10 Work Goals That Help New Hires Hit the Ground Running

Illustration of a woman running along a winding path with blue flags along the way

Have you ever worked at a company that delighted you from day one? That’s the power of a successful onboarding strategy. An essential piece of a successful onboarding puzzle is setting early goals for a smooth introduction to your organization and a successful ramp-up.

According to our research, a little extra support goes a long way for a new fish in the pond. Many people prefer well-rounded onboarding processes that include social interaction, direction, and training, cultivating a sense of purpose and belonging right from the beginning, and setting goals can help you employees achieve that.

The ideal program provides a guided pathway that helps employees get oriented with their new role, feel like contributing team members, and celebrate wins. And since 70% of new hires can tell if a job is a good fit within the first month, the steps you take today can make a big difference in your employee turnover rate tomorrow.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the employee goals that should be part of your new hire program and how to set realistic milestones for new hires. If you’re ready to really elevate your onboarding program and goal setting, explore how BambooHR helps organizations create better first impressions through our innovative onboarding solution.

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Why Are Work Goals Important for New Hires?

Setting goals creates a roadmap of expectations for new hires. Thoughtful and clear objectives help new employees better understand their role, learn essential responsibilities, and make valuable connections across your company.

An investment in your workforce is an investment in your business, and a career development program based on thoughtful goals is foundational to a successful organization. Intentional goals support employee growth and incentivize people to do well, which builds better business value and resilience.

10 Work Goals for New Employees

How do you design a goal-setting strategy for your organization? Start by thinking about what’s appropriate for your business or industry and each employee’s job type and level of seniority. New employee goals won’t be the same across the board. They should be carefully tailored for each role. For example, the milestones for a corporate marketer with 10 years of experience will differ from the goals for a sales rep who’s just learning the ropes.

To get started, we’ve crafted some work goal examples that can be used as a basis for your program.

3 Examples of Performance Goals for Work

Performance objectives focus on specific outcomes. These short-term goals tend to be task-oriented and tied to metrics, which are crucial for evaluating an employee's performance. Three types of performance goals include:

Efficiency-Based Goals

Efficiency-based goals optimize productivity. These guideposts help employees figure out how to become more strategic with their time, resources, capital, and labor without sacrificing quality.

For example, an efficiency-based goal for a digital marketer may be to improve campaign ROI by 15%. Think about how you can improve an existing process to help streamline performance and cultivate a more economical workforce.

Productivity-Based Goals

Production goals prioritize output, benchmarking the number of units produced in a given timeframe. They help new employees learn how to perform their roles well and support long-term organizational health.

For a new employee, consider how much they can reasonably accomplish in week one vs. week 12. A novice copywriter could be tasked with producing three product descriptions per hour, gradually increasing that number to help keep pace with more experienced colleagues.

Revenue-Based Goals

Revenue-based goals highlight financial targets. Easy to track and measure, these goals help new employees visualize how their actions translate to monetary value and find ways to become more profitable additions to the company.

Many businesses set monthly, quarterly, or yearly revenue goals for new and existing employees. A revenue-based goal for a customer service rep may be to increase monthly sales revenue by $3,000.

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3 Examples of Development Goals for Work

Going hand-in-hand with performance goals, workplace development goals focus on long-term objectives. They typically tie into the soft skills an employee needs to feel empowered in their role and career. Here are three common development goals:

Improve an Existing Skill

New employees come to your organization with a variety of skill sets. Whether it’s improving communication or technical expertise, this kind of professional development can be a highly rewarding journey that leads to greater job fulfillment and earning potential.

Keep in mind that skill-building goals should correlate to an individual’s career path. For example, a software engineer can improve on their skills with a particular computer program or coding language to help themselves (and your organization) sharpen their competitive edge.

Learn a New Skill

Learning new skills is a great way for employees to gain more confidence on the job, mentally prepare for a new task, and become better leaders. And tying professional goals to fresh skills can inspire people to keep learning more.

These development goals can support some of the things your employees already do. For instance, an accountant could learn public speaking skills for an upcoming presentation or a construction manager can master a new technical aspect of their work.

Prepare for Career Development

Career development goals should link to an employee’s trajectory with your company. They can lead to more responsibilities, future promotions, and alternative pathways that will help their career grow long term.

For instance, learning how to delegate work to an intern is a solid goal for any employee who wants to explore their managerial skills and prepare for future leadership opportunities.

4 Examples of SMART Goals Examples for Work

Many companies use the SMART methodology to create a realistic blueprint that's broken down into actionable steps.

Developed by George T. Doran in 1981, this time-tested system is great for setting both short- and long-term goals, tracking progress, and celebrating personal wins. SMART goals are:

Using the acronym, let’s outline the goal framework for Amalia, a new employee at a tech startup:

S pecific and M easurable

Setting specific, measurable goals that lead to targeted outcomes helps new employees ease into their roles. Clearly defining an objective helps you create a roadmap for achievement, and associating them with quantifiable metrics makes it easy to gauge how much headway you’ve made at any given point.


Amalia’s SMART goal should be something that helps her get started on the right foot. Our objective might be for her to complete three online training sessions. This is a distinct outcome that’s easily measured.

A chievable

Before setting goals for new employees, ask yourself: “Is it realistic?” A core feature of the SMART goal system is that your objectives are achievable. This is especially important for new hires who are getting a sense of what’s expected of them at your company through your performance goal program.

In the last example, Amalia must do three sessions. She may need to participate in 15 total during her first few months, but three is a realistic starting point, especially as she’s also learning a host of other things about the company as a new hire.

R elevant

Relevant goals pertain to the individual and their unique needs. Think about the tasks that align most with their role and what they need to fill their toolbox as they begin this journey with your company.

Aligning Amalia’s SMART goals with the organization’s new-hire onboarding program is very relevant. Our SMART goals don’t have to add to an already full plate—they can be a means for helping Amalia polish off her initial to-do list. And having her complete the training sessions is an easy ask because she’ll need to do it anyway as a new employee.

T ime-Bound

Time-bound goals have clear endpoints. Using a given timeframe, new hires can figure out how to manage their schedule effectively and remain motivated to succeed. On the other hand, it also helps management benchmark their performance.

For our example, let’s say her deadline is 30 days. Once Amalia’s reached that point, we should be able to see if she was ahead of schedule, behind schedule, or right on target.

Now, we have a cohesive SMART goal to present to our new hire: Complete three online training sessions within their first 30 days with the company. For Amalia, this may coincide with other smart goals, such as:

Establish an Employee Goal-Setting Program

With an employee goal-setting program, you can ensure new hires (and other employees!) have what they need to succeed and reach their full potential. A successful program not only offers opportunities but also makes room for regular feedback and kudos to keep it going strong.

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