The Behavioural Insights Team has been working with Jobcentre Plus in Loughton, Essex, to help get people back into work. We ran a six month randomised controlled trial to test the impact of three changes we made to the existing Jobcentre Plus system. The trial tested the difference between the existing process and three new changes. The changes were as follows:
1. Making sure every customer talks about getting back to work on their first day (not after 2 weeks) by cutting down and reorganising processes;
2. Introducing stretching commitment devices which focus on what the job seeker will do for the whole of the next fortnight. This replaces the present system where advisors ask if job seekers have done three job search activities in each of the previous two weeks;
3. Building psychological resilience and wellbeing for those who are still claiming after 8 weeks through ‘expressive writing’ and strengths identification.
The results are impressive: job seekers in the treatment group are 15-20% more likely than those in the control group to be off benefits 13 weeks after signing on (see graph below). Following these results, we are about to launch a much bigger trial across all of Essex, alongside even larger trials in the North East.