Encouraging Employees to Make (and Keep) New Year’s Resolutions

It’s always hard to believe when it comes around, but it’s New Year’s resolutions time! Individuals have been making resolutions for years, focusing on personal goals like weight loss, romance, and financial discipline.


But New Year’s resolutions are great tools for managers and businesses, as well. Companies should encourage their employees to get into the habit of using the tradition to set some work-related professional goals.

Obviously, setting goals is only the first small step toward actually achieving these goals, though. According to an article from Inc.com, while 60% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% end up keeping them. Half fail before the end of January! So in this post, we’ll also suggest some tips for keeping New Year’s resolutions.

Be Realistic but Ambitious

Creating unrealistic resolutions is likely a setup for failure, disappointment, and discouragement. Goals should be ambitious but also achievable. Using past performance as a benchmark is a great way to do this.

If the error rate in a process was 5% the previous year, set a goal to get it down to 3%. If annual revenues were $10,000,000 last year, a goal of $12,000,000 for the next year is more realistic than $50,000,000, assuming nothing fundamental has changed about the business or the market.

Transparency Begets Accountability

Just as with personal New Year’s resolutions, telling coworkers, managers, and subordinates about goals set for the new year creates a set of people who’ll know whether those goals have been achieved. Encourage employees to share their resolutions to create that extra motivation for success.

Regular Check-Ins

Professional New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it activity. If a goal is set at the beginning of the year and only reviewed at the end, there’s no way to correct course if it’s gotten off track. By contrast, setting regular check-ins to evaluate progress allows action to be taken to address issues before it’s too late.

Celebrate Success!

Achieving annual goals is challenging. Goals are meant to be ambitious, and when they are accomplished—along with all of the other day-to-day work employees are assigned throughout the year—that’s cause for celebration. And the good feelings at the end of the year from recognizing success are just the right energy to kick off the next year and its new resolutions.