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► HR Managers' Guide To New Year's Resolutions

The new year is a time when many people set professional goals. As a human resources (HR) manager, the new year might usher in a time of change for your workforce as you roll out new policies, aim to repair broken systems, or set goals to achieve in the upcoming year. So how can employers develop a New Year’s resolution plan built for success in the face of such sobering resolution statistics?

Resolution success

According to recent statistics, 37% of people still make personal resolutions for the new year. Of those people, 87% start the year optimistically, reporting they’re very or somewhat likely to keep their resolutions.

Of course, early optimism is tempered by the familiar grim statistics. Research shows only 9% of those who make resolutions keep them, 43% of people abandon their resolution by the end of January, and 23% of people jump ship by the end of the first week.

Some researchers have endeavored to figure out why so many resolutions fail, identifying several core themes for resolution success: motivation, accountability, measurability, and planning. Each plays a crucial role in helping us meet our personal goals. When one or more of these ideals is lacking, resolutions tend to crash and burn, whether in the personal or in the corporate sphere.


Motivation may be the most essential building block for any successful lifestyle change. Likewise, for a work-based resolution, motivation is key. A goal you set simply for the sake of tradition isn’t likely to stick, and you’re also far less likely to get commitment from others on your team if they aren’t guided by a strong sense of determination.

Thus, as an HR manager, you might reflect on any hard lessons learned in the past year to find your motivation. Did any situation showcase inadequate training? Did workplace safety become an unforeseen issue?

Regardless of the situation or event, reflection on past outcomes—positive and negative—helps find the right motivation for workplace goals. So, consider if there’s any outcome you want to avoid or repeat in the new year or if any processes in your workplace need improvement. For example, you might focus on enhanced harassment or sensitivity training, improving workplace safety, or cultivating better work/life balance policies.


Research shows those who set ways to track progress toward their goals are twice as likely to meet them. Holding yourself and others accountable helps goal management and will ensure you move in the right direction.

To that end, appropriately timed meeting and reporting schedules throughout the year can be an effective way to keep progress moving forward. Workplace goals and initiatives obviously have varying levels of significance, so consider whether the carrot or the stick will be a more effective tool in holding others accountable to their tasks.


What gets measured gets done. In other words, when progress or results can be measured in some way, goals are more likely to be met, particularly when your goal depends on the participation of others. Clear and concise metrics not only ensure nothing gets missed but also can be a powerful incentive.

For example, if increasing participation in employee health and wellness programs is on your radar for 2024, consider what types of rewards you could offer employees for reaching specific, measurable fitness goals, such as catered luncheons or event tickets.

The same types of incentives could be offered to employees who reach attendance metrics if improving absenteeism is a goal or perhaps productivity metrics for remote workers if you’re interested in investing in a remote workforce.


Finally, all goals require proper planning and foresight to be executed with success. Focusing on how you will set regularly measured targets and how you will hold yourself—or others—accountable is critical to the planning process.

At the start of the new year, you may want to set aside time for yourself to clearly identify your goals and how you plan to achieve them.

Bottom line

No matter what your HR goal for the new year, these four principles are a road map to success, and no matter what interferences you might naturally experience as the year unfolds, your investment in the planning process will serve you well on your way to 2025.

By Shelby A. Hicks-Merinar. Shelby is an attorney with Steptoe & Johnson PLLC in Morgantown, West Virginia.


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