How to fine-tune SMART employee wellbeing goals

by Lucy Tallick, head of wellbeing

Whether we are in a management role or simply planning our short- or long-term strategy, goal setting is absolutely essential in motivating our employees and creating an environment where we can all succeed.

Here at Reward Gateway we love all things Smart. We have SmartHub, SmartSpending, SmartTech and now of course, our new wellbeing product for the UK, SmartFit.

So it’s no surprise that when we work on our planning, goal setting and strategy we like to keep it really simple by using SMART goal setting.

In fact, our group reward director Debra Corey talks about SMART goals a lot when it comes to general HR strategy.

So I guess you’re thinking: “We’ve heard this all before.” And sure, we always use smart goal setting with our teams, but have you checked out how SMART your wellbeing goals are? Here are some of my top tips on how you can really ensure your employee wellbeing strategy delivers on your company goals.

A SMART goal is specific
Most of the problems I see leaders face when setting their wellbeing strategy is that they start with ‘What’ rather than ‘Why’. I’ve reviewed many an annual wellbeing calendar that has taken months of hard work and research to deliver and is packed with fantastic health and wellbeing ideas and initiatives. But what is missing is the clarity of the goal that the business is trying to achieve through implementing a wellbeing strategy.

Choose your destination, and start with the end in mind. Here’s some great ones I’ve seen companies use really well:

  • Decrease stress levels
  • Increase levels of physical fitness
  • Reduce sickness absenteeism costs

A SMART goal is measurable
This is often where it gets tricky. I get asked a lot how I measure wellbeing. As a general question, it can be very difficult, but you want to define your success on VOI or ROI, which I've talked about before. But if you complete step one to defining your SMART goals correctly, the answer here is usually within the way in which you arrived at your goal.

For example: you may have set a goal to decrease the employee stress levels in the organisation due to feedback in performance reviews, on Glassdoor or through an employee survey . Take a look at those numbers, and voila. You’ve found your measurement tool.

In reviewing your absenteeism levels, you can simply look at the number of sick days before and after implementing your wellbeing strategy.

You may have run a health risk assessment throughout the organisation that highlighted a particularly low level of physical activity in your workforce, once again this becomes your start point with a plan to run the same assessment the following year.

It goes without saying that all measurements need to be carried out prior to introducing your wellbeing strategy with a follow up at key check-in points throughout the year.

A SMART goal is achievable
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with wellbeing as it can cover such a broad spectrum of topics. Try not to focus on all at once, make sure that you understand what can be accomplished within the constraints of your time, remember with wellbeing you are trying to educate and improve lifestyle habits these habits will not change overnight, they take time.

Another thing to remember is that healthy habits are notoriously difficult to stick to, so if your timeline is too long be mindful that you will need to keep motivation up throughout the year in order to achieve your end goal.

A SMART goal is realistic
As I previously mentioned, changing lifestyle habits and improving employee wellbeing is difficult it takes time and lots of effort and commitment. Make sure your goals are within the bounds of reality. Manage your own and your team’s expectations, it is likely that whoever is ‘owning’ wellbeing in your organisation is personally committed and bought in to many of the initiatives you are offering through your wellbeing strategy. But that might not be the case with other employees. Likely,  each and every employee does not think or feel the same, so while you can hope that your strategy is going to capture the minds and bodyies of your people, it is highly unlikely that you will see a 100 per cent participation or take-up.

A SMART goal is time-bound
Taking in all of the above, your timeline is going to be key in achieving your wellbeing goals. But wellbeing cannot just be a one month campaign. In order to change the mindset of an organisation you need to embed the wellbeing strategy into the culture. Your team need to live and breathe it everyday. Maintaining your wellbeing goals is also hard as our motivations change, too. So while you may set a long term goal for wellbeing, remember that many of your team may find it hard to maintain motivation throughout the year, so an opportunity to measure/monitor your team’s progress is essential to the overall success of the programme.

When developing SMART wellbeing goals, it’s most important to get complete clarity from the start. If you do this, you’ll have the energy to achieve your own personal wellbeing goals, alongside your employees.