How to Set Clear Goals, Priorities, and KPIs with Examples to Hire, Retain and Grow Your Employees

By Alan Gehringer

dateMon, Nov 14, 2022 @ 08:40 AM

Staffing KPIs Blog

You have probably heard the old saying, what gets measured, gets improved. Very much an old engineering phrase from back in the day, but as true today as it was then. As important as it is to measure things, it is just as important to determine the right things to measure. I just recently read an article where Socrates was quoted as saying, “understanding the question is half an answer.” The very same goes for setting goals, KPIs, or priorities. 

It is important to think carefully about what goals you are trying to achieve. We refer to these as targets in many cases. I coach clients to think of this as the stake in the ground, or the ultimate goal they want to achieve at the end of a period, whether a quarter or year. Once you set the end goals, you can begin to think about what priorities and KPIs will help you get there.


Setting Clear Goals (Targets)

Let’s look at a common situation I see today. I work with many high-growth companies, and hiring and retaining employees is one of the biggest challenges they face in this tight labor market. Not doing so successfully can limit their ability to grow and fulfill customer needs in a timely manner. Let’s assume you are targeting a 20% growth rate, and the current headcount is 250 employees. Here are a few goals or targets you might set for the year:

  • Revenue - $500M.
  • EBITDA Margin – 10%
  • Headcount – 300
  • Employee Turnover – 10%
  • Employee Health – 30

Alan Blog Quote 1

Identify the Right Priorities

Here are a few priorities I might recommend creating, depending on what systems and processes are already in place:  (And, of course, to reach the 300-employee goal, we need to retain the 250 we already employ).


Example: Priorities to Gain and Retain Employees

Implement new recruiting, onboarding, training, and employee development program.

  • Super Green – Retention level improved by 5%
  • Green – Program in place in training all new hires 
  • Yellow – Between Red & Green
  • Red – Employee turnover >15%

Research, choose, and implement a new learning management system.

  • Super Green – Every employee has completed 20 hours of training
  • Green – System purchased, and every employee utilizing the new system
  • Yellow – Between Red & Green
  • Red – No system chosen or in place

Identify and hire an outside recruiter to find and screen potential employees for management and leadership positions.

  • Super Green – No open positions
  • Green – A recruiter is chosen, and no more than two open positions
  • Yellow – Between Red & Green
  • Red – 10 positions unfilled

Hopefully, you are getting the idea.


Define Clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Now, let’s think about some key performance indicators we can put in place to support these priorities. Remember, priorities represent the work we do to grow or improve the performance of the organization, whereas KPIs represent the things we measure to drive behavior or monitor results. You can also refer to these as leading and lagging indicators.


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Examples of KPIs you might also develop and track to meet your priorities:

Total number of employees

  • Super Green – 325
  • Green – 300
  • Yellow – Between Red & Green
  • Red – 250 and having difficulty recruiting

Number of open positions 

  • Super Green – 20 employees on the hiring bench
  • Green – 0
  • Yellow – Between Red & Green
  • Red – 20 and having difficulty filling positions

Average time to fill open positions

  • Super Green – 5 days
  • Green – 7 days
  • Yellow – Between Red & Green
  • Red – > 15 days

Employee turnover

  • Super Green – 8%
  • Green – 10%
  • Yellow – Between Red & Green
  • Red – 20%

Number of “A” Players

  • Super Green – Path of progress developed for every employee to become an “A” player
  • Green – 90%
  • Yellow – Between Red & Green
  • Red – < 80%

Employee Health

  • Super Green – 50
  • Green – 30 NPS
  • Yellow – Between Red & Green
  • Red – <10


Of course, what you measure will vary based on your company's particular challenges or what you are trying to improve. Still, hopefully, these examples get your creative juices flowing. We usually recommend setting the KPIs and priorities .on a quarterly timeframe to manage them effectively.

As always, please let me know your thoughts, and good luck as you improve your employee retention, hiring, happiness, and performance. 



Download KPI Examples for Staffing To Help You Drive Growth


Learn more about setting goals, priorities, and KPIs in these articles:


Alan Gehringer


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images