Reimagining Help Guide: Celebrating success

Why is celebrating success important? Organisations that focus on recognising and finding ways to celebrate people’s progress and successes (rather than focusing on what is not going well) will reinforce and encourage behaviour change.

Human behaviours (whether they involve trying new behaviours, maintaining existing ones or giving up unwanted ones) are strongly influenced by incentives and rewards. Incentives drive behaviour by making people aware of the prospect of a reward for their behaviour. Rewards drive behaviour when the behaviour is reliably followed by a positive experience (e.g. a feeling of satisfaction, money, praise etc). Each person has their own set of things that will motivate them, and if organisations can tailor rewards and incentives to what each person cares about, they will be more effective.

Rewards and incentives could be:

  1. Intrinsic (internal to the person): Setting and achieving meaningful goals (see Working on what matters) will help people to feel a sense of individual achievement (e.g. satisfaction) and positive emotions (e.g. pride) which will reinforce behaviour change. Ensuring that environments in which help is offered are welcoming and pleasant can also help people feel valued and want to engage with services (see Enabling environments).
  2. Material: These might take the form of money (e.g. cash or vouchers) or other resources (e.g. access to services such as gyms) and can have a powerful influence on behaviour. Although the provision of material rewards has been criticised as being at odds with the ethos of public sector services and incurring additional cost, the evidence is that programmes containing such incentives are successful at supporting change and can be cost-effective. Schemes devised in partnership with community businesses can bring benefits to both individuals and communities.
  3. Social: Some of the simplest and most powerful rewards for behaviour cost nothing and can be engineered into Social connections in which peers and professionals recognise and praise the effort or achievement of others. Services can also support people to elicit effective social rewards from others in their life (e.g. friends and family) rather than simply expecting this to happen.

Celebrating success:

  • Increases motivation for behaviour change by positive reinforcement. Feeling good about achieving a goal (i.e. intrinsic reward), receiving praise for one's efforts (i.e. social reward) and being rewarded financially (i.e. material reward) all make the behaviour more likely to happen again.
  • Increases opportunity by overcoming barriers - for example, material rewards such as supermarket vouchers for attending nutrition classes can improve financial barriers to healthy eating behaviour.
  • Increases capability through people learning about what works in changing their behaviour. For example, a person may learn that without social reinforcement, they personally are unlikely to feel motivated to work on their goal.

  • Linking health behaviours such as step count to material incentives/rewards that a person is genuinely interested in - for example, earning points that can be converted into a charity donation or voucher to spend in local shops (Better points)
  • Social recognition of health or other behaviours through a status symbol - for example, different coloured cards depending on how many times a person has donated blood or a t-shirt design that differs based on how many runs someone has achieved.
  • Feedback from practitioners as people work towards or reach certain goals, where they are recognised for their efforts and successes.

Using the information above, start to brainstorm ideas to try out in your organisation or community. Think about how to co-design ideas with other practitioners and people in the local community who could benefit from Good Help. Use the map below to help you test and develop your ideas.

A guide to refining and testing your ideas against the evidence and common pitfalls

Explore the final Good Help characteristic

Managing setbacks