Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

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Podcast Episodes

What is behavioral economics? Why does it matter to you?

392. The Intrigue of Incentives with Tim Houlihan (Refreshed Episode)

In this episode of The Brainy Business podcast, host Melina Palmer and special guest Tim Houlihan open a window into the intriguing world of motivation and incentives. This thought-provoking discussion sheds light on the unexpected triumphs of non-monetary rewards over cash, offering compelling evidence from the frontline of employee engagement. 

As they share personal tales and professional insights, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the nuanced ways in which we can all reach our goals more effectively. They challenge traditional wisdom, advocating thoughtful goal-setting and emphasizing the impact of non-monetary recognition on loyalty and drive. This episode invites listeners to rethink what motivates them and provides practical guidance on setting personalized goals. Perfect for anyone interested in applying behavioral science in practical settings, this conversation could change how you approach motivation in both personal and professional landscapes. Tune in for an enlightening exploration of human behavior that will leave you both informed and inspired.

In this episode:

  • Understand the Power of Motivation and Incentives in the Workplace: Explore the impact of effective motivation and incentives on employee engagement and performance.

  • Harness the Influence of Non-Monetary Rewards on Employee Motivation: Discover how non-monetary rewards can drive employee motivation and lead to improved workplace dynamics.

  • Utilize Behavioral Science to Set Effective Goals: Learn how to apply behavioral science principles to set goals that drive employee productivity and satisfaction.

  • Evaluate the Impact of Incentives on Employee Performance: Gain insight into how incentives can influence and enhance overall employee performance within an organization.

  • Develop Strategies for Personal and Business Goal Setting: Acquire practical strategies for setting impactful personal and business goals that drive success and fulfillment.

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00:00:00 – Introduction
Melina introduces the episode and guest Tim Houlihan, discussing the focus on motivation and incentives in behavioral science.

00:05:38 – Setting BHAGs and Breaking Them Down
Tim and Melina discuss setting big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGs) and breaking them down into smaller, actionable parts called “bricks.”

00:09:08 – Importance of Self-Selected Goals
Tim emphasizes the importance of self-selected goals and the role of visualization in achieving them, discussing the impact of shifting perspectives on goals.

00:11:32 – Virtual Runs and Motivation
Melina shares her experience with virtual runs and the shift in perspective on goal achievement, highlighting the impact of social media on goal commitment and achievement.

00:13:12 – Deadlines and Choice Architecture
Tim and Melina discuss the effectiveness of deadlines in goal achievement and the role of choice architecture in setting specific final objectives while allowing flexibility in execution.

00:15:26 – Individualized Performance Rewards
Rewards were individualized based on performance, leading to a significant 43% improvement in performance compared to general guidelines.

00:16:09 – Penalty for Underachieving
A separate group faced penalties for underachieving and no benefits for overachieving, leading to a more calculative mindset and lack of intrinsic motivation.

00:17:07 – Call Center Environment
The conversation delves into a call center environment, revealing how different personalities approach goals and the impact of choice architecture on performance.

00:19:19 – Context Shaping Decisions
The context, including payment rates and communication of objectives, can shape individuals’ decisions and mindset, impacting their approach to achieving goals.

00:23:16 – Time-Sensitive and Measurable Goals
Setting time-sensitive and measurable goals, with a focus on achievable short-term objectives, increases the likelihood of achievement and provides a dopamine spurt for motivation.

00:29:55 – The Importance of Participatory Goal Setting
Tim and Melina discuss the benefits of having a buddy or coworker to challenge and set goals with. They highlight the differences in goal setting between knowledge workers and other segments of the population.

00:31:37 – The Conundrum of Incentives
The conversation shifts to the counterintuitive nature of incentives, using the example of a daycare’s late pick-up fee. They emphasize the importance of non-monetary incentives in the corporate world.

00:33:50 – Engaging Emotions with Non-Monetary Incentives
Tim and Melina delve into the effectiveness of non-monetary incentives in engaging emotions and increasing effort. They share success stories of using non-cash rewards to motivate employees.

00:35:49 – Reconsuming Achievements and Memories
The discussion turns to the psychological impact of non-monetary rewards, such as designer handbags or trips, in reinforcing positive memories. They highlight the subconscious loyalty and motivation that results from reconsuming achievements.

00:40:22 – Individualized Engagement and Surprising Delights
Tim shares a story of a senior sales leader’s desire to win a watch as a prize rather than buying it. Melina emphasizes the importance of individualized engagement and surprising delights in motivating teams.

00:44:24 – Introduction to Behavioral Grooves and Music
Tim discusses his love for the podcast Behavioral Grooves and how it combines his favorite things. Melina shares her excitement about the show and Tim’s playlist.

00:44:59 – Framing and Fancy Playlists
Tim talks about curating his playlist on Pandora and how framing works. Melina acknowledges the importance of framing and the impact it has on incentives.

00:45:17 – Conclusion
What stuck with you while listening to the episode? What are you going to try? Come share it with Melina on social media — you’ll find her as @thebrainybiz everywhere and as Melina Palmer on LinkedIn.


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