Setting SMART Employee Engagement Goals

Each new year brings inspiration and motivation to change. Resolutions for personal and professional goals are many, and the new year can bring opportunities to adjust programs and organizational initiatives.

This could be the year your organization transforms employee engagement. Let’s take a look at SMART goals and how they can help you make changes in your team, department, or the greater organization.

Consider a common resolution as an example: I am going to exercise this year.

What is it going to take for this goal-setter to feel accomplished? If this were your resolution, would you feel you achieved this goal if you exercised once per month for the year? Probably not, although you would have technically achieved it after one single workout for the year.

Consider this alternate resolution in comparison: I am going to exercise three times per week in a group fitness class after work for the entire year.

There’s little question what it would take for this goal-setter to feel accomplished at the end of the year. In your opinion, which resolution is more likely to achieve its life-changing bigger-picture goal of better health?

Setting goals within our teams, departments, or organizations works in a similar way. If your goal is to “improve employee engagement” this year, how will you know if you achieve it? Particularly in setting team goals that rely on the involvement of others, setting SMART goals is key.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Five “W” questions should be answered here — who, what, where, why and which resources you will need to accomplish the goal.
  • Measurable: How will you know when the goal is achieved? In the case of “improving engagement,” will you monitor program participation, employee satisfaction scores, or retention? These are just a few examples, but you can see how each organization needs to address employee engagement differently, with an understanding of what they can measure and are already measuring.
  • Achievable: To determine if your goal is realistic, ask yourself what stands between you and its accomplishment. Why hasn’t it been achieved already? For example, consider whether you have the financial resources, support from senior leaders, and agency to impact employee engagement across the organization. What is standing in your way — and can you can overcome the obstacles?
  • Relevant: Ask yourself if you are the right person to set this goal. Who do you need to partner with to achieve it? Oftentimes, partnering with HR, marketing, customer service, etc. in initiatives to improve engagement can offer many practical benefits, such as broadening the data you will consider in measurement, understanding the impact of engagement across the organization, and getting support for an investment of time, money, and effort in addressing engagement from senior leaders.
  • Time-bound: When will you know that you have accomplished this goal? If you were to break the goal into a roadmap of sorts, what objectives need to be accomplished by when to keep you on track?


This is your year to address disengagement in your organization. Setting SMART goals can ensure you will accomplish the big picture — and can be great practice for setting and achieving personal goals as well. Will this be the year you get engagement right?