Table of Contents
Table of Contents
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 seven stages: attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, separation, and advocacy. Understanding each stage will enhance the employee experience during the duration of an employee’s time at a company.
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Why HR Should Understand the Employee Lifecycle
As HR professionals it is important to understand the employee lifecycle so that we can understand employees’ needs and their employee experience – as those will change, depending on the stage 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.
- Employee Development. 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 seven stages of the employee lifecycle plays an important role in employee engagement, company culture, and team cohesion. We’ll cover each of these seven 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 incentivize 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 are 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 the things they look for most in their next job. Employees want to be challenged and have the opportunity to grow in their careers. 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 without any major disruptions. 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, remain positive, and ask 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.
Stage 7: Advocacy
Even when employees leave a company, they can still be invaluable supporters of the employer brand. Employees who have a good experience in an organization (especially when it comes time to leave) are far more likely to recommend that organization to friends or acquaintances who are looking for work. If, on the other hand, an employee’s exit experience is less-than-ideal, they have the potential to damage the brand and make future recruitment efforts less successful.
To promote employee advocacy, ensure that your people are able to leave the company without friction when the time comes. Then, stay in touch! When you’re looking for referrals to fill open positions, check back in with former employees. Hopefully, they’ll be more than happy to send top talent your way.
How To Design an Employee Lifecycle Strategy
After understanding the seven 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.
Step 1: 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?
Step 2: 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?
Step 3: 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.
Step 4: Review the Strategy
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.
Don’t try to do all of this yourself though. Keeping track of every employee’s stage in the employee lifecycle is time-consuming and difficult! Check out Eddy’s all-in-one HR suite to see how we can simplify your HR processes and make your job easier. Schedule a demo today
How to Utilize Feedback About Your Employee Lifecycle Strategy
As an HR pro or company leader, you do your best to ensure that every stage of the employee lifecycle is a good experience. However, you’ll never know for sure whether you’re succeeding just by observing employees. One great way to learn how the employee lifecycle is working at your organization is to go straight to the source. You can get employee feedback through surveys at various stages of the lifecycle.
Step 1: Choose Which Stages to Receive Feedback For
Now that you know the seven stages of the employee lifecycle, decide which stages you’d specifically like to receive feedback on and when you’ll ask for this feedback. Approaching this on a person-by-person basis won’t make your life easy. Instead, make a plan that will allow you to seamlessly receive feedback from every employee, no matter what stage they’re at.
Step 2: Send Out Surveys
Once the plan is in place, you’ll need to decide what type of surveys to send out and what you want to ask for feedback about. Here are just a few examples of surveys that employers find most helpful:
- Candidate reaction survey. Regardless of whether or not someone is hired for a position, you can send them a survey about their experience. This type of survey is most useful when candidates have participated in the hiring process in a meaningful way (at least one interview). The information candidates provide can help you improve recruitment processes for the next time you hire. Learn more about candidate surveys here
- Onboarding survey. Immediately after a new hire has been onboarded, send them a survey to find out how the onboarding process worked for them. Implementing this type of feedback can help you cut down on the time and cost of onboarding new employees, as well as help you establish a more consistent process. Learn more about onboarding surveys here
- Exit survey. If you want to hold onto your best people, it’s essential to know what factors are causing people to leave. By sending out an exit survey that collects quantifiable data (rather than answers to open-ended questions), you’ll learn how to improve retention at your organization. Learn about exit surveys and interviews here
Step 3: Implement Feedback
Once you’ve received feedback, work with company leadership to determine what changes to make. For example, if an employee says that onboarding felt long and directionless, you might work to redesign the onboarding process to take less time and involve more structured training. Employee lifecycle surveys are also a great starting point for determining what other feedback you should collect. Based on the results of your initial surveys, you may decide to send out a company-wide survey focused on DEI or another area your company could improve.
Metrics to Keep Track of Within the Employee Lifecycle
As your people progress through the employee lifecycle, you’ll want to ensure that their experience is enjoyable and productive (for both you and them). You can measure this using metrics. Let’s take a look at some of the best metrics to track at each stage of the employee lifecycle.
- Time to Hire. This metric measures how long it takes to hire someone. This shows the efficiency of your recruiting process—the lower the time to hire, the more efficient you are. Day candidate accepts offer – Day candidate applied = Time to hire. Learn more about time to hire here
- Offer Acceptance Rate. This allows you to see the number of candidates who accept a job offer compared to the number of offers sent out. To calculate, just divide the number of offers accepted by the number of offers given. Then, multiply by 100 to get a percentage. Learn more about offer acceptance rate here
- Cost to Hire. This metric shows the total cost of recruiting one person to the organization. (Internal recruiting costs + External recruiting costs) ÷ Total number of hires in a specific period of time = Cost to hire. Learn more about cost to hire here
- Productivity. There are actually lots of metrics that fall under the blanket of productivity. Here are just a few examples: projects completed, sales close rate, revenue per employee, and total cost of workforce.
- 360 feedback. This type of feedback doesn’t just come from the manager—it aims to give a full view of how the employee is performing. 360 feedback encompasses the perceptions of the employee themself, their direct reports, their peers, their boss, and (if applicable) those outside the company who work with them, such as customers. Learn more about 360 reviews here
- Promotion rates. To determine your company’s promotion rate, use this formula: Total number of promotions in a given timeframe / Number of employees = Promotion rate. Multiply by 100 to see the percentage of employees that have been promoted during that time.
- Employee Engagement. Engagement involves the emotional commitment an employee has to their company. When employees are engaged, they work more productively and remain at the organization longer. There are several ways to measure engagement, including surveys, one-on-one meetings, and analyzing turnover rate. Learn more about engagement rate here
- Turnover Rate. This is the rate at which people leave an organization. To calculate, choose a timeframe and divide the number of employee departures by the average number of employees during that time. Then multiply by 100 to see the percentage of employees who left the company in that time period. Learn more about turnover rate here
HR Technologies to Help With the Employee Lifecycle
Using technology during various phases of the employee lifecycle can benefit both employees and HR. On the employee side, their experience is smooth and stress-free. On the HR side, you can automate tasks that used to have to be done manually, giving you more time to pour into the people you work with.
Applicant Tracking System (ATS)
Since the first stage in the employee lifecycle is recruitment, the first HR software tool you’ll want to have is a good applicant tracking system, or ATS. An applicant tracking system streamlines the recruiting process. With an ATS, tasks that once had to be done by hand are automated, making it easier for the hiring team to keep candidate information organized. Many applicant tracking systems have these features:
- Scanning, sorting, and ranking resumes to filter out unqualified candidates early in the hiring process
- Posting jobs to multiple job boards at once
- Sending out automated emails and texts messages to keep candidates in the loop
While an ATS is a lifesaver for busy members of the hiring team, it’s also essential for creating a positive candidate experience. If job applicants see that you’re communicating with them and getting in touch quickly (whether you invite them for an interview or not), they’ll be far more likely to speak positively about your company in the future. And the person you eventually hire will go into work already trusting that they’ll have a good experience.
Onboarding is the next step after recruiting, and it’s one of the most critical stages of the employee lifecycle. Just as first impressions of people can be hard to shake, first impressions of a new workplace can leave a lasting influence on employees.
One way to make onboarding smoother for new hires is to use onboarding software. With a good onboarding software, new employees can fill out all the necessary paperwork… without paper. Being able to read through and sign documents online reduces stress for the employee, helping them adjust more quickly. Another benefit of onboarding software: HR can send welcome messages to new hires, making sure they feel valued and appreciated.
Employee Directory Software
Employee directory software keeps all employee information organized and secure. While some information can only be accessed by certain people (such as HR or management), most information is available for all to see. Being able to see the organization’s hierarchy and their coworker’s customized profiles helps employees feel empowered to work across departments. Employee directory software is a useful tool for tracking employee information as they develop and progress through different roles in the organization.
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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Employee Lifecycle
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.