Understanding and Improving the Employee Lifecycle - Engage Colleague

Understanding and Improving the Employee Lifecycle

24 Apr 2024, posted in

The Employee Lifecycle is a crucial concept in Human Resources, representing the employee journey within an organisation.

This article will delve into the intricacies of the employee lifecycle, its stages, and strategies to improve employee experience, engagement, and retention in the workplace.

Defining the Employee Lifecycle 

The Employee Lifecycle is a HR model that tracks the entire journey of an employee throughout their career lifetime with the organisation. It helps to identify steps in the employee experience and develop best practices for managing employees and shaping best practices for growth.

Professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Dave Ulrich first championed the Employee Lifecycle in a new approach towards HR. Ulrich expressed in his book, ‘Human Resource Champions’, that HR strategic planning time was not happening enough, and a shift from administrative tasks towards the entire employee journey was needed.

Jim Collins, the author of the book “Good to Great”, also contributed to the employee lifecycle development. Collins argued that great companies focus on crafting a vibrant culture and positive employee experiences. He identified the employee lifecycle as one of the most crucial factors of a great company culture. Josh Bersin, David Green, and Peter Cappelli further developed the employee lifecycle model, writing extensively about how businesses can use it to improve talent management practices. Today, the employee lifecycle model is a widely accepted concept in the HR field, with CIPD offering an online course in Employee Lifecycle Management.

The employee lifecycle model is a framework that evolves alongside the organisation and the employee, placing an emphasis on creating a positive employee experience throughout every stage. A key driver throughout every stage is employee engagement, which reduces turnover and boosts the reputation of an employer.

Improving turnover rates is a highly desirable goal of HR and people managers and often the mission when it comes to integrating the employee lifecycle into strategic HR planning. The cost of not focusing on retention within the organisation is visible in more ways than one – hitting the bottom line and employee morale. The total estimated replacement costs associated with employee turnover can be as high as 150%–200% of the employee’s annual salary. (Deloitte, 2015).

Stages of the Employee Lifecycle 

The employee lifecycle comprises various stages: attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and separation. Each stage has unique goals and activities aimed at different aspects of the employee experience.

‘Each stage presents its own challenges and opportunities, so it’s important to focus on them individually rather than one big, long journey.’ (Field, 2023).

How do we define each stage of the employee lifecycle? 

Attraction: Picture this – the brightest talents eyeing your brand and thinking, “That’s where I want to be!” How? By ensuring your brand story is genuine, purposeful, easily grasped, and relatable. By resonating with candidates’ values and ambitions and by speaking their language wherever they are. The attraction stage is not just the first step – it sets the scene for the entire employee journey.

Recruitment: When bringing aboard the next brand advocates and employee ambassadors it is about heart-to-heart alignment, like matchmaking based on shared values. There should be consistently diverse panels bringing different perspectives and gathering candid feedback. Setting up for success and satisfaction starts in this stage.

Onboarding: This is about rolling out the red carpet and making new starters feel warmly welcomed from the preboarding to the onboarding phase. Ideally, they’re thinking – “Best. Decision. Ever.” as their journey starts integrating into the team culture. They will receive thorough training, team introductions, and a heap of resources to support them, all to ensure they feel they belong. It can be the beginning of a mutual relationship-building phase that leads to brilliant teamwork.

Development: Enabling growth is like tending and nurturing seeds. Team members need readily available and inclusive development programs to flourish, mentors to guide, and ladders to climb. Supporting and facilitating growth requires fuelling employee passion and ambitions to keep them motivated and engaged in what they do.

Retention: In it for the long game! It’s about creating a workplace where employees feel at home, providing benefits and perks to reward great work and enhance wellbeing. Flexi-time? Tick. Career-boosting opportunities? Double-tick. With regular feedback sessions and recognition for a job well done. Employees who feel ongoing support that enhances their overall lives, not just within the workplace, with opportunities for feedback, are more likely to stay the distance.

Separation: When it’s time to part ways, doing it with grace and gratitude gives a much more positive experience for everyone involved. Employers who take the time to understand employees better as individuals can discuss future dreams and plans from day one. Normalising farewells will also make separation chats easier down the line. After all, even when they move on, they remain part of the company’s legacy and may even want to return or recommend a friend when a suitable role appears. A positive separation experience continues the momentum of brand advocacy, propelling the circle back towards the attraction stage.

Strategies for Improving Each Stage 

‘What organisations need to realise is that everyone in the company has set personal goals for themselves. Your company serves as a stepping stone toward the accomplishment of those goals. People will be motivated to stay if they see the organisation as a means to reaching their goals.’ (Newell, 2019).

Alignment of purpose and motivation from the beginning can lead to positive outcomes for both employer and employee. There needs to be a fine-tuning and alignment of strategy to real application in the employee world. This means elevating each phase of the employee lifecycle needs tailored approaches.

For instance:

  • With Attraction: Employer Branding: Regularly updating and refreshing the company’s online presence, including websites, social media, and reviews on platforms like Glassdoor. A study by Glassdoor found that 70% of job seekers look to company reviews and ratings before making career decisions and applications. This underlines the importance of a company’s online presence.
  • Engage in Thought Leadership: Regular seminars, webinars, and content creation can position your company as a leader in the industry. It can also give broader visibility of your leadership teams’ vision for the future – a vision that may be shared on social media and spread to new possible candidates.
  • Employee Testimonials: Showcasing real stories from employees to provide an authentic view of your company culture is highly valuable. According to LinkedIn, companies with strong employer branding see a 50% decrease in cost per hire.
  • With Recruitment: Diverse Hiring Panels: Ensuring panels represent various demographics and backgrounds. Why? McKinsey’s research shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability. Diversity in thought and experience brings innovation through alternative points of view and a wider collective pool of knowledge. Customers and clients are diverse so ensuring the internal staff reflects their diversity will bring the company closer to understanding their needs and desires.
  • Technology Integration: Use AI and analytics tools to ensure unbiased hiring processes. This can help to maintain consistency in policy, save time, and avoid the interjection of human bias in the hiring process.
  • Candidate Experience: A CareerBuilder survey found that 78% of candidates say the overall candidate experience they receive is an indicator of how a company values its people. Ensuring every touchpoint (interviews, communications, feedback) is timely, respectful, and transparent will contribute towards a culture which values its people.
  • With Onboarding: Buddy System: Assign new hires a “buddy” to help them navigate their first few weeks. A study from the TINYpulse platform found that peer relationships are a top factor for employee happiness.
  • Retention with Proper Onboarding: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) suggests that proper onboarding can help an organization increase retention by 82%. Proper onboarding begins with preboarding, the process of integrating into a new role before the first days and weeks from their official start date. It is about setting up new team members for success with all of the information, access, equipment, training, guidance, and social interactions they need to thrive within their new work environment.
  • Gamified Learning: Using gamification for training modules can make learning interactive, and fun, helping to maintain engagement, breaking up learning material and making it more memorable.
  • Feedback Loops: Establishing physical and digital channels for new hires to give feedback throughout their onboarding experience, will ensure continuous improvement for the employer.
  • With Development: Tailored Learning Paths: Personalise training based on individual goals and roles. Every individual is unique so requires personalisation in communication and developmental material which fits their needs.
  • Cross-functional Projects: Allow employees to work on diverse teams, enhancing their skill sets. Offering new avenues for development from inside the business and wider teams will not only upskill but will also improve relationships and productivity.
  • Regular Check-ins: Instead of just annual reviews, have quarterly or even monthly check-ins focused on development and growth. Gallup found that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
  • Training and Retention: According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.
  • With Retention: Employee Engagement: Gallup reports that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. Prioritising engagement at every stage of the employee lifecycle model will allow.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks. A study from IWG found that 80% of workers would choose a job that offered flexible working over a job that didn’t. Flexible working is now one of the top-requested perks of UK employees.
  • Employee Wellness Programs: Initiate programs focusing on mental, physical, and financial wellbeing. Financial wellbeing been in increasing demand throughout recent years – A PwC survey showed that 53% of employees are stressed about their finances. Financial issues surpassed all other sources of stress, including work, health, and relationships.
  • Open Communication Channels: Encourage open dialogue between management and staff, ensuring employees feel heard and valued. Having a technology platform – such as Engage Solutions Group, can help to create safe spaces where Employees can seek information personally, anonymously, with direct and instant securely delivered responses, or access information 24/7.
  • With Separation: Constructive Exit Interviews: Harvard Business Review suggests that exit interviews can be a gold mine of information for employee retention and improvement. Using the insights will gain focus on areas of improvement for the organisation.
  • Alumni Networks: Create networks for former employees, keeping the relationship positive and potentially re-hiring them in the future. According to the Corporate Executive Board, 50% of ex-employees speak highly of their former companies and are more likely to recommend its products.
  • Smooth Transition: Ensure that the departing employee has all the resources to wrap up projects and is celebrated for their contributions.

The Role of Feedback in the Employee Lifecycle 

Feedback plays a vital role in understanding and improving the employee lifecycle. It provides insights into the employee’s experience at each stage, helping the organization identify areas of improvement and implement effective strategies.

Employee engagement and productivity thrive on feedback, a fact that numerous studies underscore. According to Gallup, employees who consistently receive feedback tend to be more engaged. Even more impressive, when this feedback is centred on their strengths, there’s an 8.9% uptick in their productivity.

It’s not just about the performance boost; employees crave feedback. Particularly among millennials, this desire is pronounced. A survey by Betterworks reveals that 72% of millennial employees and 64% of employees across other generations wish for more regular performance insights.

OfficeVibe’s study goes further, indicating that 62% of employees could be significantly more engaged if their managers delivered regular and specific feedback. However, there’s a cautionary side to this narrative: around 40% of employees tend to feel disconnected when feedback is sparse or nonexistent.

The benefits of real-time feedback are manifold. As the Harvard Business Review outlines, immediate feedback acts as a rudder, steering individuals towards paths of continuous professional growth.

Leadership, too, has a stake in the feedback game. Research by Zenger/Folkman unveils a compelling correlation between leaders who actively seek feedback and their effectiveness. Leaders who are in the top 10% for soliciting feedback rank notably high in overall leadership capability.

Feedback, though, isn’t solely a tool for improvement. The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology suggests that aptly delivered feedback can boost an employee’s overall well-being, work satisfaction, and commitment to the organisation.

In the organisational landscape, trust forms the bedrock of cohesive teams. Studies by the NeuroLeadership Institute highlight the bond between a consistent feedback culture and building trust. When feedback becomes an ingrained practice and is shared openly, it fosters an environment of transparency and mutual trust.

The Impact of a Well-Managed Employee Lifecycle 

A well-managed employee lifecycle can improve engagement, retention, and productivity. It can also enhance reputation, making it an employer of choice for potential employees.

According to a Glassdoor survey, 84% of participants would consider leaving their current jobs if offered a role with a company with an excellent corporate reputation.

Employee advocacy is essential for attracting new hires and driving engagement around the employee lifecycle. For employers, meticulously managing the employee lifecycle isn’t just about individual growth; it’s a linchpin for organisational success and profitability. Such an approach creates a virtuous cycle where employees and the organisation mutually benefit and thrive.


Grasping and enhancing the employee lifecycle is essential to attain organisational success and employee engagement. Effective human capital practices, encompassing a well-managed employee lifecycle, can result in up to 90% greater net profit and more than 55% higher sales, according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

By focusing on each phase and applying effective strategies, we can elevate the employee experience, boost engagement, and enhance retention.

FAQ Section 

  • What are the 6 stages of the employee life cycle? The six stages of the employee lifecycle are attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and separation.
  • Why is it important to understand the employee life cycle? Understanding the employee lifecycle helps organisations identify key steps in the employee experience and develop best practices for managing employees.
  • How do you understand the employee lifecycle and different roles within it? The employee lifecycle represents the journey of an employee within an organisation, from attraction to separation. Each stage of the lifecycle plays a different role in shaping the employee’s experience.
  • What is the employee lifecycle process? The employee lifecycle process involves various stages, including attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and separation. Each stage has unique goals and activities aimed at different aspects of the employee’s experience.