How Nudges Benefit the Adoption of a New Employee Recognition Platform

Adding a new solution to the growing tech stack can be a difficult endeavor. In this article, we’re going to talk about nudges and how they directly benefit the adoption of a new employee recognition platform.

February 8, 2023 By Ivo Jurcic Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!

When enterprises roll out new employee recognition platforms, they cross an important threshold and come one step closer to becoming a truly people-centered organization. 

Employee recognition platforms empower leaders to recognize and reward their employees. 

They’re absolutely central to fostering a culture of recognition. 

Be that as it may, introducing change to a complex work environment is always a challenge. While the change is welcome, it inevitably requires employees to master the new technology and use it every day to recognize each other and redeem rewards. 

McKinsey and Company studied the success rate of digital transformation in companies. The results are not promising. Only 26% of tech-savvy companies, such as telecoms, media firms, or technology developers, are successful in adopting new tools. 

For traditional industries, such as oil, gas, infrastructure, automotive, and others, the success rate falls somewhere between 4-11%.

What is Nudging

Nudging is an interventional concept rooted in behavioral psychology.

It states that by using subtle, low-cost interventions, one can influence an individual’s behavior, achieve predictable outcomes, and may lead to a big impact on overall behavior. 

The chief principle of nudging is to steer people while respecting their freedom of choice to do otherwise. 

The concept was introduced by two Harvard behavioral economists, Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler in 2008, when they studied how introducing good choices to a choice architecture can help people act in their best interest. 

For example, when people are reminded that vaccines prevent greater harm from a viral infection, they are nudged to get vaccinated and act in their own best interest. 

The reason why nudging is an important tool for adoption is that people have a limited attention span that gets additionally divided when doing multiple things at once. 

Nudges help people focus attention and make a choice. 

Since 2008, nudging mechanisms have been implemented by governmental institutions, organizations, and companies across the globe. 

There are two excellent examples that help illustrate the benefits of a cleverly implemented nudging mechanism. 

The first one comes from the University of Chicago. 

A 2019 study observed how sending SMS reminder nudges to voters has encouraged turnout and increased the likelihood of voting by 4%. 

Another study from the Insead Social Science Research Center found that nudging students by showing nutritional information about available foods in the cafeteria led to healthier food choices. 

Before we talk about implementing nudges for adopting employee recognition tech, let’s briefly explain 6 categories of nudges. 

Three Categories of Nudges that Benefit Adoption

According to research, nudges fall into six categories: facilitate, social influence, reinforce, confront, deceive and fear. 

Employee recognition solutions are the tools for building company culture. A healthy culture cannot be borne out of feelings of fear, confrontation, deception, and doubt.  

In the context of adopting new tools for employee recognition, we will focus on the first three categories: facilitate, reinforce and social influence.

They  rely on positive psychology, instead of nudging people to behave out of negative feelings.


Facilitate-type nudges enable decision-making by leveraging an individual’s inertia and reducing the amount of mental strain needed to make a decision.

People resist change and opt for choices that require the least effort. 

Most individuals pursue the principle of choosing not to choose to maintain predefined actions.

By setting up a predetermined system of good choices, the choice architecture sets up a specific status quo that will make the individual more likely to follow up on them. 

The three most common examples of facilitate-type nudges are:

  • Default options; maintain the same course and mitigate the risk of error by setting up a desirable default state that users can change, but would have to dedicate effort 
  • Opt-out policies; enroll users automatically, but allow the option of them to opt-out
  • Suggested alternatives; offer different choices to users and focus their attention on actions they did not consider 

Social Influence 

Social influence nudges rely on an individual’s tendency to comply with social norms and their desire to belong to a group. The overwhelming majority of people want to feel like a part of a whole, especially a group of people they admire and look to for support. 

There are three motivations used to nudge users:

  • Invoking feelings of reciprocity; if one user completes a positive action toward another user, the latter tends to respond to their generosity with an equivalent action
  • Leveraging public commitment; individuals who publicly commit to a certain action are more likely to follow up and actually complete it
  • Raising the visibility of users’ actions is a tactic of promoting desirable behavior that others will repeat


Reinforce nudges increase the desired behaviors by increasing their presence in an individual’s use time. 

For example, if a car driver deviates from the ideal consumption of fuel by roaring their engine often and driving inefficiently, a nudge will appear and direct their attention to this behavior, and provide light feedback. 

The most common examples of reinforcement nudges are:

  • Just-in-time prompts; reactive nudges that draw attention to an action shortly after it occurs and remedy it with feedback
  • Ambient feedback; reinforce actions and behaviors while being least disturbing mid-use, so that the course correction is subtle and does not break the user’s flow

Impact of Nudges on Technological Adoption 

Users do not always behave rationally when adopting technology. 

They face a host of conscious and unconscious barriers and biases that keep them from using new solutions, even though they may understand their benefits on a rational level.

In this context, a nudge is any minor feature of the new tech environment that diverts attention and guides behavior in a way that doesn’t compel or force. 

By doing so, nudges can bypass the insurmountable resistance that employees display, even when the tool has the promise to improve their everyday operations. 

The HR technology commonly used by large enterprises can track individual behavior, distinguish between different employee attitudes, and gather analytics for processing. 

Additionally, AI is becoming an increasingly important factor in HR tech for enhancing the employee experience. 

These functionalities enable employees to make better recognition choices (i.e. using the solution frequently to recognize their peers) and adopt the R&R platform. 

One fascinating study published by Cambridge University Press delivers a framework for the responsible use of the nudge approach to reinforce a behavior change. 

The framework introduces 4 dimensions of nudging interventions: 

  • Active decision-making
  • Passive decision-making
  • Changes to the decision environment
  • Additions to decisions environment

The pursuit of achieving goals within deadlines by using reminders navigates between these interventions. 

For instance, setting 2-page printing as a default for the office printer is a passive decision-making change in the user’s decision environment that aims to reduce paper waste. 

Another study, published by the Harvard Kennedy School, investigated the impact of nudges on education technology. 

The study showed that standard and simplified opt-in processes cause low take-up. 

When subjects had opt-in processes where they manually took up courses, they would enroll in fewer courses and achieve low adoption. 

On the other hand, automatic enrollment brought higher take-up rates and significantly improved student achievement. 

After learning about the increase in take-up rates, the study reports a 140% increase in willingness to pay for educational technology when implementing automatic enrollment. 

By the same token, nudge technology was identified as one of the top 10 strategic technologies that impacted higher education in 2019, according to Gartner

Overall, nudges have a positive impact on adopting technology because they leverage passive decision-making, introduce active and passive additions to the user’s decision environment, and effectively steer them toward actions that encourage adoption. 

Since we’ve covered the brass tacks of nudging and how it affects the adoption of tech, let’s talk about how they help employees embrace a new recognition platform. 

How Nudges Help Employees Adopt a New Recognition Platform’s Features 

After the onboarding period is completed and employees know how to use the platform, the battle for adoption truly begins. Nudges are indispensable adoption support features that help mobile users embrace the new recognition platform. 

Here are four instances where nudging makes a difference. 

Ensure Consistent Use of the Platform’s Features 

Employees need to be consistent in sending recognition to colleagues and interacting on the social feed of the platform, in order to become everyday users. Once logging in and using the platform becomes standard practice, the solution is adopted. 

Nudges are here to ensure consistent use. 

There are many instances in which employees rely on R&R platforms. 

For example, these can be:

  • Sending and receiving recognition from their peers
  • Redeeming rewards
  • Commenting on the social feed
  • Participating in celebrations of Moments that Matter

However, when employees are onboarded, they often focus only on certain aspects of the platform.

After all, no onboarding process ensures a 100% adoption rate where employees know every single feature and use them diligently. 

Most employees will understand the chief function and get a general idea of how the platform works. But by using only some functions periodically, instead of all of them regularly, the adoption process suffers. 

Employees eventually forget about other functionalities and use the platform only to do one or two things. 

The ambitious goal of everyday use drifts further away and the platform achieves its potential to drive cultural transformation. 

Lucky for HR, nudges turn the tide. 

For example suggested alternative messages, divert users’ attention to other features they haven’t explored or used recently. Let’s say an employee hasn’t recognized any of their peers’ MTM, a simple notification can remind them that a specific moment was important to that colleague and that they can send a recognition and write something meaningful. 

By setting up an efficient nudging system, a large workforce can use the recognition platform consistently without being overwhelmed by all the unique features. 

This offers a sustainable alternative to learning and adoption, contrary to a sort of big bang approach where the employees are onboarded as quickly as possible, expecting to use all the features from the bat. 

The truth is that R&R platforms have their own use dynamics and nudging helps employees adopt them organically with no forced interventions. 

It’s impossible to master 100% of the recognition platform’s features after onboarding. 

The process takes time. 

Nudges ensure all the features are consistently used, so new users don’t stop their learning process after mastering the rudimental functions of the platform. 

Reengage Lapsed Employees

Unfortunately, many companies are struggling with the adoption of new tools and technologies. McKinsey estimates that almost ¾ of digital transformation initiatives are unsuccessful. 

Although companies continue reinvesting in solutions that will improve their employee experience, adopting these tools is a steep climb. 

Managing change, regardless of whether the solution brings value to the workspace, is difficult. 

The average worker uses 9.4 different apps to pursue their daily work. Most employees are already juggling between a multitude of apps. Learning to use one more solution is perceived as an additional ask that adds to the confusion. 

Imagine the mental workload required for switching between apps:

  • Change of context and UI
  • Different sign-in if the solutions are without SSO
  • Break of concentration and workflow
  • Going to the knowledge base or requesting support if they run across functionality setbacks

All on top of their existing tasks and priorities. 

It’s no wonder why employees drop new apps like they’re smoking hot. 

Many organizational psychologists warn leaders against app fatigue in the workspace. Without a strategy that enables sustainable adoption with less mental strain, employees will keep struggling with new tools. 

Nudge technology offers an effective way of re-engaging lapsed employees with subtle messaging. When employees haven’t logged in to the recognition platform for a while, they receive a nudge that will divert their attention and suggest an action. 

For example, ask them if a co-worker has done anything recently that deserves recognition and remind them to log in to the platform to read it. 

This practice does wonders for re-engaging lapsed users. 

One of the best examples of the nudge success story comes from Duolingo, the language learning app. Duolingo utilities nudge to re-engage lapsed users and get them to log in and continue learning. 

With simple nudge messaging, users are reminded to log into the app and finish an action. According to Bloomberg, Duolingo has a staggering 55% next-day retention rate, meaning that every second Duolingo user logs in the next day. 

Nudging is an important part of a greater retention strategy that helps users return to the new app that provides value to them. 

Strengthen the Social Influence of Employee Recognition

Employee recognition is inclusive by nature. It extends to all employees and connects them whenever they recognize each other’s efforts or celebrate triumphs at work. 

Likewise, adopting an employee recognition platform is a collective effort. 

For the platform to achieve its outcomes of cultural transformation, all employees have to use it, so different segments of the workforce can connect and build an amazing culture together. 

Without a doubt, recognition is driven by a social component. 

One of the many strengths of nudges as an adoption support mechanism is their amazing to facilitate social influence and use it to include employees in the recognition process. 

Remember, the paper presented at ACM CHI, the premier international conference of Human-Computer Interaction highlighted three nudging motivations that leverage social influence: reciprocity, public commitment, and visibility of users’ actions. 

Here are two examples of how nudges can trigger two of these motivations, starting with reciprocity. 

When colleagues write a heartfelt recognition, most people feel the need to read what they had to say and write back a thank you. They also tend to reflect on their co-worker and think about how they contribute to the workspace. 

This does wonders for raising awareness of great performance. 

When users get a nudge that tells them a colleague has recognized them, they are inclined to log into the platform, read the recognition and leave a comment on the social feed. 

Repeating this process strengthens the adoption of the new employee recognition platform. Empathy is vital to 90% of employees, according to the Workplace Empathy study

The second example is highlighting the actions of other users. 

When certain employees are put to the spotlight, the organization promotes their behavior. It also creates a social aspect of recognition as a participating activity that is carried out on the platform. Imagine an employee who received an emblematic reward for the most recognitions sent. 

An effective nudging strategy would send a message to other employees citing the accomplishment of that particular employee, along with a link to send recognition to a colleague. This is a non-aversive method of reminding employees to recognize others and adopt the platform.  

Why Superior Integration Matters for Nudging

Outstanding employee recognition platforms offer in-depth integration on top of a client’s existing HCM system. By doing so, the new platform can consolidate with the client’s most valuable piece of infrastructure, instead of working as a standalone solution to cultivate recognition at the workspace.

This creates many opportunities for effective nudging strategies. 

For instance, integrating  recognition nudges within Microsoft Teams.

Teams is a go-to communication platform for countless employees around the globe. When the R&R tool can nudge teams users, it effectively direct their attention to recognition and supports adoption.

Here’s a practical example of recognition nudges within Teams, from our signature employee recognition tool JobPts.

Paired with Single Sign-on capabilities, the solution becomes wholly accessible, non-disruptive, and easy for employees to log in and use. This is how nudges synergize with other technology and support the adoption of a new employee recognition platform. 

Nudging technology is a fantastic adoption support mechanism. It can be hard to adopt a new solution, even if it’s something as beneficial and benign as a platform to recognize your coworkers and redeem amazing rewards. New users still have to master the UX, understand many features and functions, and of course, spend their precious time on the platform to get the most out of it. The last thing any point solution provider wants is to overwhelm their new users. Nudges are the perfect adoption support because they capture the attention of users in a convenient, non-intrusive way, which actually helps them focus and gradually master the solution, one recognition at a time.

Ivana Boshkovska, Product Owner at Semos Cloud

For this to work, the platform provider has to be able to deliver in-depth, partner-level integration. JobPts is built as an extension to existing HCM platforms, such as SuccessFactors or Oracle, instead of being a separate solution. 

For example, if your organization relies on SuccessFactors for human capital management operations, JobPts can be integrated and match perfectly with your organization’s existing HR tech stack. 

For a more in-depth insight into employee experience trends and HCM user recommendations, we suggest you download the Navigating the Employee Experience Era whitepaper. 



Nudging technology holds the promise of enabling sustainable, long-term tech adoption using non-intrusive methods and subtle interventions. It allows employees to discover their new employee recognition platform at a pace that’s comfortable for them but at the same time, keeps them focused and re-engages them in case they lapse.

According to Gartner, 50% of large organizations will have an R&R system in place by 2030 but many will struggle to achieve their full potential. 

Nudging tech will play an important role in securing strong adoption rates.