Corporate spending on wellness programs is surging, but motivating employees to use them continues to be a rather expensive struggle. There are lots of reasons for this, but a really unfortunate one is bad timing.
It's reasonable to assume that launching a wellness program during a time when employees are most interested in their health would correlate with higher engagement. Yet most wellness programs are promoted during open enrollment, which usually runs through November, the exact time that people care the least about wellness, and the most about getting fat on turkey.
October to December is the wellness dead zone
How do we know? Through the magic of Google. The terms people search for on Google are indicative of what theyre interested in at a given point in time. For example, if youre interested in eating healthier, youll search for healthy recipes. If you're interested in turkey, you'll search for "turkey."
To identify the best and worst times to launch a wellness program, we performed an analysis of Google search data. As it turns out, people dont really search for the word wellness, so we picked three related terms: healthy, fitness, and diet. Heres what the data looks like from November 2013 to January 20151:
The first thing worth noting is that the search patterns are freakishly consistent every year.
The second, and more important point: The lowest volume of searches for wellness related terms always happens October to December. Its the Wellness Dead Zone (indicated by the red zones in the graphic above).
Then, come January, when we all feel fat and bloated, theres a tremendous spike in interest, which slowly decreases every month, until we finally stuff ourselves full of turkey again.
I think we can all agree that turkey is the true villain here. Here is the search term turkey, compared with wellness, healthy, fitness, and diet.
The practical implications:
If youre considering timing for launching a wellness program, or promoting existing ones, here are some key things you may want to keep in mind:
Wellness programs that launch in January have tailwinds going for them. People are naturally interested. If its possible, launch programs in the first quarter of the year.
If you have wellness resources that you promoted during the Wellness Dead Zone (October to December), assume that you have a new audience thats tuned in. Promote them again.
Try not to use the word wellness. Words like fitness, diet, and healthy should better connect with people.
Vlad Gyster is the Founder and CEO of Airbo, a platform to discover and deliver engaging employee programs, communications, and trainings.
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