OKRs is the new buzzword amongst many businesses. But what are they? And why should businesses go through the effort of migrating an entire workforce over to this new way of thinking?
We touched on the ‘what’ in a previous blog post, which highlights our brief introduction to OKRs for businesses that have never heard of them before. But now, we want to look into exactly why some of the world’s leading companies are using OKRs to supercharge streamline their workforce.
As we know, objectives and key results (OKRs) are a framework for defining and tracking goals and their outcomes within a business. The Objective is qualitative, and the KR’s are quantitative. They are used to focus an entire business around one big, bold goal. OKRs are usually set during a defined time frame, most likely quarterly OKRs.
If you were to start planning out or writing OKRs (we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, so we won’t dwell on this too much just yet!) you would need to keep these two questions in mind:
- What do you want to accomplish? The answer to this will be your objective.
- How are you going to achieve this? The answers will give you your key results.
For example, within a human resources department an example OKR may look something like this:
- Objective: Improve internal employee engagement and job satisfaction
- KR 1: Conduct 3 monthly ‘Fun Friday’ meetings for all employees
- KR 2: Conduct a survey with all employees on their needs for improving company culture
- KR 3: Set up monthly meetings between every employee and manager to discuss job role and progression
Key results give you a clear guideline of what you need to focus your effort on for that time frame to achieve the objective. Your objective must be ambitious and definite, and your key results have to be measurable. Now you know what they are, have a think about what your business objectives would be, and what the key results are that will help you get there.
PSA: These will vary between departments, teams and industries so make sure you do your research. We found a great infographic from Der Growth Guy on Medium that gives a simple snapshot of how this would be set up in a company (ignore the euros). There’s also a great snapshot of the origin of OKRs, for all you history buffs out there:
Why are they used?
Businesses such as Google, Linkedin, Atlassian and Netflix use OKRs in their business as you can see in the infographic below.
And it’s easy to see why such huge global companies are using them:
- Team alignment
Using OKRs effectively, you will be able to align and connect all your employees to your company goals easily and efficiently. Your entire workforce with have visibilities of the company goals and how their team – and an individual can contribute towards that.
- Clear direction
Because all your employees have visibility over company goals, it allows businesses to give clear direction to every team as well as individuals about how they will be affecting that and contributing to its success. This will, in turn, improve resource allocation and management.
- Increased productivity
OKRs can increase productivity for every employee through a clear focus on business goals. If an individual knows exactly what they are aiming for and can be recognised for their efforts towards certain objective, key results or company goals they will be more productive and try harder! Boost individuals’ engagement and empowerment through your goal-setting process.
Businesses can easily track the progress towards a particular business goal, especially through cool features like the one we are working on at Employment Hero…
- More insight for everyone
Everyone in the company will be able to see exactly how goal progress aligns with the company’s vision, strategy, and top priorities. They will also have better insight and transparency across the business successes and areas that still need work. There’s tonnes more we could list off, but we think you get the picture!
Why does Employment Hero use OKRs?
Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer at Employment Hero
“The main reason we love using OKRs at Employment Hero is the transparency to align every person in the organisation to the company’s annual goals. With this method, each person can develop their OKRs to make sure they align with what the company is striving to achieve.”
Key Results go so much further than KPIs or a regular “task list”, they have to be output-driven and metrics-driven. There are often a lot of initiatives and to-do lists behind achieving a key result – however, the key result is the output driving each person or team OKRs are also hugely beneficial in structuring 1:1s with your employee as you can quickly cover progress or potential roadblocks on particular OKRs.
You don’t have to sit there and recall an entire 12 months of achievements either, but instead, you have a nice online method of capturing accomplishments and outputs without onus performance reviews.
Finally, we love using OKRs at Employment Hero because it helps with complete transparency across the company. OKRs also drive accountability across every team, anyone in the company can see where and what any other team or person is working on at any given time.”
What do employees think?
Julia Merrick, Content Marketing Manager
“I enjoy having visibility over the whole company’s OKRs, as business-wide transparency and alignment are important to me. I also like that I can update my key results each week, as this helps keep me accountable and focused on what I should always be striving towards.”
Annabel Thompson, Customer Marketing Manager
“I love that I can see how my output aligns with the success of the company. It makes me feel more motivated to achieve my goals, as I can see the direct impact it will have on the company. At the same time, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t keep me on task. Knowing I have key results to update that are visible to the whole company encourages me to get sh*t done.”
Alex Cole, HR Product Specialists
“OKRs have been able to make managing goals easier and simpler than in any other sales role previously. I am able to update and manage targets and provide real-time data to my management team showing how I am tracking for the month/quarter/year. Using OKRs I have been able to really detail my attention to what is required for day to day and have been showing greater results than in any other role. I would highly recommend OKRs to any company who is looking to provide a great goal management tool that allows for overall goals and individual team goals.”
As you can see, employees also love using OKRs in their day-to-day working life and according to HR Daily, they’re the better way to judge successes, achievements and company goals. “Employers cannot truly claim to have implemented agility if their employees remain beholden to individual KPIs,” says Affonso. “KPIs are part of the system of work, the cogs or wheels of the organisation… you can pull those levers to enable teams to work better,” she says.
“There’s no incentive for them to work as a team and have that collaboration if KPIs are individual.” This is another reason why Employment Hero and other companies across the globe are now leaning into OKRs so that multiple parties can all work towards the same goal.
The Wrap Up
As you can see OKRs are the new buzzword for a very good reason. They are straight forward, easy to track and help get your whole business working towards the same things! It’s not just beneficial for business, but employees so much prefer using them so they know exactly how their job role contributes to the business. What more could you want? Over the next few weeks we want to explore more about the world of OKRs, so stay tuned as we deep dive into the implementation, building a business case and OKR success stories.
OKRs in Employment Hero
We liked OKRs so much we made sure they became a key feature in the Employment Hero platform. If you’d like to find out more, read our latest Goals OKRs product blog.