What is OBM? And Who Should Care?

Thanksgiving’s end signifies the beginning of the holiday hustle, four weeks of work until the next opportunity to take a vacation. As you mentally prepare for the week ahead, consider this: Are your employees energized by the idea of returning to work? Or are they already counting the days until the next holiday break? No matter which camp your employees fall into (no judgement from us), why might they be more or less motivated to return to the workplace? The question appears simple, yet its answer is rooted in something much more complex. 

Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) is a practice that helps companies improve individual and group performance using behavior-analytic principles. Simply speaking, OBM modifies the behavior of people in the workplace for optimal, sustainable, positive change. This methodology allows behavior analysts (that’s us) to geek-out on what we do best, defining and executing research-based strategies to improve systems at the individual, team, and organizational level. It is tempting to answer the above question by thinking, ‘My team has the best job and surely can’t wait to get back to work!’ Or, conversely, ‘I think my employees are dreading their return to our soul-sucking black hole of an office.’ Answers like these do not increase knowledge about individual motivations, job satisfaction or personal values and, therefore, sustainable improvements cannot be achieved. Employee satisfaction and performance directly affect organizational performance. This is the value of OBM. 

A subcategory of  behavior analysis and an evidence-based applied science in its own right, OBM is based on determinism, which means John from accounting isn’t hostilely yelling at his team because he’s stressed out about meeting his end-of-year financial quotas. It’s more likely that, when he yells at his team, they dig deeper in the numbers, improve the frequency of their work tasks and help John meet his goals quickly. When this occurs, John’s hostile behavior is reinforced and he is more likely to behave the same way in the future under the same conditions (i.e., when he needs his team to produce rapid results). This is a small, simple and common example of why extensive knowledge on reinforcement, punishment and other principles of behavior are critical to understanding the reasons for workplace behaviors and for modifying them as needed to produce optimal success. 

W3RKWELL incorporates our knowledge of behavior with data-based decision-making to improve employee performance, retention and satisfaction while training leadership to achieve measurable, realistic goals. By developing and implementing our two integration (also known as “onboarding”) systems, W3RKWELL helps companies invest in each employee prior to their first day and throughout the integration time frame (6 months) so that the employees and the company thrive, together. 

Imagine the last time you interviewed candidates. You combed through resumes and carved hours out of a packed schedule to adequately gain enough information to ensure the right person is hired. Time consuming. You know the opportunity cost associated with interviews—less of your core responsibilities are completed. After negotiations and new-employee paperwork is completed, a financially-hefty training marathon begins. How do you ensure a return on your investment? How do you avoid your new hire becoming part of the 33 percent of employees who look for a new job within six months? 

According to the Aberdeen group, employees are 69 percent more likely to stay at a company longer than three years if they experience well-structured onboarding. Proactively seeking assessments and structuring systems prior to hiring saves companies the high costs associated with employee turnover, ranging between 100 and 300 percent of the replaced employee’s salary (Ferrazzi, 2015).

Aside from revenue, how do you wish to effectively spend one of your most valuable resources—time? With heightened stress, task overload, and long working hours, there has never been a better time to invest in your employees. Health-centric cultures aren’t just about insurance costs, burnout reduction, loss of productivity with disengaged employees (those are good too), ensuring employees are healthy and happy at work allows industry leaders to join the front lines of a wellbeing movement that is great for business and its people. W3RKWELL helps early adopters in this movement set strategic, achievable organizational goals while increasing value-added time for leadership and their employees.

For more information on our services and mission, visit our services page or contact us at sayhello@w3rkwell.com.


Barbara R. Bucklin , Alicia M. Alvero , Alyce M. Dickinson , John Austin & Austin K. Jackson (2000) Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 20:2, 27-75, DOI: 10.1300/ J075v20n02_03


Keith Ferrazzi. (2015). Technology Can Save Onboarding from Itself. HBR

Gianna Biscontini