Employee Lifecycle

Tanner Pierce, PHR

Table of Contents

The blood of a company is the employee lifecycle. In order for a company to be successful, and to take proper care of their employees, it is vital for them to understand each stage of the employee cycle. How to implement the employee lifecycle properly can be difficult. This article will provide a better understanding of the employee lifecycle as a whole, each stage of that cycle, and how to properly implement each stage.

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What Is the Employee Lifecycle?

The employee lifecycle is an organizational method used to visualize how an employee engages with the company they are part of. The employee lifecycle breaks down the entirety of an employee’s time with a company into six stages: attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention and separation. Understanding each stage will enhance the employee experience during the duration of an employee’s time at a company.

Why HR Should Understand the Employee Lifecycle

As HR professionals it is important to understand the employee lifecycle so that we can understand employee’s needs and their employee experience.  As those will change, depending on the cycle they are in.

  • Employee Engagement. Companies are often looking for ways to improve employee engagement. Only 36% of employees report that they were engaged in their work and workplace. Some issues that cause employee disengagement are lack of expectations, few opportunities for development and not being heard by the employer. Proper expectations can be set during the recruitment and onboarding stages. If you set expectations while recruiting someone to a job, and then relate those expectations during the onboarding process, then employees will have a better understanding of expectations. Development is another stage of the employee lifecycle. Every company should focus on how they are going to provide development opportunities to their employees. What kind of development is implemented should depend on the specific needs and wants of the employees.
  • Culture. Understanding the employee lifecycle can help create the kind of culture you want in your company. Each stage of the cycle will impact the employee in some way, so understanding the why behind each stage and determining how you want it to impact the employee can help instill your company culture in the employee. The amount of time and effort you put in each cycle stage can also show employees how much you care about their employee experience.
  • Team Cohesion. HR taking the time to understand the employee lifecycle gives them the insights they need to help other departments understand the importance of the employee lifecycle as well. The employee lifecycle should be directed and guided by the HR department, but other departments will often play roles in helping with stages of the employee lifecycle. HR needs to understand each cycle of the employee lifecycle so that they can explain to other departments what is needed to support that particular stage in the employee lifecycle.

Stages of the Employee Lifecycle

Each of the six stages of the employee lifecycle plays an important role in employee engagement, company culture and team cohesion. We’ll cover each of these six stages in greater detail below.

Stage 1: Attraction

The first stage in the employee lifecycle is attraction. This refers to a company’s plan to attract people to work for them. A company needs to understand how they are going to attract talent. Before a company understands how they are going to attract talent, they need to set goals on what they want to be known for and how they are going to stand out from other companies. Things such as brand awareness, company culture or company perks and benefits play a role in company attraction.

The marketing team can play a big role in helping the attraction side of the employee cycle. HR should sell these points when talking to candidates about their company. Attraction can be tracked based on likes on social media, how many views an article gets or even the amount of leads a job posting might get.

Stage 2: Recruitment

The second stage of the employee lifecycle is recruitment. This is the stage that is focused on bringing in talent to a company. After candidates have been attracted to your company, a company needs to have a recruitment plan. They need to ask themselves what kind of employees they want to recruit and how they are going to recruit them.

Ultimately, recruiting should be one of a company’s biggest focuses because recruiting brings in more talent and employees. Current employees should be relied on for referrals. Offering a referral bonus to current employees can incentivise this. A company should conduct research on where to find the kind of candidates they want. HR should have a recruiting plan, involve their employees and then track the success of their recruiting. Those measurements can include applications received, interviews done, offers given and job offers accepted.

Stage 3: Onboarding

After an employee has been hired, it is important for the HR team to ensure their onboarding process is as smooth as possible. It should be clear to the new employee when their first day is, what to expect of their first day and week, what kind of training there will be, the expectations of their role and what paperwork needs to be completed before starting work. A shocking 60% of employees decide after their first day if they are going to stay with a company.

The HR team should review the job description, the company’s vision and values and the expectations of the role with a new hire during the first day on the job. The HR team should also ensure that the new hire’s desk and equipment is all set up so that there are no hiccups on the first day. Additionally, plan for following up with an employee after they have started to make sure they are having a positive experience. The HR team can do this by receiving feedback through an onboarding survey.

Stage 4: Development

Many job-seekers list development and progression as one of things they look for most in their next job. Employees want to be challenged and have the opportunity to grow in their career. A company should set a clear plan for employees on how they can develop in their job. While some development might come from an employee’s self-motivation, a company should offer opportunities for development.

Some examples of development opportunities might include offering professional development classes as a company, reimbursing continuing education or crafting a career path outline for an employee when they start. Not every job will have a set path for development. It will depend on the job and industry. If possible, however, provide a path for career opportunities to an employee. Encouraging development through projects and assignments will also help an employee grow in their career and give them the fulfillment of development.

Stage 5: Retention

Retention focuses on how to keep employees with the company. This is where you can see the fruit of your labors from the four previous stages. If a company does a good job attracting, recruiting, onboarding and developing talent, then they are more likely to retain employees.

During this stage, it is important to understand what keeps employees from leaving. Every employee is different in this regard, so a company should take time to receive feedback from employees on what is important to them. You can do this through one-on-ones with managers or through surveys requesting feedback. Some things that might retain employees include pay, benefits, company culture, career opportunities and team morale. The feedback you get from past and current employees can help you understand what you are doing well to retain talent and what you need to improve in order to prevent more employees from leaving.

Stage 6: Separation

The final stage of the employee lifecycle is separation. Every employee will experience this with the company at some point. All the previous stages are to prevent this from happening, but ultimately there comes a time for an employee to leave a company. However, not all separations are bad. Some employees might leave because they decide to pursue a job in a different industry. Others might leave for a job that aligns more with their beliefs or for a better paying job that you as a company can’t offer right now.

Whatever the case, the HR team plays a vital role in ensuring each employee leaves with any major disruptions. A successful separation is one where the employee and the company leave on good terms, the employee still speaks highly of the company and the employee is grateful for their time with the company. This is not always easy to accomplish, but possible if you focus on understanding the reasoning behind the resignation, remaining positive and asking for honest feedback. When completing this stage, an exit interview should be completed by a member of the HR team if the separation is voluntary. If it is involuntary, the HR team should provide guidance to the manager on how to terminate the employee and be present when the termination takes place.

How To Form an Employee Lifecycle Strategy

After understanding the six stages of the employee lifecycle, the HR team should work together to come up with a strategy for how they want to implement the entirety of the employee lifecycle.

Set Goals

The first step of forming an employee lifecycle is outlining what you want to accomplish in each stage of the employee lifecycle. How do you want each stage of the employee lifecycle to look for your company? What do you want the employee to experience in each stage of their lifecycle with your company?

Define Each Lifecycle

The next step is to clearly define each lifecycle. What each stage looks like and means will be different for each company. What should an employee get out of each stage of the employee lifecycle?

Collaborate With Other Departments

After coming up with goals and defining each lifecycle, the HR department needs to figure out what help and support they will need from other departments to be successful in implementing each lifecycle stage.


Review the strategy after it has been formed, as well as after it has been implemented. Getting feedback from employees on the employee lifecycle will be more helpful than anything else.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Employee Lifecycle

Some popular employee lifecycle tools companies use are Criterion, GoCo, PDS, Qualtrics, and SutiHR.
A strategy sets clear expectations and makes an employee’s time with a company as smooth as possible. It also makes reviewing an employee’s experience with a company easier to review because you can look at it stage by stage.
Tanner Pierce, PHR

Tanner has over 4 years of HR professional experience in various fields of HR. He has experience in hiring, recruiting, employment law, unemployment, onboarding, outboarding, and training to name a few. Most of his experience comes from working in the Professional Employer and Staffing Industries. He has a passion for putting people in the best position to succeed and really tries to understand the different backgrounds people come from.

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