BI podcast transcription: Sandwell Council (2022)

Nudges for Social Good: Episode 10

(TC: 00:00:11) 

Moderator: Welcome everyone to the latest episode of the Nudges for Social Good podcast from the local government association. My name's Rhian Gladman and I manage the behavioural change programme here at the LGA. And as you know, if you've been listening to the podcast series for a while, the reason why we basically run the podcast is to de-mystify behaviour change and break it down into really practical bite-sized chunks that you can actually take away from the podcast and actually implement within your own council, for your own behavioural challenges locally.


So, the way we do that is by speaking to our interesting guests from local government who are actually doing this work at the coalface, working on these challenges everyday, and really, we want to share the lessons that they've learnt through the projects that they are running in real time. And today, I'm joined by Chitra Roberts from Sandwell Council. Hi there, Chitra, how are you?


(TC: 00:01:09) 

Chitra Roberts: I'm good, thank you.


(TC: 00:01:10) 

Moderator: Excellent stuff. Thanks for your time today. I think the first place to start really is, can you introduce yourself and your role at the council, please?


(TC: 00:01:19) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, sure. Thank you so much for having me on today, Rhian, so my name's Chitra Roberts and I work within a public health team and my role, or my job title, is behavioural insights and marketing project manager. So, we're a public health team that's based in Sandwell Council. So, essentially, my role is managing all the marketing comms that public health does, and also looking at how we use behavioural insights and the latest thinking from behavioural science to inform our service delivery as well.


(TC: 00:01:53) 

Moderator: Excellent. And so, can you tell me a bit more about how you got into the interesting world of behavioural change, behavioural insights and how you started doing this work?


(TC: 00:02:03) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, certainly. So, I worked in marketing, in comms, sort of, my entire career so I did a masters in marketing event work, started off working in the private sector in advertising. And then, moved into working within the third sector, and then within health. I joined Sandwell council coming up to about ten years ago now, and that role was what was then quite a popular process called social marketing. So, it was around, sort of, very similar to behavioural economics and behavioural science that essentially, it was using the processes that traditional marketing use, segmentation, targeting and applying them for a social purpose, a social good. But the goal within any, sort of, social marketing project was always going to be measured around a behavioural change and so, working within that role, the overlap between social marketing processes and this merging area of behavioural economics was really clear.


So, I, kind of, became interested in how behavioural science could really form what we did and help, and how we could use that as a way of not just understanding behaviour but also looking at how we could help shape behaviour within public health. So, yes, within that I've worked in various roles within public health, first off working within a mental health and well-being team, and then moved onto tobacco control. And then, in my current position which is working across the thematic areas within public health so really work within or across what we offer within public health. So, that's health protection, that could be health promotion, it could be around, you know, things like lifestyle changes so all your smoking, alcohol, sexual health. So, yes, been really fortunate to have had a really wide and vast experience working with all kinds of domains within public health, but within the sphere of looking at how we understand behaviour, and shape behaviour, and look at changing behaviour.


(TC: 00:04:34) 

Moderator: So, really interesting around bringing that marketing experience and background from a different sector into, you know, undertaking the behavioural change work for social good and impacts on public health locally. So, we've been supporting you at the LGA around one of your behavioural insights projects throughout Covid and that's what we're going to talk about today. So, the place to start is what was the original behaviour that you were looking to change through this project?


(TC: 00:05:02) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, sure. So, yes, at the start of the pandemic we, like all councils around the UK, were faced with the challenge on how to really reduce transmission of Covid within our local population. We know the behaviour of both individuals and groups is fundamental to reducing transmission. And, you know, we were seeing that despite the quantity of information guidance that was available, infection rates continued to rise rapidly. And, you know, restrictions and regulations both-, we see that locally and also nationally- do have some impact, but we could also see, with our close links, with our community sector and our residents, that our insight was telling us that people were feeling a certain level of confusion. They were unclear, they were fatigued by the information overload that was happening around Covid. And, you know, from a behavioural insights point of view, we understand that when people are feeling fatigued and overloaded, it can result in low motivation and thus have an impact on behaviour.


So, we started our discussions around what we could do based on that nugget of insight. About how we could really look at increasing self-efficacy around, at that time, personal protective behaviour. So, hand hygiene, social distancing, face-covering wearing. And we wanted to really, kind of, focus on our working-age population. So, we had that little nugget of where we wanted to start, and then the opportunity came from the LGA to apply for some funding around a behavioural science trial, which we obviously applied for and were successful in getting. But, you know, if anything, what this pandemic has taught us is that it doesn't stand still, and the fast-moving nature of what was happening meant that we needed to be agile in approach. Thus, by the time we had the funding in place and we'd got our specialist agency in place, the focus had really shifted to around vaccinations. It became very clear that, that was actually the behaviour we needed to focus on to make a measurable impact on transmission and in terms of protecting our communities.


So, we wanted to look at the working-age population and felt this was a group where we would begin to start seeing hesitancy, you know, it was very clear very early on that the older age groups or the older cohorts were more than willing to take up the vaccine. And we were able to predict that actually, you know, as we've found the different cohorts, there might be more of a degree of hesitancy. And so, you know, our target audience was very clear based on that. And also, you know, capitalising on the good links that we already had with workplaces so in terms of our Covid response work, had established very, very strong links with local businesses and so, it was pragmatically a good way of having a foothold with that audience segment.


(TC: 00:08:25) 

Moderator: So, I think that's a really important that you raised around, you know, the speed of events and the agility of the behaviour change approach and these tools can be used even when the situation change, the behaviour you thought you were looking to change was around that actually adhering to hands, face, space, and the Covid restrictions. And actually, it turned out as things moved along really quickly, it was about vaccine take-up and the target cohort is that working-age population. So, yes, that speed of response is a really important point. And I think for other councils listening in, that things change, that you think you're going with one behaviour you want to change but actually, it's then moved on. And can you say more about that, that, sort of, speed and agility of change of approach?


(TC: 00:09:11) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, I think that's, you know, been key throughout all of the work that we've done as a council around the pandemic. I think having that agility and that adaptability and being responsive has been key to, kind of, any successful outcomes we've had. And I think, you know, in terms of from a behavioural insights point of view, I think having the time to a certain extent to be agile was important. Or the ability to, kind of, understand what the specific behaviour change was that we wanted to focus on was really important for this project. And I think that's working, both with yourselves and the LGA, and also with the agency. All of us having that mindset that, actually, we need to be more responsive to what's happening or what the immediate behaviour changes we need to focus on really. So, I don't know if I answered your question.


(TC: 00:10:20) 

Moderator: No, that's spot on, that's spot on. It was just a really important point raised there that things do change, the behaviour changes, it moves on but you can still apply these approaches even in that situation as you've done so well. SO, you talked there and it's the working-age population so was your local data telling you that was a real hotspot around people not taking up the vaccine?


(TC: 00:10:44) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, I think so, you know, from what we were also doing in terms of our reading around the literature around vaccination uptake and some of the emerging literature around the Covid vaccine uptake was that there's this understanding that the risk or the perception of risk seems to increase with age. Because obviously, age is, you know, a significant risk factor for catching Covid, so the theory is that if you're offered the vaccine and you're of a certain age, and your life has been so curtailed, as we know for our older populations. Actually, there isn't really this, kind of, no-brainer around getting the jab. Whereas there would be, you know, well, more time because the vaccine wouldn't be offered to the younger cohorts until later in the year, a deliberation for that hesitancy to ferment really. And also, you know, the urgency around getting the vaccine was not going to be as keenly felt with our younger populations, our younger age groups. So, that's why, kind of, the working-age population is a big, big, big, massive population if you think about it. But we knew that would be where we would want to probably be doing a lot of work and we would need to be looking at utilising the behavioural insight levers that we could or nudges that we could around that.


(TC: 00:12:27) 

Moderator: So, how did you go about gathering insights to understand what was driving the behaviour or not in this cohort?


(TC: 00:12:36) 

Chitra Roberts: So, a couple of ways really. So, we have worked throughout this pandemic very, very closely with both our faith and our community sectors, and they've been invaluable partners in helping us with our response to the pandemic. And, from that, we were getting real-time insight and real-time feedback about vaccination and vaccination behaviours. As part of that, we had a Covid vaccination leader programme, which was a regular programme where we gave information about the vaccinations to nominated leaders. It was, kind of, a dialogue, where they would always feedback to us some of the challenges or the hesitancies, or the reasons for hesitancies. And, in parallel with that, we were working with The Behaviouralist, who are the specialist agency that have been onboard for this piece of work. They did a literature review around vaccination uptake and vaccination behaviours, looking at the behavioural insights and behavioural science literature around that. So, looking at, I guess, real-time-, I don't like to use the term, 'Anecdotal,' because I don't want to undermine that insight, because that's actually really, really, really essential insight. But also looking at the more formalised literature, marrying those two things to give us a really good understanding.


(TC: 00:14:05) 

Moderator: It's the qualitative, the qualitative as well as the quantitative?


(TC: 00:14:10) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, exactly. And it's not necessarily a formalised way of doing that necessarily, because we have to be pragmatic. There isn't always time to do a focus group, or there isn't always time to do it in that formalised way, but we were getting quite a lot of intelligence from our local communities. So, again, like, to capture that and to fuse that with the more traditional research that the agency's doing.


(TC: 00:14:38) 

Moderator: And in terms of getting that insight and that feedback from the employers who I assume had a huge role to play in this work?


(TC: 00:14:47) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, absolutely. So, you know, both from the community perspective of working-age adult population but, like you said, also our work that we were doing with businesses and understanding what their particular barriers were for their staffing groups. You know, that was absolutely instrumental in helping shape this.


(TC: 00:15:11) 

Moderator: And what were those barriers, what were those insights that this work showed really?


(TC: 00:15:16) 

Chitra Roberts: I think, yes, you know, with around the hesitancy, I think it's nothing that would surprise anybody or around who's working in this area. You know, people would have fears over fertility, long-term impacts of the vaccine, whether it had been rushed through, whether it had been endorsed by the right people. It was, kind of, a typical mix that you would run into around hesitancy but it was just useful to see that come through from our local population as well as be married with the behavioural science literature.


(TC: 00:16:12) 

Moderator: So, really good to get that local flavour anecdotal qualitative as well as the quantitative feedback but it was marrying with what you thought would come out, but good to get that, sort of, triangulation that was the case?


(TC: 00:16:27) 

Chitra Roberts: And, kind of, overlaid and all of that I think. So, we, kind of, had a good grasp of what the common barriers were for people in terms of I guess, not necessarily practical barriers, but those psychological barriers for people to get the vaccine. And the literature supported that. But what we were also able to tease out was actually what would work in terms of, kind of, behavioural nudges around those particular concerns. So, looking at where we might want to use social norming lever in terms of a message. Whether we wanted to use, kind of, trusted advocates or a trusted voice lever, so it was looking at where, it was taking the insight about, 'Okay, we understand these are the psychological barriers that people might have, if that's the right term to use, and this is maybe where the nudge might help with that particular barrier.'


(TC: 00:17:40) 

Moderator: So, as we aim to, sort of, de-mystify behavioural insights on the podcast so if you could explain to everyone what social norming is?


(TC: 00:17:49) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, so, you know, my understanding of social norming is around that as human beings, we are absolutely social creatures and we take our social cues from those around us. And actually, if we are told that other people like ourselves are taking part in a behaviour, we're far more likely to take up that behaviour.


(TC: 00:18:15) 

Moderator: Yes, that's spot on, my understanding as well. So, yes, really useful to just share that with people who might be new to this stuff as well. I think we need to really de-mystify these terms so that's really helpful. So, back to the employers, I'm really interested in this angle. So, we know, from behaviour change, the more you can see a benefit for you in a certain behaviour, the more likely you're encouraged, you know, you can see the win-win for yourself or a group of people. So, how did you encourage employers to be part of this work, how did you sell the benefits to them? Were they clear on the benefits? For other councils who are looking to engage their local employers, not just on this particular behaviour but on other behaviours, stuff around climate change, isn't there, that employers have, skills-growth jobs, all of that building back stuff as well. So, if you could speak a bit about that, that would be really helpful?


(TC: 00:19:11) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, of course. So, I think, you know, one of the key learnings for me from this, and, actually, it's a key learning for any bit of behavioural insights work or any piece of project, like you said, is attention, isn't it? So, what we've gone with, we've gone with a survey design experiment, but before we actually had that as the product, as such, it was quite hypothetical when we were talking about this type of work. You can try and explain it in a way that, you know, would helpfully encapsulate what we were trying to achieve but, essentially, people's attention span is short, isn't it? If they have no knowledge of behavioural science, or no understanding of behavioural insight, trying to explain what we were trying to do had some challenges, because there wasn't anything tangible we were able to show them. It was all very theoretical. So, when we actually had the design of the survey design, it became much more easier for people to go on.


So, we had, like, a test site that people could use and actually have that experiential quality to what we were trying to achieve. So it, kind of, then cemented in people's brains a lot more clearly what we wanted to do. So, I would say that, that was a challenge to begin with. A lot of behavioural science is quite theoretical, and it's really only through using examples or showing how it works in practice that it becomes a bit more alive for people. Like you said, once we had the product, as such, to show people, it was a lot easier to explain. Describing it as a behaviour change project, people might feel, you know. Even using the word, 'behaviour' can be, maybe, sometimes contentious or sometimes concerning for people. The idea that, you know, and talking about randomized control trials and one group having an intervention and another group not having an intervention, what that might mean in terms of implication for the group that did or didn't receive the intervention. You know, all those things took time to explain and I don't always think we were successful in penetrating that understanding. But like I said, once we had the product, it was just a lot easier to get by.


(TC: 00:21:44) 

Moderator: So, sort of, having something tangible to bring it to life and cut through as we were saying on the de-mystifying point again, isn't it?


(TC: 00:21:47) 

Chitra Roberts: Yes, yes.


(TC: 00:21:51) 

Moderator: And actually, this is what we're trying to do, that could be the engagement across. And also, building on as you said, those already strengthened links throughout the pandemic between public health and local employers was a really important point.


(TC: 00:22:05) 

Chitra Roberts: And also, they're really busy as, you know, you can imagine, especially during the last year. Businesses were dealing with so much, your local businesses are dealing with so many competing, kind of, demands with regards to Covid. But again, trying to cut through the noise of what they were getting from us, the council, what they were getting from other, you know, stakeholders. That became very important about how we could, kind of, yes, I guess cut through that noise. And also, kind of, sell the value of this project.


(TC: 00:22:45) 

Moderator: So, to recap, you got your behavioural challenges increasing vaccine uptake, you've got your target cohort, it's working-age population across the council area. You've then got your desktop research from the supplier around, you know, vaccine take-up and the ways BI can be used for that. But then, there's also, you know, you've had feedback from both working-age adults in the community through the faith and community partners as well. As well as through, you know, your interactions with local employers, and feedback and engagement from them. The insights that it raised for you, sort of, triangulates with what you thought but now, you know locally that's the case as well. And, you know, you've encouraged buy-in from local buyers by, 'Here is the prototype, this is what we want to do,' and that's that tangible nature starting to bring it to life. So, what was the intervention that you have chosen?


(TC: 00:23:42) 

Chitra: So, we conducted two randomised control trials, which we implemented between July 2021 and November 2021. And, these RCTs were administered through an online survey platform. So participants were invited to take part in a survey. They were unaware that they were in an experiment. And, the survey began by asking, you know, just a few demographic questions and a screening question. The screening question was, 'Have you had the Covid vaccine or not?' And so, based on their response they were assigned to either trial one or trial two. So, if they had not received the vaccine they were put in trial one. If they had received the vaccine or if they were scheduled to get the vaccine they were put in trial two. So, trial one, which was our people who hadn't had the vaccine as yet. We hypothesised that we could encourage vaccinations by addressing the reasons why people say they didn't want to get vaccinated. So, participants were first asked to rank, sorry, to list and rank the main reasons for not getting their Covid vaccine. And, that was done through an interactive online, kind of, interface. And so, if participants were randomised to the treatment group, they were then shown a behaviourally framed message that addressed their highest ranking concern. Trial two was designed under the assumption that vaccine advocacy supports the acceptance and uptake of the vaccine. So, participants that declared themselves vaccinated were then asked if they would encourage others to get their vaccine. So, kind of, this helped us to understand their willingness to become vaccine advocates. And, also we asked them to specify their own reasons for getting the vaccine. And, if randomised to the treatment group, they were shown a behaviourally framed message aimed at encouraging them to become vaccine advocates. So, you know, speaking to their family or friends or work colleagues about the benefits of taking the vaccine.


(TC: 00:25:45) 

Moderator: So, I guess, in summary, it's that first trial, it's those that are unvaccinated. You're asking them to, you know, give the reason as to why they've chosen to take that path and then, once they've selected that reason, they then get the treatment, as you say, or the nudge, just to the listeners to clarify that, the behavioural intervention that they then see from there, all online. And then there's the second group, who are vaccinated. You're wanting to ask them would they be an advocate for the vaccine, and then they get their treatment around their response to that question. Is that right?


(TC: 00:26:19) 

Chitra: Correct. That's right, yes.


(TC: 00:26:21) 

Moderator: So, you've run those two interventions and what were the results?


(TC: 00:26:24) 

Chitra: Okay. So, for the first one we did see a small increase, so 9% increase, in terms of people, where the intervention had an impact. However, you know, to caveat that, we had a very low sample size in this trial. The other thing that we were working with at that point, mirroring what was going on nationally, is that most people had had their Covid-19 vaccines. So, 90% of people that took part in the survey had already had their vaccine, which is great from a public health point of view, but it, kind of, is reflected in the small numbers we got of people that hadn't had their vaccine, that were responding to the survey. It's encouraging because, actually, what it tells us is that this might be a good idea to find ways of testing this intervention with a larger number of participants in the future, to give us a bit more of a bigger number around this. So, that's really promising, in terms of further work that we've been looking to do. The second trial, which was the people who had had their vaccine. Again, it was a fairly small effect size, in terms of the behavioural intervention. However, a very high share of the survey participants stated that they are willing to become vaccine advocates and encourage their friends, families to take the vaccine. So, 79% of participants answered, 'Yes, definitely,' when asked if they were willing to be advocates. So, it is again useful to explore ways of translating this, kind of, people's intention into the actual advocacy behaviour.


(TC: 00:28:16) 

Moderator: Yes. I think that's a really important point Chitra around actually sometimes the small numbers of people we are working with in these trials, unlike maybe bigger national trials. Some of the ones, for example some that DWP will run, huge ones around tax collection etcetera. You know, we are smaller units of local government working with smaller groups of people to try and influence behaviour. And, I think it's, sort of, trialling this stuff, we've seen a bit of a move in a positive direction. Now let's try and can we, you know, join up with our neighbours and try and scale this up to a bigger population to test that further.


(TC: 00:28:53) 

Chitra: Absolutely, yes. I think the, kind of, that mentality of testing these ideas and, you know. Like you said, we don't necessarily have those large numbers, but they're a good, kind of, you know, opportunity to test our theories to then scale up. And, I think this is certainly what this trial has shown us is that actually scaling up would benefit or give some more interesting insights.


(TC: 00:29:21) 

Moderator: So, they're the, sort of, numerical results. What's the wider impact been?


(TC: 00:29:26) 

Chitra: So, I think, in terms of, kind of, wider impact, I think getting the insight from participants that weren't vaccinated, actually understanding what their main concerns were around the vaccine. And, participants reported concerns around the vaccine, for example, being rushed, the potential side effects, concerns regarding the ineffectiveness of the vaccine and, kind of, risk perception of Covid to them individually. And, these are obviously really useful findings for us as a council, in terms of how we develop our communications and targeting those specific concerns in, kind of, future vaccination campaigns that we do. And, I think also it's worth noting that the-, there wasn't, kind of, a correlation between having one concern and then another concern. These were all quite individual, you know, concerns, if that makes sense. So, I think, again, it comes back to this, kind of, not having a one size fits all approach to when we're addressing those concerns and really tailoring, addressing those very specific concerns in a very specific manner. I think the vaccine advocacy insight is also really useful. So again, it, kind of, speaks to this gap between intention and behaviour or behaviour-intention gap. You know, this idea that the willingness is there, and, kind of, for the people who have been vaccinated to, you know, promote the vaccine to friends and family. It's that, kind of, you know, how do we translate that into behaviour. And, I think that's a really interesting topic to, kind of, to examine and to look at and to see what we can do around that and maybe that's also with other public health issues or public health areas, we might want to look at this advocacy model and look at how people's, you know-, so, if people are taking up a particularly pro social behaviour, is there a way that we can, again mobilise that willingness to act as an influencer or act as an advocate for that behaviour. So, I think that's got some really interesting, kind of, impacts and further work that we do or, like, across the thematic areas that we work within in public health.


(TC: 00:32:05) 

Moderator: So, I guess, yes, that first point around actually being more specific in our communications around addressing concerns, rather than addressing all the concerns, you know, a lot of information. Is it fair to say that what you've learnt is to actually be, you know, pick one message and be really specific and really clear in communicating that message? Is that coming through?


(TC: 00:32:30) 

Chitra: Yes, I think so. And, I think repetition of that as well. So, I think that it's not just about the, you know, giving people too much information, but I think it's the constant repetition of reassurance that the vaccine hasn't been rushed. Like, I don't think you can say that enough times, you know, that it's effective. Again, I don't think you can say that enough times and I think it's that, sort of, real, kind of, drip feed approach, of consistently and constantly understanding what those concerns are and giving people, almost a script with which it can be embedded in people, within people's perceptions around that.


So, I think it's all the stuff around social norming around vaccination uptake is really important and, kind of, you know, showing that lots of people are having it and all the rest of it is really important. But, I actually think that when it's a new behaviour like a Covid-, or we're asking people to take part in a new behaviour, actually there is probably an element of awareness-raising that, not just awareness-raising, but also, kind of, addressing those key concerns that people might have. And, you know, sometimes we may feel that people have moved on or they do know this stuff, or whatever and actually I think early-, not early adoption of behaviour. But, I think there's something around when a behaviour is relatively new that going back to basics constantly is not going to be a bad thing.


(TC: 00:33:58) 

Moderator: And, I guess, the beauty of this trial and this project isn't it, is that actually where people-, because, it's an online platform, you can express what your concern is. For example the vaccine was rushed, and then once you've clicked that the treatment actually is a set of information to allay your concern around that. So, it's very targeted to your fear, isn't it, or the barrier to the behaviour and that's the, sort of, interactive nature of it that I think will address that concern that the individual specifically has raised, rather than a big long list of things that we communicate out.


(TC: 00:34:34) 

Chitra: Yes. And, also what I think we tried to do with the nudges themselves, the behavioural-based nudges, is we tried to use, kind of, you know, our understanding of the behavioural science literature with regards to that specific concern. So, for something like, if your concern was around fertility, we, kind of, made the decision to use trusted voices. So, having GPs or midwives stating that it was safe for you and baby, or, you know, for mother and baby to have the vaccine. And, equally, if it was something around, you know, kind of, the impact it has, whether you didn't believe that it had an impact on your community as a whole, having trusted community member voices talking about that as a create-, we used, I guess, the levers of behavioural insights to fuse the messages, if that makes sense. So, you know, whether that's social norming, or whether that might be a bit more of a fear-based messaging, or whether that would be around knowing when statistics were going to be useful to be used, and when they maybe wouldn't be of use. And again, that might be something that we would want to explore further. People rank their concerns, but actually would-, so, if somebody was putting that they felt that the vaccine has been rushed, would social norming work within that one or would you want to have a trusted voice, or would you want to have another, kind of, like-, would you be wanting to use another heuristic to infuse within that nudge? So, would you use another bit of area of insight? So, actually the actual nudge itself could be tailored, if that makes sense.


(TC: 00:36:27) 

Moderator: And speaking of next steps, that speaks beautifully to my next question. So, what are the next steps for this work and for these findings?


(TC: 00:36:36) 

Chitra: So, I guess, we're really keen to infuse all that knowledge that we got from this project into, kind of, how we communicate and shaping the communications that we do around vaccination uptake. I think that we already have a really strong Community Champions program that we run and have been running for all of last year and looking perhaps maybe at, is there a way of expanding that and also expanding that to maybe more individual based, kind of, and a more simple answer, rather than, you know, we have a program that people can come on and do the training but, people are stating that they want to be advocates. Is there an easier of doing that, you know, through very simple apps or smaller apps or an online, kind of, option. And, I think, also looking at how we can take these results and apply them to other parts of what we do within public health. So, looking at other topic areas that we might want to look at using, kind of, these behavioural based nudges and experiment with that again when we understand what people's concerns are and then giving them automatically a response to those concerns. Is there a way that we could build that into, kind of, our online offer? So, if somebody's coming on around, you know, a topic like smoking cessation, actually understanding what their specific barrier is to quitting, we can then give a behavioural based nudge around that and seeing if that would be effective.


(TC: 00:38:15) 

Moderator: And, I guess, a lot of this project was with local employers. So, are there any plans to work more with employers on this type of stuff?


(TC: 00:38:24) 

Chitra: Yes, absolutely. I mean, we have really good working relationships with our local businesses and local employers. And, we ourselves are one of the biggest employers within Sandwell. So, yes absolutely. You know, I think it's that sustaining and maintaining that relationship and maintaining the, kind of, the momentum around specifically the behavioural science work will be really important.


(TC: 00:38:50) 

Moderator: So, for those councillors and officers listening to the podcast from councils across the country who are thinking, 'I want to do some similar works, some works around encouraging vaccine uptake locally,' what are your top three tips for anyone starting out on this journey?


(TC: 00:39:07) 

Chitra: I guess, my tips would probably be, not just, kind of, vaccine work, or using behavioural science for vaccine uptake, but just generally in terms of behavioural science work. We had a really good supplier on board, so The Behaviouralist were the agency that we worked with on this. I think that's key to it, having the right organisation to work in partnership with who have the deeper knowledge and understanding of these areas is really beneficial, and we found that to be really beneficial. Having a team that you can work, kind of, in collaboration with, it was definitely, kind of, like a very true partnership way of working. I think that's really, really important. I think that also having a dedicated resource within a council, within an organisation. So, you know, in this case, it was me that was-, I have a background in behavioural science and implementing behavioural science within public health, and so I had a really good grasp and understanding of the behavioural science side of things, but also I obviously work within the council, I work within public health, so I can fuse those two things together. And, not just that, but on a practical level, kind of, driving the project forward, making sure that we, you know, were meeting with who we needed to meet, you know, understanding the kind of landscape locally and then translating how we did the behavioural science bit I think is really useful. So, I'd say definitely make sure you've got somebody in that role who's going to be able to, you know, going to take the project forward, who has a good understanding of both behavioural science and how local government operates.


And then, certainly for us, you know, for this particular project is about being agile because at the start we were looking at personal protective behaviours as the behaviour that we wanted to change. And, you know, obviously not all topics are going to change so drastically as, kind of, the pandemic, but I think there's something about having an agile approach, especially at the early stages of a project. Like, you might have an idea of what behaviour you want to influence, but your insight and your research might throw up some other really interesting nuggets that you might want to explore. And it's that-, I guess, having the ability to not be too prescriptive at the beginning about what your target audience is and what your behaviour is. So, kind of, taking an agile mind set certainly at the beginning.


(TC: 00:41:34) 

Moderator: Chitra, thank you so much for sharing your fantastic work with us on the podcast. We really do appreciate your time and, yes, you're welcome back any time once you've done some more work in this space. Please do come back and tell us more about the further work you've been doing around behavioural insights.


(TC: 00:41:50) 

Chitra: Wonderful. Thank you very much.


(TC: 00:41:53) 

Moderator: So, if you'd like to learn more about the behavioural insights projects that you can try out in your council, please do visit our website at and search for 'behavioural insights'. You'll find there a host of other nudges for social good that you can learn from and use in your council. And, thank you for listening and please do share this podcast with your friends and colleagues and start to spread the word around behavioural insights in local government. We'll speak to you next time.