Objectives and Key Results, otherwise known as OKRs was a management concept developed by Andy Grove, the Co-founder, and CEO of Intel. As one of the preeminent business thinkers of the 20th century, his idea was to demonstrate to operators how to recalibrate their organizations and develop a model that can promote continual growth. The OKR model provides a framework that defines what we are seeking to achieve while the key results provide organizations the how by emphasizing the primary goals with specific measurable actions.
In this evolving business environment where concepts such as mental health are becoming more prominent in daily work culture, it should become more evident that leadership across the corporate enterprise embraces OKRs as a fundamental tool to help them navigate this uncharted territory. So, let us begin with some key questions that will help to uncover these areas to better articulate mental health topics while refining OKRs as a pathway to be helpful within daily business practice.
As mental health concerns become a more prominent need within an organization, the underlying question is how does one address it at the outset? As the very culture of work is struggling to figure out how to balance between telework, in person, and hybrid models, it is important that leadership not only are aware of the mechanics of this process, but the residual impact as well. There are new concerns, challenges, and struggles that organizations are facing or will face that must be addressed. Communication around mental health should be one of the prime objectives for any organization in this new work environment. Leadership must be there to set the tone throughout the organization by offering various avenues for all employees to have access to a robust suite of resources so they may work through issues surrounding their mental health as they arise in real-time. Part of the objective is to normalize mental health strategies as part of day-to-day business life that will ultimately enhance performance, motivation, and shape a healthy culture of innovation. Reframing this approach offers organizations a greater appreciation of the value of mental health in the workplace while illustrating the investment in its workforce by offering them a desirable place to work and grow one’s careers.
Once having articulated the objective, the next step is to start the process of emphasizing key results by examining more closely the how question. This level of inquiry is critical because it provides leadership with a way to think through the process and shape a more comprehensive roadmap going forward. In this ever-changing work environment, there is a new level of complexity and leaders must have the capacity to embrace change quickly and be open to employees’ needs in ways that have been missing. Ultimately, the recognition of mechanics provides a much-needed bridge between mental health and the maturing connectivity between human capital and business execution which will be central in defining the future of work.
So how do business leaders begin to execute the process of the how within the OKRs of mental health in their organization? It all starts by rewiring the culture of an organization where companies continue to evaluate the mechanics of work and see the implementation of different work models being employed. The concept of needs must be highlighted as an essential element of the process. Understanding that this is an ongoing activity companies should begin to rewrite their organizational strategies and pinpoint specific tactics that run the gamut from those in the office to those that are fully virtual. Discovering the how, business leaders should recognize the importance of words like flexibility, autonomy, and purpose will have more value than just a paycheck while being intimately linked to the significance of employee’s mental health. It is this awareness of attitudes and behaviors that are critical to the future health and wellness of a growing business in the digital economy.
The OKR process while not new in the business landscape does offer a fresh approach to measuring key strategies around mental health and wellbeing. As companies’ work cultures continue to progress, having a metric to apply for the next generation of work-life is more critical than ever. As the future of work is emerging business leaders need to find the tools to be a step ahead and help define the next practices for employee engagement.