QR Codes: One underrated organisational change tool?
Organisational change is hard to achieve. It usually takes time for the new habits and norms to form. Incentives do help in the short term. Yet people have become used to stimuli like external incentives. How do we sustain change in the longer term?
QR codes may be one way to do this. Any organisational change manager worth their salt may be critical. For this option to work, it needs two things. The clever use of QR codes would need to raise awareness and instil behaviour change.
Could the humble QR code drive achieve sustainable and significant organisational change?
The humble QR code has a variety of uses across many industries, so why not use them in the workplace? QR codes — if used correctly — can be a great way of reinforcing organisational change.
The pandemic brought about wide-scale usage of QR codes. So what are QR codes?
QR codes are those square barcode things.
QR stands for ‘Quick Response’, which aptly describes the technology. These are two-dimensional barcodes developed in Japan in the mid-1990s. QR codes hold more information than older one-dimensional or linear barcode formats like UPC or EAN. They store data as a pattern of black and white pixels that give information to a mobile device’s camera. Customers may scan these codes with their smartphones. QR codes provide solutions like website access or Google maps directions. You can ever learn more about an item for sale or make purchases.
QR codes come in handy for changing employee behaviours.
QR codes for microlearning
Time-poor employees on your hands? Do they hardly read your organisational change communications? Is there another way to get their attention? How about an information micro-dose?
QRs can provide employees with microscopic “pearls of wisdom”. Accessible at any time during the day. In meeting rooms. Kitchens. Anywhere an employee may stop for a moment.
What might be your information micro-dose?
What form could your micro-dose take? Short videos, links to useful websites or small amounts of text. Valuable tips, workplace etiquette reminders or using workplace technology come to mind.
Microlearning for organisational change examples abound:
- A QR code on a printer takes employees to an intranet page outlining key messages. Key messages may include suggestions on printing less and company environmental policy
- A QR code in an elevator that takes you to a video about a new employee wellness initiative
An experimental and playful mindset can help your change initiative!
Could QR codes serve workplace nudges?
What are nudges? Minor changes to the environment that use positive reinforcements and indirect suggestions. Nudges don’t enforce mandatory requirements. Instead, nudges influence people’s behaviour in a preferred direction.
Many companies use nudges for consumer behaviour change—a typical example of a nudge is hotels offering incentives for guests who reuse their towels.
Nudges can take many different forms. They don’t have to be digital, as they could take the form of notices on employee noticeboards or posters in lifts. I called these non-digital nudges behavioural intercepts.
Anywhere you want to encourage people to make a small change that adds up over time! There are lots of ways you can use QR codes in this process. On lunch menus, above toilet doors, on staff posters.
Nudges -> behaviour change -> habits -> culture
Using nudges can help people change their behaviour to help an organisation reach a particular goal. When I work with organisations on cultural change, the below quote comes to mind:
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words.
Watch your words, they become your actions.
Watch your actions, they become your habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
So thoughts -> words -> actions -> habits -> character -> destiny?
In organisations, my thinking on changing organisational culture goes along similar lines. Nudge employees to try a new way of working. A target behaviour, if you will. What if this behaviour repeats? It becomes a habit. Your organisational change is going well if employees have adopted a new habit. It could be using a new system. Or working within a new operating model.
What happens when a habit becomes a norm in your organisation? New employees undergoing onboarding experience two things. They learn the new habit as part of onboarding. They also see these behaviours demonstrated by others.
What happens when habits embed? They become part of an organisation’s character — or culture. Does an evolved organisational culture become its destiny using Lao Tzu’s logic become its destiny?
OK, so we’ve gone into “big picture” territory here. Yet if we go back to QR codes, can they play a small yet vital role in this?
QR codes can provide a nudge towards changing behaviour. Once employees use QR codes, you have unlocked many new opportunities. Awareness and behaviour change are moments away for employees. They have just-in-time ways to find what they need when they want it. Your just-in-time avenue to learning and action means less friction.
It’s now up to you to deliver content in bite-sized sessions via this QR code avenue. This just-in-time solution is a far cry from forcing employees to sit through long, boring training sessions. Their new training facilitator is their mobile phone.
It’s exciting to explore the potential of QR codes. May you find clever and impactful ways to use QR codes in your organisational change!