How to successfully manage your employee lifecycle

Do you have an employee lifecycle model for your organization? Ignoring the employee lifecycle is a missed opportunity. It’s a goldmine for attracting top performers, boosting productivity, and creating a happier workforce.

That’s because it’s crucial to consider the employee journey, from attracting a qualified candidate to encouraging brand advocacy after they’ve moved on (hopefully to greener pastures). The employee lifecycle has various stages, including onboarding, development, and retention.

If you nail your employee lifecycle, your entire organization will benefit. Conversely, you risk ruining your company culture if you treat your employee lifecycle haphazardly (or don’t include one). This is due to low employee engagement and poor candidate experiences.

Your HR team should always remain aware of the employee experience – and that goes beyond taking care of new employees. Consider the needs of team members who have been with you for quite some time, as they’re still part of your employee lifecycle. A Gartner study found that only 13% of employees are fully satisfied with their experience at work. So, there’s likely plenty of room for improvement.

Yet, there’s much to know about employee lifecycle management, especially if you want to do it right. That’s why I put together this guide that teaches you everything you need to know about managing your employee lifecycle, so stay tuned.

Understanding the Employee Lifecycle

Every employee goes on an extraordinary journey, beginning before they start a new role at your organization – and even before the interview process. Instead, the employee lifecycle starts when they know your company exists. It ends after the employee leaves to pursue other opportunities (or retire).

The employee lifecycle model breaks down this journey into multiple stages to make it easily digestible for HR professionals. That way, you can tweak and perfect each stage to ensure a top-tier employee experience – how your employees respond to your lifecycle.

The employee lifecycle model was inspired by customer journey mapping, a widespread marketing practice that outlines every touchpoint customers have with a brand. The idea is the same, although you’re mapping your employees’ journey instead. The reason for the model is to identify the varying needs of employees at different stages of the lifecycle.

For instance, new hires will have different needs than current employees who have a few years under their belt. While your new hires will require lots of attention during onboarding, your more seasoned staff will need honest feedback and employee development opportunities.

Your HR team must consider all the stages of the employee life cycle model to ensure a positive experience for everyone who works at your organization. Accordingly, your employee lifecycle will inform essential policies and procedures related to productivity, employee engagement, onboarding, offboarding, and more.

For example, you may discover that your veteran team members lack employee recognition and feedback, causing you to implement more frequent check-ins and ways to appreciate your employees – such as providing monetary incentives for better performance.

Why the Employee Lifecycle Matters

If you’ve never used the employee lifecycle model, you may wonder if it’s worth it. After all, if you’re happy with your organization’s status quo, why try to fix something that isn’t broken?

Well, you need to consider the needs of employees at different stages of your lifecycle to avoid problems you know about. While you may feel that you’re humming along just fine, employee retention and recruitment issues are bubbling up beneath the surface.

There’s never any downside to improving your employee experience, but there are many benefits, so let’s look at each one.

Better Employee Experience

As stated in the intro, a surprisingly small minority of employees are satisfied with their work experience (13%). The reason for this varies wildly, from a lack of employee feedback to next-to-no professional development opportunities.

Yet, the one surefire way to improve your employee experience is to map out your employee lifecycle and closely analyze each stage. This will help you pinpoint your top areas for improvement, which is the first step toward providing a more positive experience for your team.

For instance, there may be a particular phase of the employee life cycle where you’re having the most trouble, such as the recruitment stage. It could be that your current employees are happy as a clam, but your new hires are struggling from their very first day.

You have genuine incentives to improve your employee experience, as employees who report a positive experience are 16 times more engaged than those who do not. Also, positive employee experiences will reflect well on your employer brand, making attracting top talent easier.

Better Employee Performance and Boosted Productivity

Improving your employee lifecycle will enhance job satisfaction rates for your employees, yielding many benefits. In particular, you’ll see spikes in productivity and employee performance. As long as your lifecycle strategy includes employees at all stages, you should see an organization-wide improvement in productivity.

Whenever organizations focus on their staff’s well-being by providing a desirable work-life balance, evidence shows that 63% of employees are more willing to go above and beyond with their work. This will also reduce employee turnover, as engaged, productive employees are less likely to quit.

Analyzing your employee lifecycle will help you uncover the most effective ways to motivate your employees through initiatives like training, bonuses, and a hybrid work environment (i.e., giving them the option to work from home occasionally).

Enjoy Better Retention Rates

Analyzing your onboarding stage will help you provide a desirable experience for new hires, reducing turnover. Retaining employees is a challenge every organization faces, regardless of industry or size. You’ll struggle during the retention stage if you can’t cater to your employees’ wants and needs.

However, identifying that you have a problem is always the first step. Once you’re aware of it, you can improve your retention by improving the hiring process, conducting exit interviews (to determine why staff are leaving), and ensuring that you consistently engage with and appreciate your employees.

The 7 Stages of the Employee Lifecycle

The stages of the employee lifecycle will vary from organization to organization, as every model is different. While some models stick to 5 stages, the 7 stage model is superior because it includes the awareness and advocacy stages.

Here’s a quick look at each stage and the types of insights they provide.

The Attract Stage

The employee lifecycle begins when potential candidates discover your employer brand exists. This is more of a marketing phase, as it provides better insights on attracting top candidates. Evidence shows that 3 out of 4 job seekers will apply to organizations that actively manage their employer brand. That means using social media and other channels to let your prospects know what working at your organization is like.

Do your best to show off your company culture and any noticeable perks associated with working for you (hybrid schedules, company car, company values, etc.). If your human resources department has the resources and time, you will benefit from content marketing efforts – such as releasing blogs and videos showing off what it’s like to work for you. You should also pay attention to the job descriptions that receive the most applications.

How do you do that?

One way is to implement another popular marketing tactic: A/B testing. First, you release a few variations for each job description, altering each one in different ways (such as one that harps on benefits, one that’s more focused on responsibilities, etc.). After that, use an applicant tracking system or HRIS (human resources information system) software to analyze your metrics.

In particular, pay attention to how many applications each variation of the job description received. The one that garnered the most applications is the most valuable, so you should go with it. This will explain the most critical factors top talent looks for in a new job.

The Recruitment Stage

At this point, your prospects have applied to your open positions, and it’s time to conduct interviews. Recruiting includes the applying, interviewing, and hiring phases – and a lot can go wrong during each phase – so it’s crucial to analyze this stage.

In particular, you’ll want to focus on providing a stellar candidate experience. One way to do so is to streamline the application process so that it doesn’t include time-consuming, unnecessary information. It would be best if you also remained transparent with your new hires. A guaranteed way to wreck your reputation is to make false promises to attract candidates, only for them to leave once they realize they’ve been lied to.

The Onboarding Stage

A poor onboarding experience is a recipe for disaster, but if you nail it, evidence shows you’ll boost the retention rates for new hires by 82%. The onboarding stage is vast, as you must get new employees up to speed with the software, processes, and tasks they’ll deal with daily. New hires require a lot of attention during this phase. Because they’re brand-new and will need assistance to do just about anything. You’ll be good to go as long as you design your onboarding process to set up your new recruits for success.

Also, remember the preboarding phase, which occurs from when a new hire accepts a position to their first day. This can sometimes encompass several days, weeks, or months. During this time, staying in touch with your new employees is essential. Let them know how excited you are about them joining the team. Make it easy for your new hires to contact you during the preboarding phase should they have any questions or concerns.

The Development Stage

It’s one thing to teach a new hire how to do their current job. It’s another to develop them into a more complete professional. Enter the development stage, where you build up your new recruits so that they learn new skills, perfect their existing ones, and take on new responsibilities.

To find the most success, the professional development of each employee should be involved and ongoing. Regular check-ins with managers are necessary, as are action plans and performance reviews.

The Retention Stage

At this point, you’ve built up your employees into lean, mean, professional machines. The challenge then becomes convincing them to stay at your organization instead of lending their talents elsewhere. This can be easier said than done.

You’ve invested time and energy into these team members, so keeping them on board is worth trying. Engagement surveys will help you gauge the level of interest your seasoned employees have in staying. Remember to make use of them.

The Exit Stage

Nothing lasts forever; some of your employees will inevitably ride off into the sunset.

There are countless reasons why an employee might leave, including:

  • Retirement
  • Their health
  • To pursue opportunities elsewhere
  • Returning to school

As an employer, the best thing you can do is conduct exit interviews to acquire honest feedback from employees soon to leave your organization.

The Advocacy Stage

If you’ve crafted your employee lifecycle correctly, anyone who leaves should become a loyal brand ambassador.

What does that mean?

A brand ambassador actively encourages others to A) work for your organization or B) use your products and services. Investing in a positive experience from onboarding to offboarding can transform departing employees into vocal advocates for your company. Happy ex-employees become your best recruiters, singing your praises and attracting top talent.

Final Thoughts: The Employee Lifecycle

Those are the stages of the employee lifecycle; paying attention to each stage is crucial. An employee lifecycle model will help you develop integral policies when done right. It will boost your team’s productivity and provide a positive employee experience that will attract top talent via referrals.