Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 13 May 2022 ·

How OKRs improve employee productivity: Setting goals for a better work-life

Working in an office can be stressful and unproductive if there are too many distractions, but it doesn’t have to be this way! By setting OKRs, objectives and key results with your direct supervisors and peers, you can form better working relationships that are beneficial to your individual productivity and the team’s productivity as a whole. This article explains how you can use OKRs to improve employee productivity by setting more focused goals in the workplace.

If you haven’t heard about OKRs yet or just need a refresher, read our recent post on OKRs: Everything you need to know.

Employee Productivity

At its most basic level, employee productivity is the amount of output per unit of input. It’s also important to note that employee productivity can be measured in both effort and outcome. Employee productivity doesn’t always come from hours worked — working smarter is sometimes far more valuable than working harder. The value of employee productivity is evident when you consider all of your company’s resources – time, money, equipment, space – and how much those resources are used to generate revenue. If you have one resource (an employee) who generates £1 million worth of income but uses up £1.5 million worth of other resources (time spent at work) over the same time period, then that person isn’t very productive. OKRs provide a practical goal-setting framework that structures workloads and directs the focus so all employees know exactly where they should focus their efforts to achieve the best outcome, thus maximising productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.

Real-Time Feedback

Manual goal-setting can be a great place to start. However, one of the limitations is that you can’t always see up-to-date feedback and progress. And so it can be difficult to tell if you are improving or falling behind. OKR software aims to provide continuous real-time performance data and metrics that enable business leaders to see exactly how the business is performing at a glance. This real-time feedback helps you understand where things stand now, what needs improvement and gives an idea of how much effort will be required to reach that next level.

Target-Driven Initiatives

OKRs can lead to internal task-focused campaigns that encourage healthy team competition and enhanced employee productivity. If these internal campaigns are aligned with the overall business-level objectives and key results, they can help move things forward dramatically. Getting everyone on the same page and working together to achieve a common outcome can even be fun if packaged correctly.

Align Team Goals with Company Goals

OKRs create an alignment of goals between employees and executives. This allows each team to set incremental goals while understanding how they contribute to larger business goals. In turn, employees have more freedom and understanding of what is expected of them as they build their individual OKRs.

Improve Communication within Teams

If you’re just learning about OKRs, you may think - why on earth would we want to share our goals with everyone? This can be a popular initial objection! However, sharing the top-level business goals gives every team member visibility into what others are working on. Transparently sharing your objectives throughout the entire business helps you come together as a whole. This results in more collaboration, engagement—and happier, more productive employees. OKRs provide a structured way to communicate these goals throughout different levels as they cascade from the CEO throughout all teams.

Set Realistic & Achievable Goals

OKRs are all about goal setting and strategy execution. These goals must be realistic and achievable, albeit with stretch. Otherwise, it can lead to overwhelm and a decline in productivity. Once you create your objectives and key results, we suggest breaking these key results down even further into smaller milestones that can be done one by one, all adding to your overall progress. This will help you stay on track throughout achieving your long-term goals. As the smaller milestones are ticked off, it provides a motivational boost to keep going and enhance your productivity.

Opportunities to Grow

It can be hard to pinpoint who’s doing a great job and who needs some guidance with so many employees. Once an OKR system is in place, leaders and managers can easily see their teams’ live performance, progress, and achievements, enabling them to identify rising stars. These are the people they should ideally develop further and show appreciation for in an attempt to retain top talent. With an effective system like OKRs in place, you can dedicate more resources to high performers—instead of just guessing which of your employees is most likely to flourish. Furthermore, from an employee’s point of view, having a clear plan of what’s expected of you is extremely helpful to know where you can make the most significant impact and how you can shine. As a leader, you’re giving your employees the tools to succeed.

Regular Feedback on Progress

Ongoing feedback from your boss is essential to stay on track and increase productivity. A manager should be able to assess team performance, note areas for improvement, and offer advice on how to get back on track. It’s challenging to maintain motivation without regular meetings between you and your boss where both of you reflect on progress. It’s also challenging to gather frequent feedback from co-workers or employees outside of management positions. OKRs provide the perfect framework for facilitating this feedback making it as clear as day whether you have achieved your objectives and key results within the specified timeframe or not!

Achieve More with the 1-3-5® OKR Methodology

At Reclaro, our OKR software is based on the award-winning 1-3-5® methodology, which helps structure your strategic priorities and speed up execution. The 1-3-5® refers to 1 crystal-clear vision, 3 mission-critical objectives, and 5 key results per objective. This unique business planning methodology facilitates the smooth cascading of business goals from the leader to all teams and levels. It dramatically helps direct focus and improves employee productivity.

Accelerate Results

Cascading the vision, objectives and goals of the business leader throughout the entire organisation gives everyone critical insight into what the organisation is trying to achieve and, in doing so, sets each employee up for success as they feel included and empowered to make an impact. OKRs communicate precisely what work should be done, so much less time is spent on other tasks that don’t really make a difference. The objectives capture the strategic priorities, including what strategic goals need to be achieved and when (and with which projects). The key results provide measurable targets aligned towards each objective that needs to be completed to make progress towards that objective—all of this improves employee productivity which ultimately accelerates results.

If you would like to learn more about creating compelling OKRs for your business, download our free resource - The OKR Builder™ today! It includes a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

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