Behaviour research example: retaining female employees

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Challenge: Understand reasons for much lower retention levels of female employees in a professional services organisation
Our approach: Interviews with junior and senior male and female employees and male and female clients

A few of our recommendations to encourage better retention

  • Reconsider the business model where income is based on hours not results. Clients also expressed dissatisfaction with the system that encouraged the professional services company to pester them with unnecessary updates and lengthy reports. They preferred the approach of female account handlers, especially mothers with busy lives who delivered crisp summaries at critical intervals
  • Build connections up and down the organisation between new female employees and succesful family minded senior employees to share coping strategies and indentify effective policy updates
  • Develop alternative career paths where those (male or female) employees who wished to also have time with their families or other interests, could develop expertise and seniority in departments not requiring 24/7 availability

Timescale: 1 month

Behaviour research example: Nudging A&E patients

Challenge: Understand reasons for patients coming to A&E insted of using their GP and ways to affect that behaviour
Our approach:
visit A&E waiting room, interview patients and staff, observe behaviour

A few of our recommendations to encourage better choices for medical attention

  • There are two main patient types: the health manager and the health victim. It is

    Patient behaviour: health victim and health manager

    the latter group who are heavy users of A&E for a range of practical and emotional reasons, many of which can be addressed.

  • Nudging techniques are recommended to shift behaviour in a more patient-centric way eg raising awareness of the salient “cost” of their choice
  • Encourage patient empowerment / co-ownership. “It’s not only doctors or the Chief Executive who have responsibility for this hospital. We all must look after our society. This is a public service and we are all part of the public”

Timescale: 1 month
Full report: find it here: A&E patient behaviour

Behaviour research example: library non-users

Challenge: Understand reasons for current low usage of libaries among adult learners and recommend ways to increase
Our approach:
visit many libraries, talk to staff, watch behaviour, focus groups with  users and non-users

A few of our recommendations to encourage library usage:

  • The look and feel of libraries is offputting to non-users. More transparency,

    Striking architecture at Peckham Library

    openness, clarity, guidance
    “I’m not clever enough”, “it looks boring”, “there’s too many rules”…

  • Libraries have always been about making information and entertainment available to everyone. New initiatives can be guided by that light rather than by the books that were historically the only way to offer this service
  • The library needs to be run for the users not the staff

Timescale: 2-3 months
Full report: find it here on the MLA website (34 page pdf)

Mayor’s Award for Corporate Responsibility

“Corporate social responsibility doesn’t have to be complicated. We just believe in doing the right thing” announced Catherine Shovlin, Director of Customer Interpreter Ltd, when she stepped on to the stage at Blackheath Concert Halls this week to receive the Mayor’s Business Award for Corporate Responsibility.

After being involved with the complexity of social reports and sustainability issues in large companies, Customer Interpreter was well placed to develop its own approach—with the added benefit of starting with a clean sheet of paper. Their corporate social responsibility policy covers the staff, local community, premises, transport and consumables.

“Living in a diverse community like Lewisham gives us daily involvement with a wide range of individuals. Our contact with local suppliers and communities helps us a lot when it comes to understanding social issues and helping other businesses with their evaluation” explained Catherine.

Customer Interpreter and Social Responsibility. 9th in UK

Marketing and market research consultancy Customer Interpreter Ltd was set up in 2002 to bridge gaps between organisations and their customers. In this year’s BiTC Percent Club awards they have shown that it is also possible for small businesses to bridge the gap between work and community.Customer Interpreter’s contribution ranked 9th in percentage terms among all the UK businesses qualifying for the awards, described by Murray Armstrong in yesterday’s Guardian as “a towering 10.2% of pre-tax profits”. This is split between cash donations – mainly to Womankind Worldwide, and allowing staff time to work on community projects.”

Maggie Baxter, director of Womankind Worldwide is enthusiastic about the role of the Percent club in bringing business closer to not for profit activities, “We are delighted with the ongoing support from Catherine and Customer Interpreter. Our work involves helping women to get organised and to come together, often for the first time, to talk about what they want to change. We then help them achieve it.”

Founder and director Catherine Shovlin explained, “Often when businesses under-perform it is because connections have broken down. These may be between management and staff; often it is because decision makers are no longer close to the customer. We see close parallels in communities and are keen to use our skills to help where we can.”

Fast decision making is an advantage of small businesses. Customer Interpreter is also carbon neutral – it offsets its carbon emissions through tree planting. Catherine told us about the benefits of small business, “It is great to be able to get the whole team around the table and agree to do the right thing in a matter of minutes. We can usually implement policy the same day. We apply the same approach to the way we work for our clients”. 

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