Nudges do work


Recently I have been incorporating the ‘Telomeres Manifesto’ as a nudge in organisations, to better manage stress and well-being.

Simply put, the nudge theory states that small changes in the “choice architecture” of people can lead to meaningful shifts in behaviour. During his time as Google’s SVP for People Operations, Laszlo Bock investigated and invested in understanding how behavioural science could improve the workforces’ health at work and home. He deployed an array of nudges that delivered steady progress with impressive metrics demonstrating how nudges motivated employees to make healthier and wiser lifestyle and dietary choices.

Whilst some opponents of nudge theory are concerned with it being a potentially manipulative practice, Laszlo noted “nudges are about influencing choice not dictating it” (WORK RULES, 2015).

From my perspective, a transparent alignment to an organisation’s purpose, value and behaviours (PVB) and an equally transparent dialogue about nudge theory ethics and its limitations, are conversations that need to be had before nudge development. Nudges do work.

As a nudge the ‘Telomeres Manifesto’ (below) serves not only as an aide-mémoire but can assist an organisation to design an environment where it can change attitudes and behaviour towards managing stress and well-being. It has sparked curiosity, encouraged exploration and offered a scientific insight to well-being. Clients have unanimously said it offers them a choice they weren’t aware of.

It is always a rewarding challenge working with organisations to promote and navigate well-being in the workplace. The fact that we can leverage behavioural science to nurture decision making is of benefit and the continuing application of scientific discovery means that the journey is evolving with evidence based data.

Try the Telomeres Manifesto as a nudge in your environment.

Neena Speding
Chartered MCIPD, BSc (Hons) HRM, PGCE
Emotional Intelligence Thought Leader & Collaborator
eight circles


Your cellular health is reflected in the wellbeing of your mind, body, and community.
Here are the elements of telomere maintenance that we believe to be the most crucial for a healthier world:

Mind Your Telomeres

  • Evaluate sources of persistent, intense stress. What can you change?
  • Transform a threat to a challenge appraisal.
  • Become more self- compassionate and compassionate to others.
  • Take up a restorative activity.
  • Practice thought awareness and mindful attention. Awareness opens doors to wellbeing.

Maintain Your Telomeres

  • Be active.
  • Develop a sleep ritual for more restorative and longer sleep.
  • Eat mindfully to reduce overeating and ride out cravings.
  • Choose telomere- healthy foods – whole foods, omega‑3s, skip the bacon.

Connect Your Telomeres

  • Make room for connection: Disconnect from screens for part of the day.
  • Cultivate a few good, close relationships.
  • Provide children quality attention and the right amount of “good stress.”
  • Cultivate your neighborhood social capital. Help strangers.
  • Seek green. Spend time in nature.
  • Mindful attention to other people allows connections to bloom. Attention is your gift to give.

Create Telomere Health in Your Community and the World

  • Improve prenatal care.
  • Protect children from violence and other traumas that damage telomeres.
  • Reduce inequality.
  • Clean up local and global toxins.
  • Improve food policies so that everyone has access to fresh, healthy, affordable food.

The future health of our society is being shaped right now, and we can measure part of that future in telomere base pairs.

The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer. (p.327)
Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel, 2017

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness’.
Richard H Thaler and Cass R Sunstein, 2008

WORK RULES! Insights from inside Google that will transform how you live and lead.
Laszlo Bock, 2015