How to Set Achievable Staffing Goals in 2024

White notebook with the word "Goals" written on the front

Growing your business often starts with growing your staff. If you want to do this, you must create and work toward strategic staffing goals that align with your future business objectives.

Is your business on track to meet its next set of hiring goals? More importantly, do you have a clear set of hiring goals?

Whether you are looking to hire five new full-time employees, start to utilize freelancers, or add contract-to-hire positions to your workforce structure, it can be overwhelming to put together a staffing plan to meet those goals.

You do not have to go at it alone. We have compiled our best tips for aligning your recruitment initiatives to meet your hiring goals this quarter and beyond.

Start With Your Overall Business Objectives

The key to strategic workforce planning is aligning your recruitment goals and objectives with those of the whole organization. A misalignment will make it incredibly difficult to achieve your business growth goals in a predictable and timely manner. Why? Your people are the core of your organization. Without enough staff members who possess the right depth and breadth of skills and experience, it is hard enough to complete your current workload and processes — much less work towards future ones.

So, a great starting point for developing a strategic staffing plan is reflecting on your organization’s business plan. This should include short-term and long-term goals for the company, such as expanding into a different territory, launching a new product line, or improving customer satisfaction scores.

For example, let’s say your number one business goal is to expand your product offerings into a new territory. You will need additional production staff, salespeople, and customer service specialists to bring your products into a new market. Without them, your product expansion likely will not go very smoothly because you will not have enough manpower to handle that increased volume.

Perform an Audit of Your Current Workforce

Before you can think about the future of your workforce, you need to understand where it currently stands and what gaps exist between where you are and where you want it to be. Similarly, you can only set achievable staffing goals if you know where that growth is needed. 

That is why it is necessary to assess the current state of your staff before determining where it needs to be. Look at the complete picture: what roles are already filled, what current positions are vacant, and what new positions might you need to meet those future business objectives?

To illustrate, let us go back to our previous expansion example. Suppose you conclude in your workforce audit that your current production team is overstaffed. In that case, consider moving some of those employees to the team handling production for your new territory. On the other hand, if you find you are already understaffed in salespeople, you will know that you need to make new hires in that area before you can successfully expand.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Are there departments struggling to complete their workload due to understaffing? You probably need to make new hires there.
  • Is a certain team overstaffed? Perhaps you could rearrange team structures to distribute the workload more equally.
  • Are there unfilled management roles or other high-level positions? Consider if there are current employees who could be promoted from within or if you need to make those hires externally.
  • Additionally, think about succession planning: are there current high-performing staff members who could be moved up to leadership roles? If they are promoted, will you need to fill their previous position, or can their responsibilities be dispersed to other team members?

It is essential to answer these questions so you can form a hiring strategy that makes it possible to achieve the overall business growth goals you are considering.

Forecast Staffing Needs

Armed with a better understanding of your current workforce, it’s time to forecast your future staffing needs. 

Begin by defining the factors that influence your staffing needs. Do you need to hire because the company is growing quickly? Are you in a line of business that makes a lot of seasonal hires? Are your staffing needs dictated primarily by client activity/workloads or by something specific to the company, like new product releases?

Once you’ve outlined these factors, you can make intelligent predictions about what will happen with them in the next six to twelve months. This will give you a good idea of the roles you’ll need to hire for. 

For example, if you’re in a business where staff workloads depend on your list of client accounts and you’re about to land a substantial new client, you have some immediate hiring needs. Or, if you have a new product release imminent next quarter, there are likely some roles you should be sourcing for right now.

Next, look at your historical data for clues of what’s to come. Seasonal trends like peak hiring periods and turnover rates for specific roles can inform your approach. You can also factor in historic hiring metrics like time to fill to help you decide when to begin sourcing candidates. 

Technology is also an excellent forecasting resource. Intelligent staffing tools can make highly accurate predictions about the probable number of hires you’ll need to make and can even drill down into the skills you’re most likely to need. 

Outline S.M.A.R.T Staffing Goals

Now that you have determined where your workforce currently stands and where you want it to go, it is time to create the hiring goals to help you close any gaps between the two. 

For example, if your main goal is expanding your customer service department, how many employees do you need to bring on to meet the volume of calls you receive? What skills, experience, and personality traits should employees in those roles have? The answers to these questions will help you write the job description for open positions, determine a hiring budget, and prioritize what roles must be filled first.

Setting goals can be an overwhelming process — you don’t want to set an impossible objective and be disappointed when you can’t meet it, but you don’t want to aim too low and remain stagnant, either.

Therefore, we recommend using the S.M.A.R.T. method when setting your recruitment goals and objectives. This memorable acronym and widely used strategy outlines goal-setting criteria to help improve the chances of accomplishing any given business objective. It states you should make goals that are:


Do not set arbitrary, generic goals — be specific about what you want to accomplish. For example, a goal to improve your customer service is not specific. Instead, form a goal, such as “Hire three customer service specialists with XYZ skills to boost capacity when it comes to handling customer service inquiries.”


You need to identify the metrics you will use to determine if you are meeting or falling short of your goal. This makes achieving a goal more tangible because it provides a concrete way to measure progress. For example, measuring how you have improved your customer experience would be tough — that could mean anything. The goal of “Increasing the average response score on our annual customer service survey from 7 to 9” is a measurable metric.


Your recruitment goals and objectives are meant to inspire and motivate your team to bring in successful new employees who are aligned with your business goals and can help you achieve them. On the other hand, if your hiring goals are so far-fetched that you will never be able to meet them, that inspiration can quickly turn into discouragement. For example, if you currently have a 30-person staff, a goal for hiring 100 new employees in the next six months may not be realistic — and likely is not aligned with your capacity needs and budget.


This means creating staff growth goals that actually fit into your broader business goals. For example, if one of your objectives is to scale back the production of an item that could be performing better on the market, it would not make sense to have a goal of hiring additional production staff. 

Instead, you may hire additional customer service representatives to handle customer feedback or a higher volume of return requests or research and development specialists to start brainstorming a new product to replace it.


Providing a target date for achieving your goals is important because it keeps everyone on track and creates a sense of urgency, but it can do more harm than good if it is unrealistic. For example, people will probably forget about a 10-year goal, but if you expect a huge goal to be met tomorrow, it will create an overwhelming sense of panic amongst your current staff. 

We recommend setting check-ins along the way to benchmark success — for a six-month goal; you may want to evaluate where you are at two and four months before a final evaluation at six months.

Examples of Achievable Staffing Goals

Here are some examples of staffing goals that meet the SMART criteria we outlined above. 

1. Increase new hire retention by 20% in the next 12 months

Not only is this goal specific, but it’s timelined, easy to measure, and can positively impact numerous aspects of a company’s operations. Boosting new hire retention reduces the costs that stem from repeat hires, improves ROI on training and development, and prevents team disruption that can be caused by high turnover. 

2. Strengthen the company’s artificial intelligence skills

In this case, artificial intelligence is an arbitrary example. It could be replaced with any skill set you’re looking to bolster in your workforce, provided that it supports the organization’s broader goals. 

Clearly defining your skill needs aids in hiring because it helps you refine your job descriptions and zero in on relevant experience when screening applicants. It also helps you prioritize the most beneficial training and development initiatives for existing employees. 

3. Improve succession planning by identifying internal talent for key leadership roles

This objective benefits both the company and its employees, which is the best type of staffing goal. By prioritizing succession planning, the company promotes its own future stability and longevity while engaging and retaining top performers and providing an enticing value proposition to prospective applicants.

This goal can be measured with various recruitment metrics, including the number of internal promotions and long-term retention rate. 

Get Buy-In On Those Hiring Goals

Once you have set your hiring goals, it can be challenging to implement and carry out a strategic staffing plan if you do not have buy-in from all key decision-makers. 

Clearly outline and share your goals, their reasons, and how you will achieve them. These goals should include everyone involved in the hiring process and should be established before you start recruiting. This includes timelines, budget, the number of new hires you want, and how to recruit them. This will help save you from any confusion or miscommunication later in the process.

Start Recruiting

You have reflected on your business objectives, established the hires you need to make to achieve them, and secured buy-in from key decision-makers on those hiring goals. Now, you are ready to go out and actually start filling those positions! How?

Use creative recruitment strategies

Posting a job description and then simply sitting back and waiting for the applicants to roll in is no longer enough to attract top-tier talent in today’s competitive job market. 

Turning to more creative recruitment strategies such as advertising the unique employee perks you offer, showing off your unique company culture to candidates, and hiring for potential over experience are just some of the ways you can attract highly qualified candidates who are also a fit cu

Evaluate and adjust when needed

Using the S.M.A.R.T. goals method makes it easier to conduct strategic workforce planning and set achievable hiring goals. Remember that the business world is consistently changing due to the economy and the industry in which you reside. Your recruitment goals and objectives may need to be adjusted along the way or changed altogether.

A solid staff growth plan is all about being proactive. If you are not prepared for change, it is easy to fall back on a reactive approach if something is switched in the middle of your plan — which is often based on emotion and not what is best for your business. 

So, it is important to continuously evaluate the state of your competitors, technology in your industry, and your own business operations to confirm that you are on the right path to achieving your goals. If your goals need revising, do not fret — go back to step one, reconsider those business goals, and align your updated hiring strategy to fit with any changes.

Turn to professionals for additional support

Suppose you need more time or resources in-house to meet your hiring goals. In that case, if it is taking you too long to find and place the right candidates, or you are experiencing high turnover, it may be time to turn to a professional staffing agency or a headhunter. 

Professional recruiters and headhunters can help you overcome your workforce planning issues — so if you are unsure what your strategic staffing plan should be or you are having a hard time sticking to the one you have created, they can help. Whether that means starting from scratch or adjusting the strategy you are currently following, a professional staffing agency can help you form, stick to, and carry out a well-informed and strategic staffing plan.

Meet Your Staffing Goals By Partnering With a Recruiting Firm 

Partnering with the right professional recruiting agency or headhunter is your key to identifying the right strategic staffing goals and then meeting them. Working with a company like 4 Corner Resources (4CR) as part of your recruitment strategy frees up your time to focus on the “big picture” of your company’s core mission and business objectives. At the same time, we handle front-end recruiting tasks such as sourcing and screening candidates.

The team at 4CR works hand-in-hand with our clients to uncover their deeper hiring needs and effectively fill their vacant positions. As part of our recruitment strategy, we keep a variety of factors in mind — your time frame, goals, and the culture fit of each candidate — before placing them in your company.

Contact our team experts today to see how 4CR can help you form strategic staffing goals and meet them by placing the best candidates with your business.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn