We’ve now entered time in the calendar that Wharton economist Katy Milkman calls “the granddaddy” of behavior-change catalysts: the turn of the new year.

Milkman, author of the book How to Change and co-founder of the University of Pennsylvania’s Behavior Change for Good Initiative, helped pioneer the concept of the “fresh start effect”: the idea that we’re better at making a change or taking on a new goal when we can tie our efforts to the start of a new chapter, whether that’s a holiday, a new season, or a more personal demarcation like a move or a new job.

In a 2021 study published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Milkman and her colleagues identified one real-life workplace application: Their research found that nudging people to contribute more to their retirement accounts was most effective when they had the option to start their increased contributions around a date that signified change, such as a birthday or the first day of spring.

Our question: How can you best leverage the fresh-start effect to spur employee behavior change?


What is your biggest challenge?

We can help, with Charter Pro research, reporting, and advisory support.

What's included:

  • Access to on-demand advisory from Charter team & experts
  • Data-driven research and insights
  • Actionable journalism, toolkits, playbooks
  • Private roundtable sessions