Harnessing neuroscience for effective behavior change in the workplace

Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig
May 19 2024
3 min read
Harnessing neuroscience for effective behavior change in the workplace

In the recent “The Neuroscience of Positive Behavior Change in the Workplace” webinar, hosted by Growthspace on May 16, 2024, and featuring panelists Laura Woolford and Ellen Petry Leanse, participants gained insightful perspectives on how the brain processes behavior change and strategies to effectively drive positive transformations in the workplace. This engaging session shed light on the inherent challenges and practical solutions, making it a must-watch for HR and L&D professionals.

Erin Biehl, the host, kickstarted the webinar by engaging the audience with a thought-provoking question: “What is one behavior change that you would like to see at your organization?” Responses varied, highlighting the diverse challenges organizations face, from fostering a growth mindset to reducing passive-aggressiveness.

Ellen Petry Leanse, a bestselling author and seasoned leader, provided a deep dive into the neuroscience behind behavior change. She explained, “The brain is a survival technology that maps what it’s already done rather than what we intend it to do.” She further elaborated on the brain’s resistance to change due to its evolutionary focus on conserving energy and maintaining survival mechanisms. “The brain is a cheapskate. It preserves energy and is reluctant to embrace new behaviors unless they are proven to be safe and beneficial,” she noted.

Laura Woolford, founder of Wisdom HR Group, emphasized the importance of psychological safety in facilitating change. She stated, “You have to meet people where they’re at. Involving employees in the change process and ensuring they feel heard and valued increases the likelihood of successful adoption.” Laura highlighted practical methods such as roundtables, surveys, and focus groups to involve employees and reduce resistance to change.

Both panelists underscored the significance of creating an environment that encourages curiosity and embraces discomfort. Ellen remarked, “Comfort and safety are not the same. Growth is often uncomfortable, but it is necessary for development.” Laura added, “Learning to be uncomfortable is crucial. It’s okay to not have all the answers, but showing up authentically and with empathy makes a difference.”

In terms of actionable strategies, the panelists provided several insights. Ellen suggested setting clear intentions and values that support continuous improvement and openness to new ideas. Laura advocated for personalized development programs that cater to the unique needs of individuals, leveraging tools like storytelling and role-playing to enhance engagement and retention.

For those designing corporate learning programs, Laura advised, “Tap into tools like storytelling and scenario planning. Make the learning tangible and relatable.” Ellen echoed this, emphasizing the importance of addressing different learning modalities to cater to the diverse ways individuals process information.

The webinar concluded with a call to embrace the journey of continuous growth and development, recognizing that while the brain may resist change initially, fostering an environment of psychological safety and personalized growth can lead to meaningful and lasting behavior change.

If you’re looking to understand and implement effective behavior change strategies in your organization, this is one session you definitely want to watch.


Click below to see the full webinar:

Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig
Eric Bierig is an organizational development strategist at Growthspace. With an MSc in Industrial Organizational Psychology and experience in Talent and Organizational Development roles in various organizations, Eric leverages his subject matter expertise to share knowledge and best practices, build guides and materials, develop & execute new and impactful programs and products, and help enable both Growthspace and their customers in achieving their strategic initiatives. Eric is a husband, a father, an amateur musician, an avid hockey fan (Lets Go Rangers!) and a functional cereal addict

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