Behaviour change is at the heart of all business transformation. But knowing how to achieve that change has become a multi-billion pound conundrum for businesses worldwide.

Organisations spend more than £200 billion annually on cultural transformation and employee behaviour change, yet only 8% of CEOs say they are able to see any impact.

So why, despite the huge investment, are companies failing to see much impact? Because most of the time we’re still reaching for the same five strategies over and over again…

The training programme

Employees today are often overwhelmed and typically have little more than 20 minutes a week to devote to learning. So it’s vital to create leadership training that has clear benefits for those attending and, just as importantly, communicate those benefits beforehand.

Organisations often fail to capitalize on momentum afterwards too. Studies show that if you don’t reinforce what you learn, 40% will be forgotten within 24 hours.

It’s a problem that many of Hive Learning’s clients have faced and we’ve solved it by providing an engaging, social, mobile learning platform that sparks thousands of meaningful interactions on a daily basis. In fact, 50% of interactions on Hive Learning are outside office hours.

Face-to-face training programmes can still play their part in your organisation, but without the right support in place they will never deliver effective, continuous learning. Behavioural change needs to be a process, not an event.

The massive off-site

Corporate innovation events may produce a couple of invigorating days but then what? There’s every chance it will be business as usual back in the office.

As Paddy Miller and Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg write in their book ‘Innovation as Usual’:

“The pursuit of innovation should not be an exceptional event; quite the contrary, it should be unexceptional. You have to help your teams take the creative path, not just once, but as a repeated pattern of behaviour.”

Team off-sites can be a catalyst for change. But they must be well planned, and have clear, documented, takeaways for improvement. The entire team needs to know what’s expected of them when they return to the workplace.

The three-line whip

Fear rarely drives habit. If you want your employees to get on board with the change process, it’s vital you involve them at every opportunity. And you do this by creating an effective communication system.

Communication — and collaboration — are key; keep everyone in the loop with developments and make sure they understand the end goal.

At the same time, give them the opportunity to share ideas and concerns. This can actually help remove the fear of change for everyone.

Digital channels will give real momentum here. If you’re relying on face-to-face contact, change just won’t spread fast enough.

The communications plan

Companies have never had a more distracted workforce. We unlock our smartphones nine times every hour on average, and it’s estimated that workers get distracted every five minutes in the workplace. So a manual or a pamphlet, however glossy it may be, is unlikely to engage your teams.

Email is not the tool to drive corporate change either. The average worker receives more than 120 emails a day, so any internal communication dropping into inboxes is likely to be skim read at best.

Instead of trying to compete for attention, follow it by making your learning mobile and collaborative.

One of our clients, Scottish Rugby, have shown how effective this switch can be. They have moved from paper resources to actively engaging 7,000 coaches digitally, driving more than half a million learning interactions on the Hive Learning platform in a matter of months.


Empowering a pioneer group of first-line leaders, who have direct contact with customers and employees, is an increasingly common practise that can transform a company’s culture and fortunes.

But these ‘on the ground champions’ can only really make an impact if they are able to communicate and collaborate with leaders in other parts of the organisation. And without the right digital channels that’s a challenge; the result is often pockets of energy but a flatline of change at the organisational level.

Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends Study revealed that although 93% of organisations are planning to redesign their structure in the next two years, only 4% said they were ‘change agile’.

It’s definitely worth the time and investment though. Give first-line leaders the platform to lead and you’ll see new habits — not to mention great talent — flourish.

There’s a real fear of the unknown when it comes to change; we are driven by well-honed habits and the prospect of adjusting to new ways of thinking can be daunting.

But, as James Clear points out, behaviour change does not have to be radical:

“A new equilibrium is best achieved through small wins each day.”

And it’s modern digital platforms, supporting continuous and collaborative learning, that will enable you and your team to make those all-important daily improvements.

Angus McCarey is CEO of Hive Learning, the collaborative learning app for leaders, teams and organisations.

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