The Benefit of Setting Work-Related Goals

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It is the new year, which means it’s time to snap out of our indulgent holiday habits and get back to real-life goals and aspirations.

For my team, this means launching 2017 campaigns for our clients. After all, this is an ideal time to get employees engaged in benefits! There are countless benefits and programs that can be easily promoted and tied to the typical New Year’s resolutions: losing weight, eating healthier, actually using that meditation app on your mobile phone, paying off that holiday-induced credit card debt, finally getting your will or estate in order and many more.

What’s a little more challenging, though, is creating a set of personal work-related goals. For anyone in benefits and HR, this is an excellent time to plan ahead, reflect and prioritize. I’d like to suggest a few aspirational resolutions for you and your team.

I will carve out time to think strategically. 

Oh, peace and quiet. Time to think and reflect. As I write this — on a plane where the Wi-Fi is fortuitously not working (because I need to focus on this article!) — I’m reminded of how hard it is to have just a little time without interruption. Uninterrupted time may be our most precious resource. And it’s one that you must create and protect. More than likely, that means scheduling it on your calendar, prioritizing it as a team and building it into the way you work. What better time to start than now?

I will help my team think about the employee experience as a whole.

As each area of HR gets more sophisticated, and as the complexity of integrating systems and vendors persists, it is more important than ever to think holistically about the employee experience. What are you asking employees to do, step by step, to meet certain goals? Is there a consistent feel, emotion or brand experience across your programs? Can you create more value by connecting tools and resources? These are hard questions to ask and hard to dig into, but they can start to change the overall value of HR. If you’re overwhelmed deciding where to start, look at your new-hire experience. It is an obvious area of opportunity for most companies and one where your efforts will almost certainly create an immediate and measurable ROI.

I will not blame employees.

When I talk with HR and benefits leaders, I often hear these frustrations about employees:

“They just don’t care.”

“They don’t understand.”

“They won’t take the time to learn it.”

“They don’t seek information that’s out there.”

While most of this is true, it most definitely is not because employees don’t care. Rather, it’s because we have created insanely complicated systems and we’re asking average people to figure them out — largely on their own.

So in 2017, let’s stop using the employees-will-never-get-it excuse and start building systems and programs that they can use with confidence. A tall order? Yes, for sure, but not if you commit to the following resolution, too.

I will prioritize making it easier for employees to make good decisions.

I’ve spent my career trying to help employees “understand” our health care and financial systems. But, in the past couple of years, I have gradually let go of the idea that they can actually understand them.

That decision has been inspiring and motivating. Here’s why: we know it is almost impossible to get people to fully understand all the things they need to do to live happily ever after. But we can design programs and systems that make it easy for people to make good decisions and a little harder to make bad ones. This is the essence of the whole field of behavioral economics, an area of study that has really made its way into the workplace in the past several years and one that we employ in our own work. Behavioral economics offers a more strategic — and practical — approach to helping employees, and it can be applied across all areas of HR.

I will celebrate success with my team.

Just as focused time is a scarce resource, in too many organizations recognition is uncommon as well. Plenty of organizations are working on systems that promote workplace recognition, or they’re finding ways to build it into their culture. Just as important, though, is to create rituals among your closest team members. Find ways to recognize each other more often this year, and watch how much that helps you fulfill all the aspirational goals we’ve just talked about.

Jennifer Benz is CEO and founder of Benz Communications, a San Francisco-based employee benefits communications agency. She was named one of Workforce’s Game Changers in 2013. Comment below or email Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

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