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Competence Centre on Behavioural Insights

We support policymaking with evidence on human behaviour

Topic / Tool | Last updated: 15 May 2023

Behavioural insights for employment

Understanding how employers and employees take work-related decisions can help shape better employment policies.

Why behavioural insights matter

Employees acquire skills, look for a job and choose which vacancy to apply for. Once hired, they may join unions, negotiate their salary or request parental leave. Employers recruit, they choose which type of contract to offer, and they sometimes propose specific working arrangements such as homeworking.

Behavioural factors influence all of these processes. For instance:

  • When looking for a job, money is not the only motivation for people.
  • Stereotypes can lead to discrimination in the labour market.
  • Lack of trust may explain why some employers are reluctant to allow their staff to work from home.
  • If fathers believe other employees hold positive attitudes toward parental leave, they are more likely to request this benefit.

Understanding these behavioural factors can contribute to more effective and efficient employment policies.

How behavioural insights can help

Behavioural insights can help design better employment policies. For instance:

  • It is possible to help jobseekers deal with negative feedback on their applications, by teaching them to anticipate setbacks, plan alternatives and reflect on their feelings through expressive writing. This helps reduce distress and keeps the jobseekers motivated (for more information, see this literature review on the effectiveness of job search interventions).

  • Anonymous recruitment procedures may help decrease unconscious stereotypes against minority candidates on the job market, but could also decrease positive discrimination (see, for example, this paper on the impact of anonymous recruitment).

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