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Blog : Sticking to your resolutions!


Sticking to your resolutions!

The start of a new year is a great time for HR professionals to contemplate and re-evaluate. It’s also the perfect time to put in place some specific HR New Year’s Resolutions. However, like in our personal lives, New Year’s resolutions are often hard to keep.

So if they are going to be achievable then they need to be SMART; specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific. In other words, these need to be clear goals that are understood and agreed upon by all involved and that results can be measured within a sensible time period. As American philanthropist Elbert Hubbard once said:

‘Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal’

So what is the best way to set New Year’s resolutions that will help the whole team sparkle in 2011 and beyond?


First find out what needs improving. Ask as many people as possible in order to determine the current situation. This could be done through an online survey, such as the free engagement survey we offer, or by brainstorming with your team.

Once you have a list, narrow it down no more than five resolutions. Next look at how they can be achieved in smaller chunks, e.g. by department or individual. The 5 W’s (why, what, where, when and why) can also be useful here.

An example resolution could be to have 75% of employees stating that they are happy with their work-life balance. This could be achieved through communication to department heads and then broken down to one-to-one chats between the employee and their line manager.


Measuring the resolution can be difficult. Taleo’s Talent Intelligence Survey suggested that only 55% of companies have information on skills gaps, 41% have data on succession planning and 49% did not know why employees left their organisation within the first year.

It is no good having an objective if there is no facility for measuring outcome. So think of ways that the resolution can easily be measured. Engagements surveys or appraisal systems such as talenttoolbox are great for measuring objectives as the data can automatically be turned into easy-to-read reports and graphs.


Like going to the gym, people don’t stick to resolutions unless they whole-heartedly believe in them. And if the whole team aren’t behind them, then it is likely that they will fail. To make resolutions as attainable as possible, appeal to individuals emotional sides. Explain how the resolutions could benefit them personally and how they can benefit others. Coordinating the review process could even become a special project for certain employees to help increase engagement levels.

Making sure your resolutions are attainable also means you need to continually review progress. Hold monthly meetings and communicate the progress of each resolution. If there are any issues then look to rectify them before it is too late. It is also important to document progress so successes can be celebrated and measuring outcomes are easier.


When planning and reviewing resolutions it is important to take note of the current environment. 2010 was a challenging year for HR. Strikes were rife, British Airways and TFL being two of the most memorable examples, redundancies were rampant and pay cuts were the norm and 2011 promises to be another rollercoaster ride.

The CIPD Employee Outlook survey suggests that one in five employees expect their company to make staffing cuts this year with this rising to a staggering one out of two in the public sector. IHS Global Insight predict that unemployment will rise to 2.68 million by the end of 2011 and the British Chamber of Commerce highlight that over 50% of businesses will freeze or reduce pay in the coming year. Add to this increasing VAT and spiralling living costs and these issues could lead to discontent in the workplace.

Take note of these issues and think about what resolutions would work best in the current climate. Once implemented, continue to measure the situation and environment around you and adapt resolutions accordingly.

Time Specific

Keep resolutions within a sensible timeframe. As the world moves at a faster pace, some of these may be daily goals and others more long term. Long-term resolutions should have formal deadlines that aren’t just casually moved on as this can affect performance and create a laissez faire attitude to completing them.

With management and determination, New Year’s Resolutions can make a real difference and can start a positive habit for life. I challenge you to stick to yours this year! So Happy New Year to you all.

What resolutions have you set for yourself or your business? And did you keep the ones from last year? Let us know!

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