Employee lifecycle

Seeing an employee’s career at a company as a journey can help HR leaders be more mindful of the challenges and changing needs of their teams every step of the way. That’s why employee lifecycle – a breakdown of a career path in an organization – is such a popular and widely used management tool. 

In this post, we will explore the meaning, importance, stages of employee lifecycles, and ways for HR managers to reap the benefits of each component. 

What is the employee lifecycle? 

The employee lifecycle (also written as life cycle) is a model that outlines the stages of a professional in a company. It helps talent managers support their employees from submitting a job application to their exit and provide programs that meet the needs specific for each component of the cycle. 

In remote and hybrid environments, leaders can use the model to make sure they don’t overlook people’s needs and take responsibility for people’s growth even though they do not share the same location. 

Why employee lifecycle is important

The employee life cycle model helps emphasize the need for custom-made programs for teammates in different stages of their careers. It helps HR leaders support employees more effectively, as well as create room for growth and continued learning. 

Here’s how implementing employee lifecycle into your decision-making helps improve retention, engagement, and productivity. 

  • Creating a standardized career ladder and giving teams a clear picture of their career prospects. That certainty reduces employee engagement and puts employees in charge of their careers.
  • Attracting top talent. The employee life cycle model encourages HR teams to pay extra attention to hiring and interacting with employees. Acknowledging the need for strategy for talent acquisition helps organizations raise brand awareness in the job market, expand the applicant pool, and find talent that matches brand culture. 
  • Organizing employee exit. Employee lifecycle promotes an end-to-end approach to talent management and makes sure that exit procedures are not neglected. Its principles remind talent managers of the importance of having a formalized exit procedure that will help stay on good terms with those leaving the organization. 
  • Adopting a unified playbook for handling onboarding, ensuring retention, and enabling career development. HR leaders can use the model to unify hiring, onboarding, retention, and career development practices across the company. 

Employee lifecycle stages

Most organizations define 6 stages of the employee lifecycle that map out an employee’s time at the organization from application to exit. Here are the definitions of each stage. 

Stage nameDescription
AttractionFirst point of contact between a potential candidate and the company
RecruitmentThe process of submitting an application, interviewing, and accepting the offer from an employer
OnboardingGetting to know the team and the project, learning best practices, navigating workplace technology, sharing personal data with relevant teams (accounting and HR)
RetentionStaying engaged and proactive during your tenure in the organization
Professional development Internal career growth, learning, and upskilling programs
ExitProtocols and practices that follow an employee’s decision to leave the company
Stages of employee lifecycle

Planning for each of these stages will help HR leaders build a resilient, resource-efficient, and people-centered talent management strategy. Let’s take a closer look at each component of the employee life cycle. 

#1. Attraction

Forward-facing organizations first interact with their future employees long before they submit a job application. Some companies have such a strong employee brand that people want to get a job there before they even get a college degree. Communication between the business and its potential team members is part of the attraction stage. 

For leaders, creating an allure around the brand is a powerful long-term investment. It allows them to have the upper hand in the job market and get access to top-tier talent. It makes employees more loyal to the company after they join it. 

A lot of things are part of being successful in employee attraction. In our experience, its success is built on the foundation of: 

  • Inspiring projects. A sense of purpose at work is one of the most important factors for choosing a future job. If a company successfully communicates the impact of its products, candidates will be more eager to apply. 
  • Freedom and autonomy. Companies like Spotify or Airbnb got huge employer brand boosts after openly advocating for remote work. Statistics show that employees care a lot about being able to freely manage their schedule, workplace, and workload so they will gravitate toward organizations that meet this need. 
  • Salary and benefits. Purpose and flexibility are important, but fair compensation is a crucial ingredient to high employee attractiveness. Brands like Google, Netflix, or McKinsey built their name around reliable paychecks and a strong sense of job security that appeals to candidates. 

#2. Recruitment

When candidates are compelled to consider the organization as the potential workplace, they enter the next stage of the employee lifecycle – recruitment. Finding a relevant job posting, sending an application process, and getting in touch with the HR team all fall under its umbrella. 

Leaders have to take recruitment seriously as it is a powerful filter for talent. If you set it up the wrong way, you will attract not the talent you need or spend too much time finding a fit for a job opening. 

As with most HR processes, modern-day recruitment is highly data-driven and can be a science of its own. That’s why there are few to no one-size-fits-all tips. However, here are a few broad-stroke practices that we’ve seen work for us and other teams. 

  • Be meticulous about job openings. Don’t ask candidates for qualifications you do not necessarily need – doing so is not “insurance”, it’s narrowing down your talent pool. 
  • Run social media ads to promote job adverts but monitor your budgets carefully. Not all promotion channels are equally effective so be sure to review campaigns regularly and let go of low-yield platforms. 
  • Simplify the application process. Don’t ask for unnecessary data. If you are hiring for low-supply high-demand positions, you can even drop the cover letter. Make the application process as frictionless as possible to maximize your chances. 
  • During the interview, give employees a feel of what working at the company is like. At oVIce, we achieve this by inviting candidates to our virtual office space and introducing them to the team and the brand. This way, potential employees can imagine and get attached to their workplace-to-be. 
  • When making an offer, be fast but don’t rush it. Finding the right candidate is a balancing act. While you don’t want to settle for someone who is not a fit, wait too long, and a good one will be off the market. As a rule of thumb, you can take 3-7 days to think about whether a candidate is a fit – any more than that, and the organization starts looking indecisive. 

3. Onboarding

After you hired a candidate, it’s time to get them up to speed, which falls into onboarding. Most companies have a standard onboarding checklist: documents to fill out, corporate accounts to set up, key project collaborators to connect with, and so on. 

The particulars of your onboarding workflow depend on the scope of the role you are onboarding, the size of the organization, and its work policy. Hybrid and remote organizations tend to struggle with onboarding more than fully in-office teams due to the lack of constant connection between the new hire and the rest of the team. 

As a fully remote team, we have developed a list of best onboarding practices and watched them work for other organizations as well. Here are the key points: 

  • Have a standardized procedure for onboarding: that will spare the HR team the need to reinvent the wheel. 
  • Create a buddy system: assign a mentor to each new hire. 
  • Use technology to your advantage: tools like virtual office platforms help break silos and close communication gaps in remote onboarding. 

4. Retention

Bringing top talent on board is a major milestone. It is equally important to retain skilled employees and keep them motivated, challenged, and inspired. 

Retention is one of the trickiest stages of the employee lifecycle because of how many moving parts it involves. Everyone in the organization: C-suite, middle managers, and teammates – is responsible for creating a nurturing environment. Here’s how leaders can go about creating a culture of retention: 

  • Ask first: run regular surveys to learn the team’s needs and wants. 
  • Be flexible: prioritize people over policy in your decision-making. 
  • Focus on connections and relationships. Few people are genuinely motivated by hitting the numbers and reaching milestones. Most are eager to work because of the people they respect and trust. Leaders should leverage this and help employees build long-lasting bonds through happy hours, room for casual conversations, and all-team retreats. 

5. Learning and development

If employees plan to commit to an organization long-term, they will want to be sure that there are opportunities for growth and development. Most people are anxious about their skills growing rusty or even becoming obsolete over time – leaders should acknowledge, validate, and address those anxieties. 

Here’s how companies can create opportunities for learning and development:

  • Create a career development plan for new hires and make sure you review their salaries regularly. 
  • Promote knowledge sharing by making peer project review a constant practice. Hosting internal workshops is another helpful opportunity for key knowledge holders to impart their expertise to teammates. 
  • Document processes and procedures so that every hire can learn them easily. 

6. Exit 

Even if an employee’s career was long and fulfilling, all good things must come to an end. Be it due to retirement, a change in circumstances, or a need for a new challenge, employee exits are inevitable, and leaders need to be prepared to let their teammates go. 

Here’s how you can gracefully wrap up an employee life cycle: 

  • Talk it out: set up a 1-on-1 chat to learn what motivated an employee to quit. 
  • Stay true to your promises: if a severance package or insurance were in the employment agreement, be sure to meet these expectations during an employee’s exit. 
  • Don’t make it personal: even if you are firing someone, draw a clear distinction between a mismatch on an organization-employee basis and the respect you have for each other as humans. 
  • Collect all data and disable corporate credentials to prevent confidential information from leaking post-exit. 

Employee lifecycle is a flexible and universal tool for HR leaders. It gives organizations a robust scaffold for designing employee experience, building employer brands, and making sure top-tier professionals stay brand advocates even after they leave the company.

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