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The PraisePal Solution

Meet Nir Eyal: Behavioural Design Expert, ‘Prophet of Habit-Forming Technology’, and Advisor to PraisePal

Can there be a simple reason why everyone around the world is addicted to the same tech tools? Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, Email, Online shopping apps—you name it. We just open them like second nature, even without thinking.

That reason is found in Nir’s book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, where he breaks down the formula behind how we form subconscious habits like opening our email the moment we pick up our phones. His book is found on the top shelf of every tech leader section worldwide, and on the front page of every search for ‘Best Product Books’ lists.

Besides being a bestselling author, Nir also co-founded and sold two tech companies and was dubbed by The M.I.T. Technology Review as, “The Prophet of Habit-Forming Technology.” He also invests in habit-forming products that improve users’ lives. Some of his past investments include Eventbrite, Kahoot!, Canva, and Product Hunt.

He has since joined PraisePal to build and scale the habit of recognition in workplaces worldwide. We had the privilege to catch up with him to learn more about building habits for good, his recent move from New York to Singapore, and why he chose to join PraisePal.

Why do you only work with companies and products that create positive habits?

I love behavioural design and user psychology, especially when applied positively. In general, I want to help people reduce distractions and time-wasting with technology. So, as an angel investor, I set out to help companies create products and services that build healthy habits and align with the Hooked model.

Being focused helps me avoid investing in areas I don't understand or give a unique advantage. So I've passed on crypto, pharmaceutical, etc.

I specialise in products that depend on and create repeat engagement. And this has led me to companies like Kahoot (publically traded and valued at $4 billion) in the business of ed-tech. To date, about 30 companies have my backing.

Recognition is a simple yet powerful habit to keep team members motivated. Yet studies show that most people still do not feel recognised at work, despite many companies saying that they have established ‘Employee Recognition Programs’.  Why is that so?

I think it’s primarily that it’s been too difficult to recognise coworkers consistently. In reference to the Hooked Model, the “action phase” has too much friction.

People want to recognise the contribution of their teammates but it’s just too hard to do it. Existing Employee Recognition Programs consist of the recogniser filling up long paragraphs and submitting them to HR.

We’re honoured to have you onboard PraisePal! Why did you decide to join us?

I know that employee retention and engagement are incredibly important, and something that affects a company’s bottom line. It’s not just about making people happy; it’s about keeping people employed.

Anything that can increase job satisfaction and lower employee turnover is worth looking into. It’s a massive problem today.

Today, people view giving compliments and pats on the back as something they’re forced to do. “Okay, it’s time for my quarterly review. Let me think about all my colleagues and employees. Now I need to sit down and do a 360-review on each one”. It sucks. It’s incredibly difficult to do, takes a lot of time, and is not very accurate.

When you build a routine around giving employees recognition on a frequent basis, you incentivise and appreciate the behaviours you want more of.

But above all, you’re also getting a more accurate picture of the value that employees are providing based on the recognition they’re getting from their colleagues.

"Anything that can increase job satisfaction and lower employee turnover is worth looking into. It’s a massive problem today."
— Nir Eyal, Best-Selling Author of "Hooked" and "Indistractable" & Advisor to
PraisePal

What would you say to aspiring entrepreneurs who are wondering what product they should build?

First, you need to answer this two-part test. The first part would be to ask yourself if your startup idea has the ability to materially improve people’s lives, followed by whether you are the user. Only you can answer this question.

If you can answer those two questions affirmatively, you are what I call a ‘facilitator’. It’s a huge competitive advantage when you want to build something that can improve your customers’ lives.

Improving Remote Team Productivity With The ‘Hooked’ Model

PraisePal was built to scratch our own itch - the challenges in keeping teams productive and motivated remotely when the pandemic just hit. Since then, it has helped teams worldwide, including implementing with global banks, FMCG, retailers, and tech companies.

Here’s the Hooked formula that Nir has devised to have users repeatedly perform the desired behaviour:

1) Trigger: What is the habit that you want to change in the user's behaviour?

To identify the trigger, I would start first with finding out the behaviour, and ask these questions:

  • What's the habit that you want to change in the user's life?
  • What is the behaviour that would fit with no conscious thought?
  • What is the psychological discomfort a user experiences if they don’t perform the behaviour?

With PraisePal, we are changing how people give recognition in the workplace. We often want to show appreciation to our team members, yet we don’t act on that intention.

This is because we are forgetful - “We will thank them next time”. A user’s internal trigger to recognise someone on PraisePal would be the fear of forgetting if they don’t do it right away.

Another trigger would be guilt. A real user example: A sales manager has inconvenienced her engineering colleagues to work over the weekend to help resolve a client issue. She felt guilty and wanted to give them appreciation for their help.

Her internal trigger of guilt and desire to show appreciation makes her recognise her colleagues on the platform. “It’s the least I can do for all their help.”

"With PraisePal, we are changing how people give recognition in the workplace. We often want to show appreciation to our team members, yet we don’t act on that intention.
Nir Eyal, Best-Selling Author of "Hooked" and "Indistractable" & Advisor to
PraisePal

2) Action: What is the easiest action the user needs to take, in order to perform the behaviour?

No matter how strong their internal trigger is, users will not perform the action if it takes a lot of effort. Your product has to make it as easy as possible for the user.

Traditional recognition programs require a lot of effort from the user. You will have to fill up paragraphs in a form and go through multiple review processes before you can even nominate your colleague to get recognition.

On PraisePal, all team members can recognise each other easily simply by sending an instant message. Recognition messages are published on a public feed right away, and visible to the entire organisation.

The ability to assign company values and pre-populate recognition templates also make it even easier for users to fill up the recognition message. The convenience of giving recognition thus encourages it to happen more frequently.

What makes PraisePal different from traditional employee recognition programmes and initiatives?

When you allow users to select a company core value to recognise employees on PraisePal, which pre-populates a template for them to fill up; I think this is a great example of the action phase.

You need to make it as easy as possible to recognise your colleagues and leave them with a reward, and I love that about PraisePal.

Sample Recognition Message on PraisePal Platform.
Sample Recognition Message on PraisePal Platform. Source: PraisePal

3) Reward: How can you reward users for performing the action?

The reward users receive has to be invariable to keep them wanting more. After giving recognition to their teammates, not only will the user feel good about not forgetting, but also feel like they contributed to making someone else’s day.

By having their recognition published publicly, other team members can engage with the message and add-on to it. This creates an invariable reward for the user who posted the recognition, as they are creating a ripple effect of engagement and morale-building with their message.

Users can also get rewarded when they receive recognition from others. Rewards come in the form of Company Rewards and Gift Cards, and the experience of ‘shopping’ for rewards with their points keeps users engaged to constantly check into the platform.

After all, online shopping sites are the best examples of invariable rewards: You will be hooked to keep scrolling and browsing the pages because you don’t know what items you will see next.

PraisePal Rewards Page with a list of redeemable gift cards. Source: PraisePal

How do you think this concept influences user behaviour?

When people give me recognition, it’ll be on the top of my mind and makes me feel inclined to give it back or pay it forward.

For instance, when you receive recognition from a teammate, you can thank them directly and even pay it forward and give it back to him. So in a sense, you’re also engaged on the platform. That’s how a habit of culture and recognition is built.

Successfully making it a habit

Now that we have all the aspects of the hooked formula in place, how do finally make the act of giving recognition a habit among team members?

I think to make it a habit, you need to figure out how to use the internal triggers so people would remember as opposed to having to wait for an email or notification. That’s when you form a habit.

In companies like e27 where they have 40 remote employees across Asia, recognition is now part of their strong company culture. Whenever a team member gives a good idea during a meeting, their peers will immediately send them a recognition right after the call.

What’s next after building good habits? Breaking bad ones.

After cracking the code to habit-forming products, you wrote a new book on breaking bad habits with products. Tell us about Indistractable.

Hooked was about forming good habits. Indistractable is about how we ensure we stay focused on what we’re going to do—whether it’s achieving a fitness goal or getting that big project done.

One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs have is that our main job is prioritisation. So privatisation and execution are everything. In Indistractible, it teaches you how to decide what you’re going to do and how you’re actually going to do it.


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