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OKRs—objectives and key results—are used by many organizations to help align individual, team, and business goals.

Some of your most important OKRs belong to your human resources (HR) department around key responsibilities such as recruiting, development, and retention.

They help ensure that all members of the department have clear objectives and can measure their progress toward them.

In this article, I explain what OKRs are, how you can use them at your company, and provide some examples of OKRs for HR.

What Are Objectives And Key Results (OKRs)? 

OKR is a goal-setting framework, pioneered by Intel and then Google, used to set company, team, and individual goals and track progress.

Normally set quarterly, but sometimes bi-annually or annually, each objective put forth must be broken down into measurable key results. The formula is this:

Objective (a personal, team, or business goal) measured by these key results (typically three or more).

Objectives should be aligned across the organization and key results are quantitative metrics that should be challenging but achievable.

Example human resources OKR for an HR manager

Objective: Reduce employee turnover from 20% to 10% by the end of Q2. 

Key results:

  • Work with managers to have a development plan created for every employee
  • 100% of learning and development budget used by every employee
  • 100% of managers are having one-on-ones with their team
  • 100% of performance feedback complete
  • Managers trained up on certain concepts (radical candor, psychological safety, PIPs, etc).

Why HR Teams Use OKRs

OKRs are used across all departments to help achieve goals like increasing revenue (executive level) and higher employee retention (human resources).

Advantages of using the OKR framework include:

  • Clarity and focus: OKRs provide a simple framework to help prioritize their goals and focus efforts on what truly matters. 
  • Bridging strategy and execution: OKRs help translate strategic goals into actionable plans, ensuring that the day-to-day work is directly contributing to the organization's strategic objectives.
  • Alignment and transparency: OKRs help ensure that all levels of the organization are aligned towards common goals. If OKRs are shared openly within the organization, everyone gains visibility into what others are working on, fostering a sense of unity and collaboration.
  • Quantifiable results: The emphasis on key results provides a clear measurement of progress towards objectives. This quantifiability makes it easier to assess performance and make informed decisions.

HR OKR Examples

The human resources function is always a busy one. HR professionals use OKRs to help them stay focused on achieving their goals and improving the business. Use these examples to help you develop yours.

HR OKR examples to develop company culture

Objective: Improve company culture.

Key results:

  • Conduct a company culture survey
  • Using culture survey feedback, identify the top 2 areas for improvement
  • Suggest 5 changes the company should implement to improve our workplace culture.

Objective: Build a strong culture to improve employee engagement and motivation.

Key results:

  • Develop an executive communication plan to keep team members up to date with organizational developments and progress toward objectives
  • Launch an employee recognition program that recognizes team members for upholding our values
  • Organize 2 team building activities every quarter.

HR OKR example for employee engagement

Objective: Increase employee engagement.

Key results:

  • Collect monthly engagement surveys
  • Use data from surveys to reach 90% engagement score
  • Hold stay interviews with 10 team members.
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HR OKR examples for recruitment

Objective: Improve employer brand.

Key results:

  • Run an employer evaluation project (EVP)
  • Increase eNPS by 15%
  • Sign off job description voice and tone guide
  • Implement a candidate feedback survey (most ATSs will have one)
  • Win a “Best Places to Work in X” award.

Objective: Improve candidate conversation rate by 10%

Key results:

HR OKR examples for employee retention

Objective: Increase average employee tenure by 50%

Key results: 

  • Increase employee satisfaction scores to 8 or above
  • Review benefits and compensation vs market rates
  • Hold stay interviews with 10 team members
  • Hold sessions to help employees build their own career roadmaps
  • Introduce flexible working options.

Objective: Improve the employee net promoter score (eNPS) from 55-70 end Q4

Key results:

  • Survey 100% employees to assess engagement levels and gather feedback on how we can improve the employee experience by end Q1
  • 100% employees to have created a professional development plan with their manager by the end of Q1
  • Create a formal employee recognition program to champion great work and help operationalize culture end Q1
  • Assess salaries and total compensation vs industry average end Q2.

HR OKR example for employee wellness

Objective: Increase employee health and wellbeing.

Key results:

  • Review office snacks and offer healthier alternatives
  • Introduce a 1-hour exercise allowance per day
  • Set up an initiative for employees to get access to a therapist 
  • Reduce sick days per employee from 2 to 1 day per month.

HR OKR examples for performance management

Objective: Standardize performance management across the business.

Key results: 

Objective: Switch to ongoing performance management over the new quarter.

Key results:

  • 7 out of the 10 managers must implement a bi-weekly check-in process
  • Migrate all employees to quarterly performance review process
  • Ensure 75% of the employees have a personal development plan (PDP) before the quarter ends
  • Achieve 100% completion rates for performance reviews before the quarter ends
  • Implement a new performance management tool to help streamline the new process.

HR OKR examples for training and development

Objective: Provide employees with the training they need to be more effective.

Key results:

  • Set aside a training and budget for each employee and ensure 100% usage
  • Assign 1 day personal development time per month and work to ensure 75%+ usage.

Objective: Improve employee training to upskill frontline staff.

Key results:

  • Increase average training feedback survey score to above 7
  • 100% completion rate of mandatory frontline employee training program by end of Q1
  • Introduce two third-party exams.

HR OKR example for employee onboarding

Objective: Streamline and improve the employee onboarding process

Key results:

  • Create a content library in Slite with mandatory reading and onboarding checklist for all new starters
  • Improve employee onboarding satisfaction score from 70% to 80%
  • Reduce the 30-day failure rate among new hires from 12% to 4%
  • Conduct 15 interviews to identify improvements to the onboarding process.

HR OKR example to improve diversity and inclusion

Objective: Building a culture where all employees feel included and comfortable contributing ideas or asking for support.

Key results:

  • Survey employees to assess levels of inclusion across the organization end of Q1
  • Require all managers to complete diversity and inclusion training by the end of Q1
  • Create personal development plans around inclusivity for all managers by end of Q2

HR OKR example to improve compensation and benefits

Objectives: Improve compensation and benefits metrics to become a more attractive employer.

Key results:

  • Complete a salary benchmarking exercise to ensure total compensation meets the industry average by end Q2
  • Use employee feedback combined with HR metrics to assess the appropriateness of our total rewards package by the end of Q2
  • Improve employee satisfaction (ESAT) score in the annual compensation and benefits surveys from 60% to 80% by end of Q4

HR OKR example to improve managerial effectiveness

Objective: Equip managers with the support they need to perform their roles effectively.

Key results:

  • Survey 100% of managers to gather feedback on pain points and how they can be better supported
  • Create a people partner program so HR can better support new managers across the organization.
  • Ensure 100% managers complete feedback training.

HR OKR for ensuring HR compliance

Objective: Improve HR compliance within the company.

Key results:

  • Implement a mandatory HR compliance test that each new employee must pass within 10 days of onboarding
  • Speed up 85% of HR compliance-related complaints in under three business days
  • Complete 75% of all HR compliance training before the end of the current quarter

HR OKR example for OKR adoption

Objective: Achieve the organization-wide adoption of OKR methodology. 

Key results:

  • 100% adoption of OKR methodology across all teams
  • Achieve 60% completion on the first cycle.

How To Create HR OKRs

Creating effective HR OKRs is a collaborative process that begins with setting organizational goals that then cascade down to the individual level.

1. Assess organizational strategy and goals

  • Understand organizational goals: Start by thoroughly understanding the broader organizational objectives for the upcoming period.
  • Identify HR’s role: Determine how the HR department can best contribute to achieving these broader goals, focusing on areas like talent management, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, etc.

2. Draft objectives

  • Brainstorm objectives: Gather input from relevant stakeholders and brainstorm potential objectives.
  • Refine and prioritize: Narrow down the list to a manageable number of objectives that are most critical for the upcoming cycle.

4. Define Key Results

  • List potential key results: For each objective, brainstorm potential key results. Key results should be measurable and challenging.
  • Select and refine key results: Choose 2-5 key results per objective that best indicate success. 

5. Align and Assign

  • Align OKRs with organizational goals: Ensure each OKR aligns with the broader organizational goals to ensure coherence and focus.
  • Assign ownership: Assign each objective and its key results to specific teams or individuals. This establishes accountability.

6. Finalize and Communicate

  • Finalize OKRs: Review and finalize the OKRs with stakeholders. Ensure they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound).
  • Communicate OKRs: Share the final OKRs with the entire organization. Transparency is key to alignment and engagement.

7. Implement and Track

  • Integrate into daily work: Encourage teams and individuals to integrate their OKRs into their daily and weekly plans.
  • Regular check-ins: Schedule regular check-ins (weekly or monthly) to review progress, discuss challenges, and adjust plans as necessary.

8. Review and Reflect

  • End-of-cycle review: At the end of the OKR cycle, conduct a thorough review of what was achieved versus the set key results.
  • Learn and adjust: Discuss what worked, what didn’t, and why. Use these insights to inform the next set of OKRs.

9. Celebrate and set new OKRs

  • Celebrate achievements: Recognize and celebrate successes.
  • Set new OKRs: Start the process over again for the next cycle, using the learnings from the previous cycle to improve the process.

HR OKRs Best Practices

  • Align goals across the org: Ensure OKRs are aligned with the company's strategic goals. Start with high-level organization goals and work down to the team and individual levels. Liz Lockhart’s cascading goals methodology is useful for achieving this.
  • Limit the number of OKRs: Focus is key to achieving your goals. Limiting the number of OKRs helps to ensure that efforts are not spread too thinly. Common practice is to set 3-5 key results per objective and to limit the number of objectives per period (usually a quarter) but this varies across organizations and teams.
  • Make OKRs transparent and accessible: All team members should have access to the organization’s OKRs as well as those of their colleagues. This transparency fosters collaboration and helps everyone understand how their work contributes to the larger goals.
  • Integrate OKRs into regular workflows: OKRs should be part of regular discussions, decision-making processes, and reviews. They shouldn't exist in a vacuum but should be integrated into daily work and the tools you use.
  • Celebrate achievements and learn from failures: Recognize and celebrate when OKRs are met to motivate your team (here are some great employee recognition ideas). Similarly, when OKRs are missed, focus on the learnings and improvements.
  • Make use of specialist technology. Specialist OKR software and goal-setting software can help with formulating, sharing, and tracking goals.

Join The People Managing People Community

Your HR department helps bring in new employees and team members and keeps them happy and productive. When your HR department has clear objectives and measurable goals it increases their focus and efficiency. 

For further guidance on setting and meeting HR goals, join our supportive community of HR and business leaders sharing knowledge and best practices to help you grow in your career and make greater impact in your org.

By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.