OKRs in HR: Affecting Culture in the Workplace


OKRs; the sibling to KPIs and an often overlooked component of business planning. In the HR department OKRs can tend to have an ambiguous role. It’s not always clear how the OKRs should influence or direct the HR team, but they can have a powerful part in the business and important part of any consulting company offering HR services.

OKR Basics


Often, OKRs and KPIS seem interchangeable. However, they have key differences and their own specialized areas to cover. Knowing the difference between the two is key to using them to their full potential. For a deeper look into their differences, take a read through our KPI vs OKR blog.

As a brief summary, KPIs stand for Key Performance Indicators. These are markers and benchmarks that you set to keep a quantified eye on your business goals. Examples include how many new clients you sign on each month, social media engagement, monthly revenue, and team growth. These are all directly related to the operations of the business, and less so about the culture and environment.

OKRs stand for Objectives and Key Results. By definition alone, these are more applicable to the HR side of your business. They are ways to measure what your team is trying to achieve on a goal-based level, not a produced numerical result.

These goals still must be clearly defined with a timeline set. They should include a description of steps needed to achieve the goal. As well as frequent check-ins to validate the progress.

Basic OKRs to Get You Started

Are you more of an example learner? Here’s a list of common OKRs to give you a better idea of what they look like compared to KPIs. You can also use these to get your team started on OKRs.

Objectives are goals and intents, while Key Results are time-bound and measurable milestones under these goals and intents.


Objective: Realign the culture for the company

Key Result:

  • Have a clear mission and vision.
  • Roll out a concise onboarding program and share it with the company

Objective: Boost customer satisfaction

Key Result:

  • Gain 10 Google reviews this year
  • Gain 5 referrals from past customers this year

OKRs in HR

Affecting the Culture

Implementing OKRs into the business needs to be done with great intention. Not only can you set goals for the HR team to augment their presence in the company, but you are also setting expectations for the team that you need to be aware of.

You need to cautiously word the objectives so that they are presented as constructive and not critical. These are a chance to improve the team’s culture and working outputs, but if it’s presented to them in a negative way, they’ll see it as an insult to their work and get discouraged.

For example:

Reduce employee stress

This implies that the stress is palpable and affecting work performance


Establish a Wonderful Employee Wellness Program

Presents it as the company showing it cares about its employees.

Setting Intentions

When deciding your HR OKRs, think carefully, and thoroughly workshop the objectives you want to set. You need to make sure that each objective covers a certain intention for the company, and doesn’t compete with any other objectives you are looking to set. 

You need to discuss with the relevant team members the type of environment you are trying to build, and the expected steps needed to reach that ideal setting. Then work backwards to narrow down the key results, and group them into objectives. This ensures that all decisions are coming from the best intention for the company culture and well-being of the team.

OKRs in HR are Important

In conclusion, if you haven’t already set OKRs into your HR practices, it’s time to do so. If you’ve already done it, it might be time for a revamp! These OKRs need to be constantly revised and checked in to make sure they are making the impact on your team that you are hoping for. We recommend a quarterly OKR review. This can be done more often if you have a lot of OKRs on the go and want to be a bit more tight-leashed with the performance. At the end of the day, do what works best for your company.

Helina Patience, CPA, CMA
Author: Helina Patience, Founder, CPA, CMA, BA (Hons), BEd

Helina is a CPA, CMA with over fifteen years of experience in finance & HR within multinational companies, across many industries. Also the CEO of entreflow consulting group where I help small to medium-sized businesses get organized, grow, and crush their goals. I hold vast global experience after living and working in Australia, India, the UK and Ireland. Connect on LinkedIn.

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