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How To Set The Right Hiring And Retention Goals

(3-5 minute read)

The fundamental goal of hiring is to secure the right person for job, and the central goal of retention is to reduce employee turnover. Within these larger goals are an abundance of micro goals contributing to the greater hiring and retention frameworks.  With so many goals to tackle, you may wonder, where to start?

The answer lies in simplicity. Instead of simultaneously addressing all the goals in the hiring and retention process, start simple with the following basic goals.


Define the Purpose of the Job

To properly communicate the nature of the job to candidates you must know the core purpose of the position. The singular question here is: why does this job exist? Or, what organizational objective does the job fulfill? By knowing the purpose of the role, candidates can make an informed decision as to whether they want to apply for the job. Further, employees will likely have a sense of purpose if the purpose of their job is transparent to them.

If employees don’t know why they are performing a job, they won’t know where they fit into the larger scheme of things. They will simply be doing the work, without purpose. This lack of direction may rear its head as apathy, where employees lose interest in their work because they see no greater meaning behind it.

Also, it is important for managers and HR professionals to know why the job must be filled now as opposed to later. This not only strengthens the purpose of the job but also helps you prioritize your recruiting process.

Specify Desired Outcomes of the Role

You will need to set clear goals and expectations regarding the work that needs to be done. Consider using the SMART model, which is one of the most widely used models for setting goals and expectations. The model can be applied to most employee roles, regardless of the nature or size of the business.

SMART goals are:

  • Specific—what do you want to accomplish?
  • Measurable—how will you assess the extent to which the goal has been met?
  • Achievable—can the goal be attained in a specific amount of time?
  • Relevant—how does the goal tie into key objectives and responsibilities?
  • Time-bound—what deadlines will ensure timely and successful completion of the goal?

According to an article published by Clear Company, “the most successful companies tend to approach SMART goals from three perspectives:”

  1. Begin with the employee who will be carrying out the SMART goal, and ensure he or she is capable of delivering the objectives of that goal
  2. Align the SMART goal with the overall goals of the organization
  3. Apply the SMART goal to the customer—a SMART goal may be very effective for the employee and the organization but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will have a favorable impact on the customer.

Prepare the Job Description

After defining the purpose and goals/expectations of the job, you will need to prepare a job description—which should include the overall purpose of the job, general tasks the employee will perform each day, and competencies necessary for success. To learn how to craft an effective job description, check out our article “Elements of a Good Job Description.”


Retention goals should consider not just the organization’s point of view, but also the employee’s needs. Generally speaking, employees want to be appreciated by their employer and to be treated fairly and with respect. They want assignments that will stimulate them and encourage them to reach their highest potential. When creating strategies to meet those needs start with the most basic goals.

For example, you may use the SMART model to develop retention goals that allow you to:

  • Regularly provide employees with meaningful feedback
  • Communicate goals and expectations clearly so employees will understand how their work helps the organization achieve its objectives
  • Reward employees in a consistent and fair manner
  • Offer opportunities for growth and development

Also, try not to limit yourself to one goal-setting model when an additional approach might be helpful. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends using RACIN questions, along with SMART questions. RACIN questions ask:

  • Who is Responsible?
  • Who must Approve?
  • Who must be Consulted?
  • Who is simply Informed?
  • Who is Not involved?

As noted by SAMHSA, incorporating RACIN questions into the SMART model provides employees with greater clarity about their role and reduces confusion over project goals.




December 27, 2018




Article Business Executives Under 50 Employees Culture

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