Strategy and Research

In 2016 Hill+Knowlton Strategies started the journey to become a B Corp. Purpose is at the centre of everything we do, and as we evaluated our own purpose we aspired to be a force for good for staff, clients and the environment. We didn’t want B Corp to be an arbitrary stamp of approval; it was important that staff felt part of the process. We made a lot of change already and realised remaining improvements would need to be driven by behaviour change. So H+K teamed-up with Do Nation, an initiative all about small actions adding up to the greater good. Do Nation is a platform where users pick from a series of ‘Do Actions’ inspired around environmentally friendly behaviours. Taken alone, they are small and easy to do, but when aggregated, ladder to significant change for the environment. Research shows it takes 66 days to form a habit, so we ran a two-month campaign using ‘nudges’ and communications activities to drive engagement.


With behavioural science techniques in mind, we created posters with different messages to engage staff. We focused additional ‘nudges’ around the two most popular pledges: “Tap It” and “You Mug”. The following three behaviour change techniques were identified to nudge employees out of mindless, habitual action around the office, and elicit values-aligned, responsible behaviour:

  • actor appeal – we reminded people of their values at the point of decision-making;
  • emotion – we used humour to interrupt people’s attention and bring mindful focus to their actions;
  • ‘Hawthorne effect’ – pictures of eyes are known to nudge responsible behaviours. We placed these at tea stations to great effect;
  • defaults – we created ‘friction’ around the use of disposal utensils, and removed friction around sustainable alternatives.

Following the introduction of behavioural nudges, there was an instant decrease of 88% consumption of disposable cups in favour of mugs, sustained at 80% over the following three weeks.

Creativity and Originality

While H+K employees consciously value environmental sustainability, most human behaviour is ‘mindless’ at the time of decision-making, which results in non-conscious actions that contravene our values.

By implementing behavioural science techniques, we engaged staff in a unique way. In addition to the posters, we also distributed water bottles with the Do Nation and H+K logos. Staff reported feeling empowered to talk about H+K’s desire to become a B Corp, actions taken to improve green credentials, and, as an added benefit to the business, many felt more equipped to sell purpose consultancy to clients.


198 H+K employees pledged; an average of 5.3 Do Actions per person
48% successfully completed their pledges; of these 99% said they’d continue their new habit
73% reported an increased sense of pride towards H+K
55% reported an increased awareness of actions H+K has taken to improve our environmental impact
78% of eligible employees reported a reduction in use of plastic water bottles (48% reducing use ‘significantly’)

Find out more about how H+K SMARTER applies behavioural science to communications campaigns.

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