

Since 2017 we have been helping the Municipality of Boxmeer to embrace and apply nudging. The Municipality of Boxmeer is an innovative, medium sized municipal organization that is always looking for smart solutions to improve their organization even further. The Municipality of Boxmeer already has a low number of FTEs per 1,000 inhabitants, a substantially lower hiring and higher civil servants satisfaction than the average municipality in the Netherlands. The rise of nudging  in various commercial companies triggered the municipal secretary to explore the application of nudging in the Municipality of Boxmeer. This as a good addition for the well-known instruments of reward and punishment.

The Municipality of Boxmeer has searched for something digital to help discover the possibilities to leave nudging in the organization within the moves. In the first instance, it concerns the nudging of its own civil servants; at a later stage, the nudging of citizens will also be discussed. We have organized workshops for both the Communications & HRM department, for all Heads of the Municipality Service and for a Nudging Working Group. This posting tells about our experiences at nudging in the municipality of Boxmeer.

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how did we proceed?

nudging municipalityThe first step was to make the notion of nudging more widely known to the officials involved. To this end, a number of workshops were organized, all filled with examples of successful nudges. The next step was to bring together all the managers and team leaders within the municipality. After all, they are to embrace and support that nudging. Finally, a working group has been appointed that has actually started working with a few nudges. In this scenario we have shared our knowledge and approach to seek out opportunities for successful nudging.

resistance to nudging

Resistance to nudging often stems from the fear of manipulation. The main rule is that you only have to nudge if you can be completely transparent about the reason of nudging. So no secret agendas or hidden objectives. Nudge only if you can always explain why you nudged. In fact, successful nudges are always about goals that everyone agrees with. The art is to appeal to someone through his subconscious choices.

In addition, nudging of employees is quickly about monitoring behavior. After all, without measurement it is not possible to (if necessary) adjust the effects of a nudge. One of the conditions for successful nudging is that some form of monitoring of behavior is possible (or that one is open to it). Think of monitoring:

  • response times
  • turnaround time of files
  • work processes

nudging in gemeente schaap

nudging municipality a challenging task

Another finding is that it is not so easy to develop a nudge. First of all you have to choose a behavior that you want to nudge. In addition, you often have to redevelop or re-design a service or process: what is the current and desired situation, what behavior do we see now, which behavior do we want to stimulate, how do we want the process to proceed? Some nudges also require ICT adjustments, or the development of certain tools. These are reasons that it can be helpful to involve people from the outside, and preferably people with nudging experience.

take small steps

Our advice to start small: take a behavior that is very common, which is relatively measurable, and which has a lot of effect on the quality on the work floor or certain services. In Boxmeer, two nudges have been developed, one to nudge the use of a certain staff entrance, and one to nudge the call-back request that the customer contact center uses. These nudges are currently operational and the results will be known in the course of 2018. Of course we will report on this at the time.

Nudging in gemeente tijgerapproach and roadmap for nudging municipality’s

We have developed a roadmap with which a municipality can develop nudges. The plan is as follows:

  1. situation analysis: current versus desired situation: behavior, consequences, desired situation and effect
  2. game theory: coordination game or trust dilemma?
  3. checklist basic principles of nudging: unconscious behavior, transparency, freedom of choice, measurability
  4. develop the nudge: social norms, awareness, communication, thresholds, alternative behavior
  5. measure & evaluate

in summary: keep it small and concrete

In summary; it is important to work with those involved on concrete, small behaviors. A step-by-step plan as developed by us is a very useful tool. This allows people to develop nudges in a structured way. Measuring the effect is of course essential. External assistance ensures the necessary fresh look.

Want to know more about nudging?

lees de bestgelezen blogposting op deze site. Interesse in nudging voor uw gemeente? Bekijk onze workshop nudging voor gemeentes. Benieuwd wat som nudging voor uw gemeente kan betekenen? neem vrijblijvend contact op

Make sure to read the best-read blog posting on this site. Interested in nudging for your municipality? Take a look at our nudging approach or contact us directly.