HR Olympics: Overcoming Hurdles in the Workplace

August 5, 2021 by Verified First

HR Olympics: Overcoming Hurdles in the Workplace

In our careers, we easily get stuck in the humdrum of the day-to-day. This feeling of being restricted or stuck creates a hurdle that needs to be overcome. However, it’s not always easy to make the jump. 

Since HR drives many organization-wide initiatives, it’s crucial to build a foundation that will keep initiatives from becoming stagnant. With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics nearing its end, what better time to reflect on how we can manifest our own “HR Olympics” and learn how to overcome hurdles in the workplace. 

Set SMART goals.

As global icons, Olympic athletes have to set lofty goals to achieve their dreams, and without proper planning, hard work, dedication, and focus, they could lose everything they’ve worked so hard for. 

Katie Ledecky, arguably one of the greatest female swimmers of all time, believes people should set really high goals. In a recent interview, she expanded stating, “Set goals that, when you set them, you think they're impossible. But then every day you can work towards them.”

While we can’t all be Olympic, gold-medal champions, we can think like Olympians when setting SMART goals that help us (and those around us) inch closer to achieving workplace initiatives.

As you are well aware, HR initiatives directly impact the recruitment and retention of talent largely guiding organizational success. Since people are the greatest asset an organization has, it’s important for HR to set SMART goals and align talent needs with the organization’s mission. 

What are SMART HR goals?

  1. Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  2. Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  3. Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  4. Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  5. Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Aligning clear goals to the organization’s mission also helps to prioritize responsibilities and create a shared vision something so crucial for overcoming hurdles in the workplace. 

Learn how to pivot.

While goal setting is important, it’s also important to remain agile in case you need to pivot a lesson the world’s Olympians recently learned. 

With the delay of the Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes, trainers, organizers, families, etc. had to pivot so they could prioritize health and safety. To represent this drastic pivot, the 2021 opening ceremony included multiple performances, depicting the emotional, mental, and physical strain of having to train another year in isolation while athletes put their dreams on hold. 

While the term ‘pivot’ has multiple meanings, they all indicate a change in direction. Oftentimes, we have to pivot in life to meet the goals we’ve set. 

In a more literal sense (quite literal), we saw great examples of pivoting in the 2021 Olympics, including: 

  • Eighteen-year-old, Suni Lee, who pivoted her way into becoming the fifth woman on Team USA to win a gold medal for her performance in the women’s Olympic Gymnastics all-around event. 
  • Three Olympic skateboarders, Momiji Nishiya, 13, Rayssa Leal, 13, and Funa Nakayama, 16, pivoted their way into winning Olympic medals. 

Whether it be a gymnast pivoting or a skateboarder, being agile enough to pivot is essential to achieving goals. 

In terms of HR, no matter how successful your organization is, failing to pivot can put you at risk for pursuing initiatives that don’t help you reach your goals. Knowing when and how to pivot can save time and resources down the road. 

To be a proactive pivoter:

  1. Strengthen your feedback structure so you can listen to current market demands and adjust as needed to effectively reach your goals.
  2. Align with executive leadership to gauge where you’ll need to readjust your recruitment and retention strategies before it’s too late. 

For more insight on how your organization might have to pivot to meet current labor market demands, read about “The Great Resignation and What You Can Do About It” here

Use your resources. 

A great number of individuals have amazing come-to-be stories, including Olympic athletes. However, many have had to get creative with resources so they could overcome the hurdles facing them. 

Take Olympic weightlifter, Hidilyn Diaz, for example. She had to get creative when training for the Olympics in a pandemic. Due to the COVID-19 travel ban, she created a home gym out of water bottles. Want to know the result? She made the Philippines proud as she became the first-ever to win a gold medal for her country. 

Just like Olympic athletes utilize their resources to accomplish their goals, HR should be using resources to maximize their full potential. And if your resources aren’t supporting your initiatives, maybe it’s time to pivot.

What types of resources might support HR in overcoming workplace hurdles?

  • A customized HR tech stack
  • The 2021 TA Technology Buyer’s Guide
  • Industry-related thought leadership webinars
  • SHRM and HRCI credit

Using resources to overcome hurdles in the workplace empowers you to meet your goals in easier, faster, smarter, and more creative ways. 

Prioritize mental health.

While setting goals is crucial to overcoming hurdles in the workplace, so is prioritizing mental health. It’s important to find a balance to not unconsciously promote burnout. 

Especially when under the watch of the world, Olympic athletes are under immense pressure to train and perform. This year, Simone Biles heroically decided to withdraw from the team finals and women’s all-around event to prioritize her mental health above her participation setting a worldwide example about the importance of taking care of your mind. 

Being an Olympic athlete is a full-time job and they, too, can experience overwhelming pressure and standards that impact their performance, productivity, and physical ability. 

When we bend and break for our jobs, we risk breaking in the end. 

As the workplace now has a much bigger role in employee well-being than it ever has before, HR’s role has expanded to support mental health by:

There are many benefits to prioritizing mental health in the workplace. By creating an environment that people want to support and become invested in, you increase their performance and productivity levels. As they say, you take care of your team and your team will take care of you. 


Oftentimes, working in HR can feel like the Olympics. With a million tasks to get done and lofty goals, the pressure to perform is high. However, getting over hurdles requires practice, whether you are jumping them or overcoming them. 

To prepare for the “HR Olympics” and overcome hurdles in the workplace:

  1. Set SMART goals.
  2. Learn how to pivot.
  3. Use your resources.
  4. Prioritize mental health.

Looking to add an HR resource to help you overcome those hurdles? Let’s chat about our one-click background screening integration!

About Verified First
Verified First is known for delivering streamlined background screening backed by the best client support, and for developing the easiest, fastest HR system integrations, for free. Our client support team is U.S.-based, answers calls in seconds, resulting in hundreds of positive testimonials and a 96% customer satisfaction. Verified First's patent-pending, award-winning integrations include over 100 applicant tracking systems, and provide clients a turn-key experience.

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