To provide a good employee experience, an organization does not need to rush out and buy bean bag chairs and pool tables and ensure every Tuesday is Tequila Tuesday. Instead a positive employee experience is tied into employees finding meaning and purpose in their work, having an impact upon the organization and receiving real time feedback and appreciation for their contribution. This is backed up by countless pieces of research on how engaged employees are more productive and likely to stay at an organization for longer. Despite all of this, so many organizations fail to utilize basic yet meaningful ways to achieve this, in favour of superficial activities such as setting up a pool table in the breakout area. Whilst a pool table can be fun, it does not help an employee find meaning in their work, have an impact on an organization or receive appreciation for their contribution. But there is an incredibly simple and free approach that can provide this. It is for HR and Management to provide employees with meaningful short-term goals.

To have a purpose you must have a goal

Using short term goals should be a cornerstone of any employee experience strategy. First, it’s something HR and Management should have been doing anyway for the workforce. But we all know that the annual goal setting process is seen as a box ticking administrative process, rather than a meaningful exercise in most firms. Second, there is zero cost involved in implementing this and everyone could begin to do this today. Third, high performing organisations are goal driven organisations, this has been proved time and time again. But without a doubt the biggest reason short term goals are a cornerstone of employee experience, is because without a goal, it is fundamentally impossible to have a purpose.

How can you be working towards something if there is nothing to work towards? Without a purpose all an employee is doing is performing a list of tasks that their boss told them to do in return for a salary. If someone else, offers them money to do the same tasks elsewhere they will leave for the higher salary. But if an employee has a clear sense of what they are trying to achieve and why, they are much more likely to stay. Short term goals provide this perfectly.

Achieving goals mean employees are succeeding and having an impact

The reason employees are more likely to feel engaged is because they feel like they are achieving something meaningful. By having a series of short-term goals, an employee will feel like they are constantly achieving something of note. This means that they are performing well and that there is a purpose and positive contribution from their role in the company. By having a continuous cycle of ongoing new objectives an employee will always have a purpose. To facilitate this HR and Management need to ensure that there is a continuous improvement culture within the organisation. The aim should be that every quarter a team works on improving at least one area of their portfolio. This provides a never-ending list of objectives and therefore a never-ending list of achievements and contributions from an employee. They are always going to feel like they are having an impact and doing meaningful work.

Short term goals mean constant feedback

Finally, it important to remember that employees want feedback. It has been repeatedly proven that consistent constructive feedback is an important part of employee engagement. Consistent feedback is also a key trait of high performing teams. HR and Management need to ensure that employees are constantly provided with constructive criticism and recognition and appreciation in real time. If someone does a great job on delivering a project in February, they want to be told they did a good job in February, not in December when they are doing the annual performance review. Likewise, if they didn’t do a great job in February on that project, they would like to know what they could have been done better and coached to improve that area in February too. Short term goals are the perfect way to ensure there is ongoing dialogue throughout the year