Experiment: Increasing Executive Self Identification Rates
Do changes to messaging to executives increase actions to complete self-identification (self-ID) questionnaires?
The Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO) is responsible for advancing employment equity in the federal public service. To fulfil this responsibility, the collection of EE data is critical to support in developing programs, policies and interventions that encourage employment equity across the public service. EE data is collected primarily through the completion of self-identification (self-ID) questionnaires by employees who identify with one or more of the EE groups. Not all executives (EXs) that may want to self-identify do so, due to the time and effort required to access and complete the form, or because they lack the motivation to do so. This trial tests changes in messaging (messager effect, social norms) to determine if they generate an increase in action to complete self-ID questionnaires. Targetting 67 departments/agencies in the federal public service, the trial showed that providing clear and authoritative instructions to Self-ID was more effective than focusing on social norms and benefits, social norms were more effective coming from the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) than from deputy heads, and a message from the CHRO was more effective than from Deputy Heads.
OCHRO developed an email campaign to encourage executives to complete the EE questionnaire and explain the importance of providing EE data. The campaign targeted 67 departments/agencies in the core public administration. Departments were randomly assigned to one of five groups, and the executives in each of those groups received different emails encouraging them to Self-ID. One group was a control group which received no communication interventions. The total sample included in the trial was 5,698.
The behavioural insights trial tested two key behavioural science principles: "messenger effects" — people respond differently to prompts based on who they are receiving it from, and "social norms" — individuals are more likely to take an action when they know that many of their peers are also taking that action. The emails sent came from either the Chief Human Resources Officer or the deputy head of the executive’s department. The text of the emails also differed, with about half of them providing authoritative instructions on self-identification and the other half emphasizing the social benefits of self-identification.
The main outcome was the clickthrough rates to access the self-ID questionnaire, as embedded in the messages sent to trial participants.
The trial showed that: - Providing clear and authoritative instructions to Self-ID was 2.2x as effective than focusing on social norms and benefits. - Social norms were more effective coming from the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) than from deputy heads. - A message from the CHRO was more effective than from Deputy Heads. 2.1x as many EXs acted before the deadline if they got an email from the CHRO, and 1.4x as many EXs took action after a message from the CHRO.
Sep 24, 2021
Local Branch and/or Unit:
Research and Experimentation Team, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat