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The Definitive Guide to SMART Goals for HR Professionals

Setting clear goals through a process like the SMART goal formula is a, well – smart way to make sure goals are successfully met!

Anna Coucke

by Anna Coucke - January 26th, 2023


When creating goals in any department, especially human resources, it is crucial that they are actionable and measurable in order to be achieved. Setting clear goals through a process like the SMART goal formula is a, well – smart way to make sure goals are successfully met! Let’s take a look at what SMART goals are and how they can be applied in your workplace.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals follow a framework so that their progress can be better measured and overall be more attainable.

Simply put, SMART goals are those that are:

  • Specific: Define the who, what, where, when, and why

  • Measurable: Use metrics to track progress

  • Achievable: Can be attained with the skills and resources available

  • Relevant: The result is important and aligns with other goals

  • Time-bound: Can be set with a clear and reasonable deadline

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Opposed to more ambiguous or unclear goals, SMART goals are written with much more clarity and measurability. With HR departments juggling so many responsibilities and dealing with an ever-evolving workspace, having clearly defined goals can mean the difference between a goal being achieved or remaining constantly out of reach.

The Benefits of HR SMART Goals

So, what exactly are the benefits of using SMART goals for an HR department? Here are just a few:

Improved Control Over Performance

Creating goals that are specific and measurable encourages individuals to evaluate their abilities at a more granular level and focus on what is working and what can be improved.

Ensuring that a goal is also achievable within a certain timeline also makes them more realistic, less intimidating, and more likely to be met – or even surpassed!

Increased Motivation and Engagement

Lofty goals may sound impressive, but many times may be intimidating or even unattainable, resulting in discouragement. Crafting SMART goals encourages people to take more control and responsibility over their work and overall career advancement.

By creating goals that are distinct and personal, individuals can better understand their skills and begin to push to see what they are capable of.

Enhanced Ability to Monitor Progress

Since some of the most vital aspects of SMART goals are that they are measurable and time-bound, the ability to monitor and measure an HR goal’s progress and success is easier and less subjective.

When creating a SMART goal, ensure that the metrics and timeframe used are relative and realistic to your organization. If you are unsure of what is achievable due to a lack of previous results, it’s best to start out with a more conservative goal and expand on it as results come in.

Using an HRIS like GoCo allows you to monitor valuable data and reports on employee performance, engagement, and much more, so you have the insight to set the most effective goals possible!

12 SMART Goal Examples For HR

So, what is an example of a SMART goal that HR departments can set? Even if your department already has some more general goals that you are working towards, the good news is that most of them can be reworked to fit the SMART goal framework!

Let’s say a small company has seen employee engagement scores slip, with feedback received from employees that they would like to attend more in-office events than the current single event held per quarter. To combat this, the HR team set a goal that doesn’t fit the SMART format: “Improve employee engagement scores.”

Good start, but it seems a bit intimidating and difficult to know when it has been achieved. Since there is data to show exactly how this goal can be achieved, it could be adapted to fit this specific company’s abilities and changed to something such as:

“This quarter, our HR team will hold three in-office events in order to boost employee engagement scores by at least 5% on our next employee survey.”

That seems much more attainable! This goal satisfies the formula by being:

  • Specific: The HR team will hold three events this quarter.

  • Measurable: The HR team will hold three in-office events during this quarter, resulting in employee engagement improvement by at least 5% on the next survey.

  • Achievable: Increasing the number of events from one to three is reasonable for this team. Since direct feedback has been received about why engagement isn’t higher, acting on that feedback directly could result in a small boost to that metric.

  • Relevant: Employee satisfaction and engagement at this company has been slipping slightly. Increasing it is important to employee retention and the overall success of the company.

  • Time-bound: The events will be held within the next quarter, and a 5%+ employee satisfaction rate increase will be reflected in the company’s next employee survey.

Here are 12 sample HR goals that fit the SMART goal framework:

  1. Hold three in-office events in the next quarter to boost employee engagement scores by at least 5% on our next employee survey.

  2. Increase the number of new hires who complete all onboarding paperwork and training within the first 30 days by 15% in the next 6 months by implementing a digital onboarding system.

  3. Reduce turnover rate by 10% in the next 12 months by conducting exit interviews and analyzing the data to identify common reasons for leaving.

  4. Organize one new employee wellness group in the next month and get at least 10 employees to participate.

  5. Reduce time-to-hire by 25% in the next 6 months by implementing an applicant tracking system and streamlining our recruitment process.

  6. Increase diversity in our hiring pool by 15% in the next year by partnering with local organizations and implementing blind resume screening.

  7. Increase employee retention rates by 20% in the next year by implementing a mentorship program for new hires.

  8. Reduce employee absenteeism rates by 15% in the next quarter by implementing a flexible work schedule policy.

  9. Increase employee productivity by 10% in the next 6 months by providing training and development opportunities to all employees.

  10. Increase employee satisfaction ratings for benefits packages by 25% in the next year by conducting a survey and revamping our offerings.

  11. Reduce workplace accidents by 30% in the next year by implementing regular safety training sessions and providing the proper equipment.

  12. Increase the number of qualified applicants for open positions by 20% in the next quarter by implementing a referral program and leveraging social media.

How to Apply HR SMART Goals in Your Workplace

Now that you are familiar with the SMART goal framework, you can begin writing goals for yourself as well! Take a look at some of the top HR goals of small to mid-sized companies and adapt them into achievable SMART goals for your own HR department.

One of the best ways to implement SMART goals in any workplace is by incorporating them into employee performance reviews. In addition to reviewing achievements and general performance, goal setting and progress should be included in actionable reviews.

SMART goals can also be part of weekly or monthly one-on-one meetings between an employee and their manager, as they should be checked on frequently in order to ensure that they are progressing as planned and to allow for adjustments to be made as necessary.

Providing a guide to writing SMART goals along with a template is a good way for employees to get started crafting their own SMART goals.

Want to learn about all of the ways an HRMS can help you track employee performance reviews, implement templates, and much more in order to help your organization reach its full potential? Take a tour of GoCo today!

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