I believe HR would be a industry that applied behaviour analysis would play an important role in.
I would like to pursuit a career in HR consultancy and use the techniques learnt in ABA to help my client firm improve the work efficiency and motivation of their employees.
First of all, what is behaviour analysis? It is the science of increasing or decreasing the frequency of a certain behaviour using reinforcement and punishment. Reinforcement refers to positive outcome of an behaviour here, if a favourable outcome follows an faction, the action is more likely to occur in future.
Take the work of HR consultancy as an example, if a HR director comes to be for advice because he faces the problem that the employees have low work motivation and which leads to low quality of work. Knowing that the tradition of the company is that if a team is asked to do a proposal, then the proposal would only be seen by the director then brought to the client for approval. Firstly I would define the target behaviour as being conscientious when drafting proposals. Employees do not do that may due to a lack of reinforcement. I would set the reinforcement as appreciating the employee’s work each time when they submit a proposal. They employees could be asked to present their ideas in front of the whole company whether or not the proposal is accepted by the clients. This type of reinforcement could build up ‘image motivation’ which means one’s behaviour being visible to other people. A study by Ariely et al. found that image motivation is more useful than monetary incentives in public prosocial activities and private activities (Ariely et al., 2007). Individual’s work motivation could be improved by just knowing someone would look at their work and appreciate their achievement. This is an interesting idea in ABA because it points out the importance of non-monetary reinforcement in the work place.
I hope these interesting techniques I learnt in ABA could help me with my future career in HR consultancy.
Ariely, Dan, Anat Bracha, and Stephan Meier. Doing good or doing well? Image motivation and monetary incentives in behaving prosocially. No. 2968. IZA Discussion Papers, 2007.