In the daily routines of a typical work day, employees often forget to take care of themselves. This is where HR leaders can differentiate their strategies to fit their own workplace and help teams perform better than before. The key ingredient in creating a uniquely productive work environment is to focus on the health and well-being of every team member. One of the ways to prioritize employee health is to set Objectives & Key Result areas (OKR) that focus on employee wellness as a metric for HR success.
What is an OKR?
Objectives and Key Results, as the acronym suggests, is a format for goal-setting which helps you track what needs to be done, and how to go about achieving it. This method of goal-setting is seen in many Silicon Valley companies and start-ups, with tremendous levels of success.
The key questions to ask when creating an OKR are:
What is my goal (objective)?
How can I track my progress towards my goal (Key Results)?
The Benefits of OKRs
Setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) goals is useful in creating an achievable plan, while OKRs are often said to be aspirational goals that may be difficult to achieve, but will skyrocket your productivity and positive outcomes when done correctly. This may seem like a daunting proposition, but OKRs have their own set of benefits as well. Some of the most prominent benefits of OKRs are as follows.
Extended Goals - OKRs are best used to prioritize high-quality outcomes, instead of just ticking tasks off of a checklist. These extended goals help teams push their limits for better outcomes.
Agility - Shorter time frames lead to faster implementation of plans. Short term quarterly OKRs help reduce the risk of deviating from the objective.
Transparency - An OKR helps teams across the company work in a unified direction. Department-wise OKRs are usually visible to every team so as to provide insight into how each team member's work slots into the organization's overall growth.
Accountability - Each team is assigned and held accountable for the implementation and success of their OKR, and aligned with the company's goals. This helps boost engagement while keeping the company’s overall objectives in view.
Flexible Collaboration - Effective and flexible collaboration between multiple teams can be made possible using a shared OKR. This helps teams keep in sync with each other, and drives better outcomes.
Time-Saving - OKR-setting is usually a lightweight and simple approach. The OKR framework helps reduce the time spent on meetings and strategy. Having every team's OKR visible also helps everyone keep track of progress without wasting too much time on company-wide discussions.
Employee Wellness as an OKR
Now that we have an idea of what an OKR is and how it can benefit your organization, let us focus on how OKRs focused on employee health and well-being can help in certain situations.
Employee health is directly proportional to productivity - According to research conducted by the Population Health Management journal, an unhealthy diet makes employees 66% more likely to show symptoms of "Presenteeism", where employees show up to work but aren't productive due to other concerns keeping them distracted.
Good wellness plans can reduce absenteeism – Employees with healthy lifestyles such as maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and body mass index (BMI) have been shown to be less inclined to be absent from work due to illness or injury. A focus on wellness also reduces the risk of employees developing chronic health conditions.
Focusing on health improves employee trust - According to a survey by APA, only 43% of employees believe that their company cares about work-life balance and mental health. Making employee health a visible OKR can help build trust and lead to a more open and healthy work culture.
Example of a Wellness OKR
As an example, suppose you want to establish and improve your organization's employee wellness program, the OKR could look something like this:
Objective - Establish a World-Class Employee Wellness Program
Target date - Q4 (of current year)
Key Results -
- Contact and choose a wellness partner
- Conduct 2 mental health activities per month
- Conduct 2 physical health activities per month
- Educate employees about the company's employee wellness program
- Enrol at least 70% employees in the wellness program
Being an HR leader in today's corporate world is often a fulfilling but challenging task. However, using an OKR framework and focusing on important areas such as employee health and well-being can help your teams and the organization as a whole be ready for any challenges that the future may bring your way.