What are HR SMART goals?
A goal is an objective you impose on yourself and an indicator of success once you’ve achieved that result. The SMART goal technique is a more sophisticated process of aiming for a target, and the acronym stands for the following characteristics:
- Specific - make your goal specific and narrow down the details: the who, what, where, when, and why of what you want to achieve. You can be ambitious but between some realistic limits.
- Measurable - establish clear criteria to show if you’re making progress and track success. Reevaluate when necessary.
- Achievable - make sure the goal is reasonable, considering your resources and the available time span.
- Relevant - the purpose of the goal should align with the long-term objectives and values of the department and the organization as a whole.
- Time-Bound - set a realistic end date to prioritize the goal and motivate the people working on it.
HR is a complex field where people and emotions are involved, which means not everything is predictable. There are too many factors to be taken into consideration, so setting SMART goals can be of great help to HR practitioners. It’s the key to success if you want to have a realistic timeline, a long-term perspective, and fast inspiration to generate results that will show that HR supports the development and growth of the company.
Why should you implement HR SMART goals?
Fancy goals are often vague and can lead to frustration if not achieved in the imposed time frame. Setting a realistic goal can help visualize the trajectory daily and build motivation and engagement. So here is why you should consider using HR SMART goals:
Better focus and higher performance: HR professionals find it easier to prioritize and track progress when setting clear goals. SMART goals will offer a purpose, a fuel to improve daily. The act of setting goals will generate a higher level of performance and will enhance their focusing skills.
Builds a culture of accountability: when you start setting goals, both as a team and as individual members, you implicitly create an environment where everyone knows the target and can monitor how their work is going. If issues occur, such as a missed deadline, it’s easier to discuss them and find solutions to solve them.
Advertising your result to upper management: SMART goals will get everyone to visualize what success looks like in numbers, which is an important part of your organization’s leadership. By showing them the continuous progress, you will present the value and impact HR brings to the table.
12 HR SMART goals examples
When you feel ready to set the SMART goals that your organization needs, you can use these examples below:
1. Remodel the organization’s core values
Your company's core values are important, but only if they drive motivation, engagement, and a higher retention level. It’s not enough to just place them on a big wall, visible to everyone.
According to Gallup analytics, only 27% of employees strongly agree they believe in their company's values. A relatively low percentage, right? Missing out on this important aspect will cost you attracting top talent and keeping the one you already gained. Talented people want to work in organizations where the culture and the core values are not just words.
So make it a point to focus on your organization’s values.
SMART Goal example: Design a list of 3 to 5 core values your employees relate to in a maximum of one month.
- Specific - Integrate these 3 to 5 organizational values into the communication across the company so that the employees can feel a positive atmosphere around the workplace.
- Measurable - The list itself should be no longer than five core values.
- Achievable - Middle and higher management will help HR disseminate the list of organizational values throughout the company.
- Relevant - To make the majority of employees feel in sync with the company’s values.
- Time Bound - Design the list in a maximum of one month.
Core values are the DNA of every successful business and help employees make better decisions. They are the tools that remove bottlenecks and shape better behaviors. When faced with various options, your peers will understand which one is the one that is aligned with the principles of the business. Having clear values for your employees is a smart decision you can make that will reflect a better system of operating your business in a competitive world.
2. Reduce time on administrative tasks
We cannot just eliminate administrative tasks; it’s something that needs to be done. But the question is, who should do them and how much time should be dedicated in this direction?
Spending less time on administrative tasks as an HR professional or HR manager should be a goal to consider as soon as possible.
Streamline your processes with a digital tool meant to help you expedite repetitive tasks.
SMART Goal example: Find the right tool for your organization to help reduce time spent on administrative tasks in 2 months.
- Specific - Administrative work will be more efficient with software that helps centralize data all in one place, from personal information to policies, procedures, and time off.
- Measurable - Target a 30% decrease in time spent on administrative tasks.
- Achievable - The chosen software will allow you to see accurate reports on how much time you are saving.
- Relevant - Less time spent on repetitive tasks equals more time spent on strategic matters and higher productivity.
- Time Bound - Find the right tool for your organization in a maximum of 2 months.
In the digital HR transformation era, investing in tools that will help you get more done in less time will make you more effective and your employees more satisfied. You will encounter fewer errors, boost collaboration, and align your business towards success with such HR goals.
3. Emphasize employee feedback
Giving feedback is essential; you are already aware of that. But it’s not good enough to give feedback to employees; you have to provide it in a positive and constructive manner to have the desired effects.
Human resource managers can use SMART goals to offer inspirational feedback to employees. Positive affirmations and reinforcements can raise job satisfaction and engagement, all these generating better productivity levels.
SMART Goal example: Offer positive feedback in weekly or monthly meetings.
- Specific - Every manager should offer constructive feedback at least once a month.
- Measurable - Use software solutions to keep track of the feedback offered.
- Achievable - Every manager will have a decent number of employees in subordination so that the monthly meetings can be achieved.
- Relevant - Employees should feel their work is essential and contributes to the organization as a whole and its success.
- Time Bound - Decide on a recurrent period for feedback meetings.
Learning how to give effective employee feedback will take some time if you’re a new manager. You can ask experienced leaders examples of questions to ask in various situations to give you the insights to make better decisions or how to provide positive remarks to acknowledge good work.
Tip: A good trick for handling one-to-one feedback meetings is to have a recurring agenda item in the calendar.
4. Cultivate employee performance
By setting short-term SMART goals, you can avoid procrastination and the loss of motivation. It’s easier to keep track of small projects or big ones, but divided into small parts, than setting a goal over a long period of time.
Making sure your employees are constantly learning new skills is also a goal to be considered. If they are constantly growing, there is a higher chance they will stay with your company.
SMART Goal example: Look for courses for professional development for your team and offer them options over a maximum of one month.
- Specific - Increase the employees’ professional development by scheduling quarterly courses and training in areas like communication, negotiation, and time management skills.
- Measurable - Surveys completed after the courses will reveal the success of this endeavor.
- Achievable - The approved budget is used by HR to research good courses and training.
- Relevant - Improving your employees’ considerable skills will only add value to the organization.
- Time Bound - HR has one month for research.
If you want to know what courses you should recommend to your peers, it’s always good to have a performance review upfront, evaluate it, and decide based on the results. You get on the topics most relevant for the success of your business. Then, you prioritize various courses for your peers. And, in case you’re conducting a performance review soon, we have 100 examples of appraisal phrases to help you get the job done.
5. Automate at least one process
You should consider automation because it’s the key to freeing up a lot of time - time spent on repetitive tasks. You can focus on more strategic matters by automating some of your HR processes.
You can start by automating leave management, a very sensitive topic in every organization.
With LeaveBoard, the tiresome task of managing absences and time off will vanish. We offer accessible software for both managers and employees.
You can create a separate attendance calendar for each team; know who is off, when, and how long. By using our software, you will gain business agility, productivity, and effectiveness.
SMART Goal example: Look for the perfect software for your organization to automate leave management in the next three months.
- Specific - Leave management will be more straightforward for managers and employees.
- Measurable - Target a 60% decrease in time spent handling manual leave management requests and issues.
- Achievable - The leave management software will allow you to improve all processes concerning this area.
- Relevant - Better overview and management of worked hours and absences.
- Time Bound - Take up to a maximum of three months to select the right software and get a demo of it.
At LeaveBoard, we have been focused on building better leave management to serve small and mid-sized businesses. We have listened to thousands of HR managers and believe we have a solution that suits their needs in an efficient, productive, and collaborative way. Check it out.
6. Enhance staff retention
High turnover rates are costly in 2023, and not only this, but it’s also a factor that demotivates your employees and lowers their productivity.
HR managers must set SMART goals to keep top talent; of course, they must be relevant and timely. Improving employee experience can be an idea or offering benefits in the well-being area.
SMART Goal example: In the following weekly meeting, ask for feedback from employees on how they see an improvement in employee experience.
- Specific - Reduce recruitment costs by concentrating on how to keep present employees.
- Measurable - Target a 20% cost reduction for the following yearly report.
- Achievable - The percentage is reasonable, and the information received from the employees will help show the areas you should focus on.
- Relevant - Better staff retention equals more saved money.
- Time Bound - Feedback from employees to be asked for in the next meeting(weekly or monthly).
HR professionals are constantly looking at such HR KPIs. They are super relevant to the overall success of any business. High-retention rates mean that the company can keep its best people through a practical set of strategies.
7. Encourage staff collaboration
HR professionals are also responsible for improving collaboration between managers and their teams. Using SMART goals in this area is very useful. Some of them should include the existence of regular conversations, an online tool for communication, and monthly feedback sessions.
SMART Goal example: Organize monthly informal gatherings with the team for better bonding.
- Specific - Every team manager/team leader has to hold one informal meeting/month with their team, either in the workplace area or outside.
- Measurable - HR should keep track of these monthly meetings.
- Achievable - The budget is either from the company or not. The meetings should be announced 2 weeks ahead, so the employees can make time to attend.
- Relevant - A monthly informal gathering will improve the vibe and collaboration of every team.
- Time Bound - One informal meeting per month/for each team.
Business partners and team managers know how important collaboration among co-workers is. Collaboration increases employee engagement, boosts peer productivity, stimulates creativity, and enhances employee well-being.
8. Rethink employee benefits
Over the course of the pandemic, employees’ aspirations regarding benefits have changed. They want more flexibility, especially if they have children that do school virtually.
You will need to reevaluate your benefits package and ensure it’s consistent with current times.
SMART Goal example: Create a survey to find out what new benefits your employees want, and ask for responses in a week.
- Specific - Use data from the survey to see if your current benefits package is what your employees need and want.
- Measurable - Survey reports will show how satisfied your employees are with the current benefits.
- Achievable - Use a digitized solution for conducting the survey and nominate the HR professionals capable of analyzing the results.
- Relevant - The suitable benefits package attracts and retains top employees.
- Time Bound - One week for conducting the survey.
HR professionals will always consider various employee benefits over their base salaries, such as medical insurance, gym access, or access to professional development so that their employer brand gets boosted, the retention increased, and your people more motivated.
9. Improve the onboarding process
A great onboarding process can have many benefits for the employees and the organization, such as better performance, higher productivity, or enhanced engagement.
Using SMART goals for improving your onboarding process can go a long way. If you feel your onboarding process can improve, start working on it immediately.
SMART Goal example: Create a very small team and task them to improve onboarding over the course of 2 months.
- Specific - Name a small team in charge of this task who will have to implement software to help with the onboarding process.
- Measurable - Target of 20% decrease in the time it takes for HR to get new employees ready and productive in their respective teams.
- Achievable - The team will work with the approved budget.
- Relevant - Reducing the time spent on onboarding means fewer costs and better productivity.
- Time Bound - Two-month term for finding the right solution for your organization.
Many times, businesses fail with employee onboarding. How many times have you heard stories like the new hire were at the reception, and there was no desk for them? Therefore, implementing smart onboarding goals is key. In case you’re interested to know more, we provide eight tips to onboard new employees successfully.
10. Enhance employee engagement
Employee engagement is crucial for the overall work atmosphere and your business's success.
When every single one of your employees feels valued and is in sync with your company’s values, mission and vision, basically, you’ve succeeded. Make sure this is the case in your organization.
SMART Goal example: Design an employee engagement survey that follows your company’s values and hands it out at least twice a year.
- Specific - Appoint the persons responsible for creating the survey.
- Measurable - The information from the survey will show how engaged your employees are right now.
- Achievable - HR professionals should have the skills to design this survey.
- Relevant - Better employee engagement generates higher productivity
- Time Bound - Survey to be completed twice a year.
Employee engagement is not the easiest nut to crack. It requires patience. It requires appreciation and a strong team spirit. One team-building activity per year will not be the primary driver to boost engagement among your peers. You need to have a strong company culture, your managers to continuously recognize their direct reports for what they are doing great and provide feedback on how to be better, and the professional peer relationships to be valued.
11. Improve talent acquisition
Everyone in HR needs to keep up with the times, which also applies to the professionals handling talent acquisition.
HR managers need to have clear and achievable hiring targets and deadlines, and how do these better than using SMART goals?
SMART Goal example: Increase the number of effective job openings filled during the expected deadline by 20% over the time span of the following year.
- Specific - Increase the hiring process in the following year.
- Measurable - The increase should be at least 15%.
- Achievable - Improve the language and meaning of the job posting and use hiring software.
- Relevant - Higher productivity overall.
- Time Bound - All next year-round, the hiring process should be more efficient with a 20%.
To grow your business, you need to hire excellent professionals. Jim Collins, the author of the famous book Good to Great, once said: Great vision without great people is irrelevant. So, ensure your hiring practice is up-to-date and competitive with the other players in your industry.
12. Offer positive motivation
New hires must understand their role in the company and how their work will affect the organization as a whole. They should be aware of how necessary their training is, and this way can be motivated for the future.
A great idea is to implement a mentorship program for new hires to make the most of the first weeks and months of a new hire.
SMART Goal example: Select one person from every team to mentor the newly hired and finish the setup for this process in a maximum of three months.
- Specific - Appoint the mentors and train them to face this challenge.
- Measurable - Managers can see results in how fast the new hire is productive.
- Achievable - Every team can appoint a member for the mentorship program.
- Relevant - Better motivation and integration for the new hires.
- Time Bound - Three months to implement this idea.
Less stress, better collaboration, fewer disputes, higher satisfaction, better goal achievement, a boost of creativity, and improved loyalty are reasons for the importance of employee motivation. Our article on Employee motivation highlights 20 reasons why keeping your workforce motivated is essential for success, plus three motivational theories that will guide you toward making better decisions when motivating your peers.
HR professionals support the organization in achieving success through their policies, and SMART goals are the perfect method to do this. SMART goals are not vague, so they allow tracking progress and celebrating milestones, which is always a nice idea!