Behavior Change in Organizations
Heidi Zwart
behavior change in organizations

One of the biggest challenges for any organization is leading employees through change. While change is necessary for all businesses to grow and thrive in the evolving workplace, the management of the process can be difficult. There are several effective change methods, but these two standout models can be particularly useful to promote behavior change in organizations.  


Understanding how change happens and working to guide people through the process is at the heart of Prosci methodology. As leaders in the field of change management, they’re experts in implementing behavior change in organizations. One of their most effective processes is known as the ADKAR® model. ADKAR is an acronym for the five stages of awareness a person needs to go through for change to stick: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement.

For an organization, the process might look like this:

  1. Awareness of the business reasons for change. Awareness is a goal or outcome of early communications related to an organizational change.
  2. Desire to engage and participate in the change. Desire is a goal or outcome of sponsorship and resistance management.
  3. Knowledge about how to change. Knowledge is a goal or outcome of training and coaching. 
  4. Ability to realize or implement the change at the required performance level. Ability is a goal or outcome of additional coaching, practice and time.
  5. Reinforcement to ensure that change sticks. Reinforcement is a goal or outcome of adoption measurement, corrective actions, and recognition of successful change.

Behavior change in organizations is more likely to be effective when an organization recognizes the need for employees to move through this process and then builds it into their change management strategy. 

Think EAST

Behavior science studies human behavior and provides helpful findings that help promote behavior change in organizations. Changing habits is the backbone of sustainable behavior change, so building habits that stick is the goal of the EAST method developed by behavior change experts. EAST is an acronym that encourages the development of new habits by making the desired change easy, attention-grabbing, social, and timely. 

For a company, here’s what it might look like to encourage behavior change with the EAST method

  1. Make it easy: make it the default choice (opting out vs opting in), remove the hassle factors, or plan out implementation contingencies
  2. Make it attention-grabbing: set up clear and powerful cues employees can see (messages, posters), send reminders, or remove distractions in the environment 
  3. Making it social: create a community for interaction, create social commitments (a time/place for people to show up), or bring in experts who have been there
  4. Making it timely:  set deadlines, make a schedule, or cast the vision of what their future will look like when they make the change

Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play a role in how behavior change sticks, so a refresher on these motivators might be helpful before you create your action plan.

Whether the desired behavior change in organizations is big or small, both the ADKAR and EAST methods can effectively promote long-term, sustainable change. Because both are impactful yet distinct, consider using both complementary methods to maximize your results!

The BetterYou app uses behavior science to improve digital health and make it stick.

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