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Employee Lifecycle Stages: What Are They & Why They Matter

If you work in management or human resources, you’ve likely heard of the employee life cycle. But do you know how it could affect your company? Using the employee life cycle to your advantage can improve your workplace culture and help secure the best workers in the field.

By taking advantage of this cycle to recruit and retain employees, you can create a better workplace while improving your revenue. This article will explain everything you need to know about the employee life cycle and how to best use it in your business.

What Is The Employee Life Cycle?

The employee life cycle is a model that shows the common course an employee takes in the workplace. The average person switches jobs 12 times throughout their career. The cycle shows their evolution in each job, as well as how employers get new workers to replace them. 

There are different variations of the employee life cycle, each with similar elements. In this article, you’ll examine one of the most popular models in depth. It has six stages (more on that below), which cover a worker’s evolution in a company. The model accounts for a cycle without personal or professional interference, such as early termination or resignation due to unexpected life events.

Here are the six stages of the employee life cycle and how each plays a part in your business’ success.

What Are the Stages of the Employee Life Cycle Model?

There are six stages of an employee’s life cycle: attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and separation. Each stage represents a point of employee growth from the time you seek them out to when they decide to exit the company.

At any time in your workplace, there are employees at each stage of the life cycle. It’s beneficial to your business to know where each person is and focus on how you can meet their needs throughout the life cycle. Working with them at each stage can help secure their longevity and introduce new staff members as your workplace evolves.

Like a human or animal life cycle, every employee starts new to your world and has to grow and establish themselves. So, read on to explore the employee life cycle.

1. Attraction (Get New Turtles to Your Water)

The first step of the employee life cycle is attracting new applicants to your company. What can you do to make your business stand out among the rest and get fresh, experienced workers to focus on your brand?

When sea turtles lay their eggs, they bury them in the sand and leave them. Once the eggs hatch, the new tiny turtles desperately have to find their way to the water to survive. If you’ve ever seen the process, it can be both adorable and terrifying.

These seemingly lost little turtles are like potential employees—recent college graduates or professionals looking for a new direction. When baby turtles look at the ocean of your industry, encourage them to visit your section of the shore.

Help Them Find You

According to a recent study, around 50% of applications come from job boards, with more than 90% of employers utilizing digital platforms to find new staff members. Encourage potential candidates to explore your job listings and try to be the latest member of your team. There are many ways to do this, including making yourself known.

Post your listings on multiple sites and mediums, such as universal and industry-specific job boards and social media. Popular job sites include Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and FlexJobs. Once you create a profile, you can post your vacancies for a wide pool of candidates to view. 

Once you get people viewing your listings, you need to ensure they are tempted by what you offer them.

Give Them Security

It’s necessary to provide competitive compensation. No one will want to work for your company if they can find an equivalent position at a competitor that pays more.

That’s not to say that pay shouldn’t increase based on experience and skills. Allowing applicants to negotiate their salary is a great tool to learn about potential assets to your business. The more freedom employees feel, the happier they will likely be working for you. 

There are other ways to attract employees to your company. Competitive benefits packages can go a long way in helping them feel secure. A good number of sick and vacation days—as well as medical, dental, and vision insurance—can also take a load off many employees’ backs.

Be Honest

Promote what people could receive by staying and advancing within your company. In the description of your job listing, let potential applicants know they have the opportunity for promotions, bonuses, and awards throughout their time there.

Organize your listing so it’s easy to read and understand. With all the information, you should get some applicants interested in your part of the ocean. Once you have interest, you’ll see applications floating in.

Pro Tip: Want some great employee appreciation ideas? Check out our list: The 43 Best Employee Appreciation Ideas by Industry

2. Recruitment (Penguin Dating)

A good job application is like a beautiful rock. That’ll make more sense in a minute.

When a penguin wants another penguin to be their life partner, one of the things they’ll do is present them with a nice pebble. It’s kind of the same concept as an engagement ring but with penguins. Sometimes, multiple penguins compete over a single one, with more than one suitor presenting pebbles to choose from.

Once a penguin decides who is the right fit, they and their partner work to increase their family line for the years to come. Speaking to a person about their application is like negotiating the value of their rock. Do you want to grow the company with them, or are there better offers out there? Like how your job description is to get new employees interested in your business, the recruitment process involves the candidates attracting you to their quality.

Accepting a Pebble

Reach out to potential candidates that applied or those you found that seem like a good fit for a position. Once a candidate and employer both express interest in moving forward, it’s time to start the interview process.

Around one in three businesses are unhappy with their interview process. Is yours one of them? Companies have different approaches to the interview process—some prefer a multi-faceted approach with several interviews, while others prefer to be one-and-done.

The purpose of an interview is not only to thoroughly vet potential staff members and gauge whether they will be a good fit for your company culture and the position. It’s also to answer any questions and allow them to determine whether they think being employed by you is the right move.

Some businesses incorporate a trial project or shadowing days to see how the person works within the environment. Once both parties are convinced this is the correct step, they can move forward in the process of growing together.

3. Onboarding (Catching the Joeys Up to Speed)

A fun fact for preschoolers is that kangaroo babies (called joeys) live in their mother’s pouches for several months after birth. It’s not really about bonding, either—when joeys appear, they lack the survivability their species needs. While living in the pouch, their mothers help them physically acclimate to the environment and learn how to survive independently.

When employees join your company, they must learn how to survive in your workplace culture and meet your expectations. The onboarding process is when you nurture these new employees and help them acclimate to your environment.

By investing your time and resources in these recruits, you can set them on a successful path for the future. There are many elements to the onboarding process, and each is crucial to the potential success of a new hire.

Helping New Employees Find Their Way

Once the payroll paperwork is signed, it’s time to introduce and train your new worker. Regardless of which department they enter, there are benefits when leadership involves themselves in welcoming someone new and taking care of their needs.

That doesn’t mean interfering in the department’s training process since those staff members may know their area better than you. What it does mean is ensuring the new employee that your business wants their growth and you want them to feel comfortable in their new environment.

Introduce each new hire to their workspace and everyone they will work with. Connect them with the correct people to set up technology and answer questions. Encourage other workers throughout the company to extend a welcoming and helpful hand to new people.

Pro Tip: For a non-boring guide on employee onboarding, including how to send them a game-plan document and swag bag, we’ve got your back: How to Welcome a New Employee to The Team (The Awesome Way)

4. Development (Turning Caterpillars into Butterflies)

Think of all your new employees as caterpillars. They have some life experience but have yet to reach their full potential. Whether they just graduated from college, are transferring from a similar-skilled industry, or want to continue learning and growing in a new environment, you can turn almost any caterpillar into a thriving butterfly.

Through the development process—which starts at the onboarding process and continues through their following years at your company—your business becomes the cocoon that new staff members transform within. Development involves keeping your promises during the attraction, recruitment, and onboarding processes.

By providing them with new opportunities, you show them you care about their progress and want to see them advance within your company and the industry. Once workers have developed into happy, competent, and productive workers, your goal becomes retention.

5. Retention (“Butterfly, Don’t Fly Away!”)

Stick to the butterfly metaphor for a second because recruitment and development are sometimes interchangeable in the life cycle model. Both mean creating a positive workplace environment that allows freedom to grow while producing quality work.

Once a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, that butterfly can spread its wings and fly. Retaining your employees is like trying to keep that butterfly from straying too far from its cocoon.

Bonuses and promotions are an excellent way to keep people at your business. Employees want to know they can count on growing within your company. Sure, some people like to stay in the same position for life, but for many industries, many are looking to go as far up the ladder as possible. Your job is to give employees the chance to do that.

Part of creating an excellent workplace culture is giving your employees opportunities to engage in fun activities, such as office lunches, door-decorating contests, and dress-up days. You can also host holiday parties and offer opportunities to earn perks like concert tickets or bonus pay. 

Most businesses want to keep an employee around as long as possible—however, you don’t want to stunt someone’s professional growth. Ensure the opportunities you offer them are suitable to further advancement in your industry, regardless of whether they stay with your company.

6. Separation (Passing Platypodes)

Platypodes are the introverts of the animal kingdom. They don’t dedicate themselves to any other platypus and live on their own for most of their lives. Occasionally, they will spend time in pairs before moving on to whatever is next.

Your employees are like these mammals. They have particular needs and desires from you and will eventually move to resignation or retirement. This separation is the last stage in the employee life cycle.

You may not think there’s much to do during this stage, but there are actually several things to consider when a staff member decides to part ways. Here are three common reasons an employee could leave your company outside of an emergency:

  1. They have found another position that better caters to their needs.
  2. They are frustrated with the workplace they are currently in.
  3. It is time for them to retire.

 Whatever the case may be, it’s crucial you end things on a productive and positive note. Congratulate them on their new opportunities, provide a parting gift and ensure that their teams know about their contributions to the company. If you’re willing to give a future recommendation, ensure that they know that. 

Implementing Employee Life Cycle Management 

Now that you’ve gone over each stage of the employee life cycle, here is a look at the best ways to manage each step. Proper management skills for the employee life cycle are great ways to help with company longevity.

Your workers are the backbone of your business. Without them, the day-to-day operations would cease. By employing proper management strategies at each stage of the employee life cycle, you can use them to your advantage.

Creating Brand Awareness

For the attraction stage, one of the best things you can do is increase brand awareness for potential job candidates and within the industry. You can do this by attending conferences and other industry events, networking with other areas of the sector, and promoting your successes through different forms of media.

Around half of all jobs are found online, so a sponsored job post every now and then can be a great way to attract more potential job candidates. Seeing your name first can stick with them even if they don’t view your listing first. Use each job posting as a way to reel in potential candidates.

Gain a candidate’s interest by creating descriptions that appeal to those seeking a job within the industry. Then, quickly promote what makes your company unique or pose an interesting question or statement. The goal is to make your listing stand out among competitors.

Filling Vacant Positions

Sometimes, it’s better to approach the candidates you want rather than try to attract them to your posting. Various job search websites allow employers to contact candidates directly through their platforms. You can view resumes and cover letters from different accounts.

Some sites even provide you with a list of candidates with the skills you’re looking for in an employee. If you see a candidate that you would like to learn more about, message them with details about your listing and offer to answer any questions they have.

When interviewing a potential candidate, don’t solely ask about their work experience. Though that topic can be a focus of the interview, ask about their outside aspirations and hobbies as well. Discussing these things can help you better gauge your candidates’ personalities, which can indicate whether they will interact well with the workers already in their life cycles at your business.

Bringing Employees on Board 

Think about the last time you started at a new company. What were the things you wish your employer would have done for you? By putting yourself in the shoes of a new hire, you can use your position to help them see if they’ve made the right decision in choosing your business as a new workplace.

If you’re in a small company, a great way to get to know a new staff member is by holding a group lunch or taking people to an event. These group activities are morale-building for everyone within your business, not just the new employee. They’re a great way to help people get to know one another so it doesn’t feel as awkward when trying to incorporate someone into their team.

Peer feedback is a vital tool for any new employee. Even if they worked elsewhere in the industry, you can’t expect someone to know how to do everything the way your company does right away. Providing open communication about their work in a way that builds their confidence can help them quickly acclimate to your environment and processes.

By taking the time to do a proper onboarding, your employee can settle in and stay awhile, which is the next part of the employee life cycle.

Helping Employees Reach Their Potential 

You can retain workers by providing continuing education and training, praising their successes and giving them consistent feedback on the quality of their work in a constructive way. Continuing education allows employees to improve hard and soft skills, which can make them more knowledgeable in their work. This involves not only critiquing the negative things about their work, but also praising what is positive and helping them come up with solutions to the areas that need improvement.

Keeping Workers Around 

Everyone starts somewhere. Offering advancement opportunities through new positions and greater pay helps employees learn you care for them and want to invest in their potential growth with your business.

A huge part of retention is employee morale. If you have a toxic workplace, people will not stick around regardless of what you offer them. Research shows if employees are happy in their environment, their productivity can increase by approximately 20%, with your revenue going up by almost 43%.

The mental well-being of each staff member is as important as physical well-being, so you need to create and maintain a workplace where everyone feels welcome and heard. Let your employees have some fun by organizing group events and giving them the opportunities to have flexible working schedules, congregate with co-workers and personalize workstations. Each of these opportunities can improve employee morale while increasing productivity.

Parting Ways with Employees

Always be upfront about offering an exit interview where people can be honest about their experience at your business. The information you gain during these interviews can be vital to improving company culture.

It’s also essential to encourage the employee and support their decision during this time. By ending things on a positive note, you open yourself up to positive feedback and reviews from the employee.

Be upfront with other workers when someone’s time in the employee life cycle has come to an end. Give the departing employee the option of whether they want to tell their co-workers or if you should. Allow them to explain their new opportunities and be honest with your teams about any adjustments your company will go through while the transition takes place. Having an honest and open line of communication can help keep workplace spirits up during a sad time.

For staff members that have time before leaving your business, consider asking them to help train a new employee. Not only does it give the hiree some of the best information during onboarding, but it also shows your company is supportive of all people during their time in the employee life cycle.

A new worker will see you are open to conversations about ending their time in the life cycle and you support career advancement or retirement. For the employee exiting the life cycle, it shows you are supportive of their decision and trust them to help bring in new faces.

Each employee you have has a life and aspirations away from your company. They hope to seize an opportunity at your business but may end up walking a separate path. As a manager in your company, it’s your job to ensure every staff member—whether for a few years or decades—has the best experience possible and becomes an asset to your company and industry.

Improving Employee Life Cycle Management

Many technologies out there allow your company to utilize the employee life cycle to its full potential. These tools can help lay out your employee life cycle management strategy.

Using Systems to Attract and Retain Employees

Applicant tracking systems are online platforms that can assist you in the attraction and recruitment stages of the life cycle. The technology helps simplify your recruitment process, from sorting through different applications to selecting candidates.

Greenhouse, Vidcruitter, JazzHR, and Bamboo HR are some of the most popular systems used by employers. 

These systems allow hiring managers and human resource professionals to direct every stage of the hiring process within one online platform. It’s helpful to keep everything in one place, so no one has to worry about juggling a paper trail.

Each tracking system is slightly different, with some offering onboarding features as well. The onboarding stage also has an application of its own to integrate new employees into your company efficiently.

Streamlining Important Paperwork

When using an onboarding program, you can remove the hassle of having new employees fill out massive amounts of paperwork on their first day. Investing in a good system allows them to complete most of this process ahead of time, including their W-4s, direct deposit information, non-disclosure agreements, emergency contact information, and consent forms.

DocuSign, Adobe Acrobat, and HelloSign can help you get important signatures quickly and efficiently. 

By using an onboarding application, you help eliminate potential errors by giving people enough time to review their paperwork in the comfort of their own homes. Employees should take their time reviewing contracts and selecting their benefit programs—an online platform and plenty of notice can allow them to do that. Not to mention, having them sign digital documents can save your company a ton of money on paper.

Giving Employees Opportunities to Grow

Several platforms provide new training and certifications to employees entirely online. Google Career Certificates, Udemy, and Coursera are just a few examples of education opportunities for employee advancement. They are incredibly beneficial for providing development opportunities and keeping everyone up to speed on the latest industry changes.

Online time cards, such as Homebase, and other attendance-tracking platforms, like ProCare, can help workers gain control of their time while helping managers keep track of days off and altered schedules. These systems are more accurate than paper time cards because they are less prone to human error. 

Payroll management systems, like Quickbooks and PayCor, are also huge time savers for many users. They can process the payroll of multiple employees at once, freeing up accountants and human resource managers to handle other tasks. Management software also helps eliminate human errors and ensure people receive the correct pay on time.

Creating a Positive Separation 

When an employee informs you they are separating from your business, online tools – such as Workday. Brightpearl, Hubstaff, and SAP Business – can be excellent ways to close their accounts and remove their information without much hassle. Just as payroll management and onboarding systems can assist in bringing someone new to your company, they can also help similarly take them out.

While you can use an exit interview to your advantage, it might also help you get honest feedback if you provide them with an online form or survey they can fill out privately, expressing what they liked and disliked about their time with your company.

Key Takeaways from the Six Employee Life Cycle Stages

  • The six parts of the employee life cycle are attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and separation.
  • At any time, your staff members are at different stages in the life cycle, and you should treat each appropriately.
  • You can use the life cycle to your advantage by providing extra support to new hires, development opportunities for current workers, and understanding existing employees.
  • By managing the life cycle, you can grow your business while keeping a positive work environment.
  • Online systems and technologies can help you as you work to make each stage of the life cycle, including application tracking, payroll management, continuing education opportunities, and exit surveys.

Above all, the employee life cycle is a fantastic way to help ensure each worker feels appreciated during their time with you.

Interested in learning more? Here is a list of fun tips to help your staff members feel valuable within your business.

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