HR Reflections and Resolutions for the New Year

The start of a new year is usually a time for people to take on new projects, either self-improvement based or professional development oriented. While change does not need an arbitrary date, there is however, a vast prevalence of the “fresh start effect” that follows important temporary landmarks that demarcates the passage of time, creating many new mental accounting periods each year. These dates relegate our imperfections to the past, induce people to take a big-picture view of their lives, and thus motivate aspirational behaviors.1

Each year millions of people make resolutions with the hope of ending bad habits and creating good ones. Most people have a pretty bleak record at sticking to their New Year’s Resolutions. According to the Washington Post, 20% of people abandon their resolutions after one week2. Research from the University of Scranton shows that more than 30% of people abandon their resolutions after one month2. More than 50% abandon them after 6 months. Eventually, only 8% of people achieve their stated resolution goals 2.

Many blame a lack of willpower as one of the main reasons for not keeping these resolutions. Research, however, shows that people fail to keep their resolutions either because they take on too many goals or take on goals that are not properly aligned to what matters to them3. This phenomenon can also be seen in business as well. A lot of organizations take on either too many goals or these goals are not aligned with the rest of the organization’s objectives. Being in HR you might have noticed this happening very often where there can be a misalignment of goals at different levels of the organization.

So what can you do?

HR is in the best position to advise business leaders in your organization on these misalignments as well as use behavioral economics and data to help your organization reach some of these goals. Here are some examples how:

Employee engagement and recognition

2016 really focused on employee engagement and highlighted how organizations with an engaged workforce directly added to the financial revenues of their organizations. If improving engagement is your organization’s goal, then using feedback tools to recognize performance on online platforms can be impactful. Employees love being noticed and showing off badges or tokens on their profiles. Humans crave connection. Recognizing employees and their contribution towards business objectives makes them feel appreciated. 69% of employees report working harder towards business goals when they feel appreciated.

Wellness, Workplace flexibility, and Productivity

2016 saw companies like Aetna subsidize organizations giving out Apple Watches to employees to promote wellness programs. These programs are not only good for health insurance, but also improve productivity in the workplace due to employees taking better care of themselves. Prioritizing health and taking time off helps employees decompress, and bring new ideas and problem solving to the business. Companies like Netflix and Zynga even started paying people to take a vacation. Coupling some of the fitness trackers with employee discounts and bonuses can help you reach multiple objectives while promoting a healthy work environment.

Gender and Diversity

2016 was the year when gender and diversity discussion became prominent at the workplace due to US elections. HR everywhere realized the role of diversity in organizational culture. Some organizations, like Salesforce and the University of Waterloo, gave raises to female employees after a wage gap was discovered based on data. HR can play an active role in doing compensation analysis and providing feedback to their senior executive teams on such initiatives. Bias is human, but overcoming it becomes possible when HR becomes mindful on their existence and uses data to fill the gaps.

These are just a few examples of how HR can make a difference in the workplace. Being change agents is what HR does best. Let the New Year be one that uses more data and insights to overcome shortcomings and grow towards a better future.

Salma Sultana - Marketing Manager at StarGarden Corporation, VancouverAbout the Author:

Salma Sultana is the Marketing Manager at StarGarden Corporation. She has over six years experience working in various roles in Research, System Analysis and Project Management. She holds a MBA from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.

Follow her on twitter: @salmasultana