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The 6 Stages of The Employee Life Cycle

6 stages of the employee life cycle

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    Employee Engagement is priority number 1 for “Elite Employers”

    Consider the journey of an employee, from first spotting a job posting, right up until the point they say “farewell” and leave your company. There are numerous touch points of engagement with the company/employer along the way, which have a profound effect on the success, motivation, mental state of mind and future behaviours and of the employee/individual concerned.

    Here we delve into the various stages of an employee’s journey, known widely as the Employee Life Cycle, and discuss why it is so significant to company success.

    What is the Employee Life Cycle?

    The Employee Life Cycle refers to the various phases an employee goes through within a company. Aligned to corporate objectives, it is a strategy designed to attract, recruit, onboard the right people, maintain morale, drive performance, and manage staff turnover.

    The Employee Lifecycle can be mapped in six distinct stages: employee attraction, recruitment, employee onboarding, employee development, employee retention and employee separation. A continuous and complex process, it requires careful thought, analysis and implementation, which is why companies often employ the services of an external HR specialist.

    Read on for an introduction to the six stages of the Employee Life Cycle and find out why, in the age of Covid, employee engagement has taken on such great importance.

    Why is the Employee Life Cycle important to HR?

    Elite employers understand that people are their most important asset, and that companies with dynamic and engaged employees are the ones most likely to succeed. Meeting business objectives and gaining the competitive advantage both rely on employee performance, which in turn relies on employee engagement and satisfaction.

    Smart employers prioritise people management, and develop their Employee Life Cycle strategy in line with their organisational goals.

    An investment in people management may seem obvious, but employee engagement can often become lost in the cut and thrust of everyday corporate life. When this happens, the repercussions can be felt fast – decreased morale, a drop in productivity, increased turnover of staff. All of which impacts directly on a company’s bottom line.

    How COVID has impacted the Employee Life Cycle

    The subject of employee engagement is particularly pertinent in the wake of the pandemic, with over a third of employees suggesting that they will consider moving jobs within the next year. To survive, companies must ensure the Employee Life Cycle is firmly in their line of sight, or risk bearing the brunt of what has been coined the ‘Great Resignation‘.

    With many industries facing a concerning skills shortage, the market is more competitive now than ever. It has become employee-driven and candidates are commanding more and more for their careers and from their employers. This is especially true after a long period of home working, where some may have felt their careers have stalled, whilst for others it has fuelled their desire for a more flexible way of working.

    Your candidates and employees are looking beyond salary to reward, recognition, skills development and career progression – and they can afford to be picky. If you value your staff and want to win the talent war, then you need to cultivate cultures to reflect what is most important to each and every employee. At OutThere we will show you how!

    The Employee Life Cycle in 6 Stages

    If your Employee Life Cycle requires a fresh perspective, then OutThere is primed to help. We specialise in every aspect of the employee journey and can tailor our services to fulfil your requirements large, or small.

    To stimulate your thinking, we have set out the six key stages of the Employee Life Cycle in the model below:

    stages of the employee life cycle
    The 6 stages of the Employee Life Cycle by OutThere.

    Stage 1. Attraction: Define your dream candidate and draw them in

    Some might see the recruitment stage as the first stage of the Employee Life Cycle, but there is essential work to be done before you throw the proverbial net out. This stage is all about establishing your employer brand, identifying the talent pool and stopping at nothing to attract your model hire.

    Role Profiling

    In order to recruit the right people, you must first define what they look like. At a basic level, what key competencies and industry experience do they need to fulfil the role? Digging deeper, what personality traits make them a good fit for the role, the team and organisation as a whole?

    This practice, known as Role Profiling, is an essential. In essence it is the wish list to the universe. It will ensure you accurately attract and identify credible candidates who can meet the demands of the job. Not only that, the process helps employers maintain valuable insight into their evolving company structure and identify potential talent gaps and overlaps.

    Employer Branding

    Successful businesses understand the power of a carefully crafted employer brand. Elite Employers understand that their ’employer brand’ is reflective of their core values and an essential starting point for attracting the best talent.

    Intentionally or not, all organisations portray a certain image and a set of values in the recruitment market. Ask yourself – “why should a potential candidate bother to engage with you over your nearest competitor?” and “How can you best portray your unique proposition to attract them?”.

    Vacancy Marketing

    Once you have a clear idea of who you are trying to attract, careful thought must be given to the what, how and where of finding them. This is essential in gaining the attention of your target audience “the best talent” and getting the absolute most out of your budget.

    The employment market has evolved and there are so many more ways to reach candidates now than ever before, for example, specific skill set searching, proactively approaching your competitors employees, internal employee referral schemes, social media posting, networking sites, and job fairs, along with the more traditional channels such as your website, internal advertising and recruitment process outsourcing. Success depends on achieving the right mix of these channels, nailing your message and being consistent with your employee attraction strategy.

    Reward and Benefits

    The recruitment market is competitive and employees are naturally attracted to companies who can offer them the most favourable terms and conditions of employment including rewards and recognition.

    An innovative Rewards and Benefits strategy can go a long way in enticing top talent, especially when it comes to younger employees. Money is no longer the main driver for most people. We need to look past pay structures and pensions, it is worth asking “what your company has to offer that will differentiate itself and inspire engagement?”. Only now can you start to think about how you demonstrate your commitment to employee recognition and growth.

    Stage 2. Recruitment Planning: Ensure accuracy of hire, first time

    You have vacancies to fill, you know who you wish to attract and how. The recruitment stage begins and the search is on.

    Recruitment Strategy

    Underlying any successful new hire is a solid Recruitment Strategy, which supports your company objectives and growth plan. It should set out your recruitment roadmap over time, including

    • vacancy review process
    • job profiling
    • skills analysis
    • budgeting
    • succession planning
    • screening and interview process
    • feedback mechanisms

    Recruitment Outsourcing

    Before embarking on the hiring stage, employers must decide whether to manage the process internally or externally. Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) is when a company transfers all or part of the recruitment process to external HR professionals such as ourselves.

    We can manage your people and culture strategy as an extension of your HR department, including marketing, managing candidate experience, interviewing and onboarding. Or, you may enlist our expertise for one-off campaigns.

    Companies that choose to outsource cite many benefits including efficiency gains for Hiring Managers, cost management, stakeholder management, consistency of process, improved candidate engagement, protection of the employer brand and culture, positive social media resulting in the growth of the talent pool.

    Executive Search

    When it comes to recruiting your “Senior Leadership” team it requires time, commercial business intelligence and an in-depth understanding of company culture. Organisations often use external Executive Search companies to help profile the ‘model executive hire’ to align with their business objectives and protect their board dynamics.

    Executive Search specialists also undertake Market Mapping, ie. combining organisational and geographical analytics to identify the talent pool and associated costs of hiring ‘high value’ employees.

    Psychometric Profiling

    A lot can be said for rapport and gut instinct when it comes to interviewing, but employers should be wary of basing hiring decisions based solely on interview performance and the interviewer’s (inevitably) subjective point of view.

    Recruitment decisions require justification, and Psychometric Profiling is a widely accepted practice in assessing a candidate’s suitability. It provides a scientific and objective view of a candidate’s character, strengths, career potential and working style. Why chance it when you can have scientific proof to back up your decision?

    At OutThere, we offer a number of different ways to assist your vacancy solutions. From fully outsourced recruitment campaigns to hiring high-calibre candidates as part of an executive search project, we can help you find, map and profile the perfect match.

    Stage 3. Onboarding: A good first impression will help you retain employees

    Once you have got the right people on board, the next stage of the Employee Life Cycle is to create the “WOW” moment. Exceed new your new hires expectations and engage with them prior to starting. Send a welcome pack, invite them out to lunch, plan something for their first day to ensure their smooth integration into your business.

    The Onboarding process must not to be underestimated, with more than 25% of new hires indicating they would quit their new job within the first 90 days if it didn’t meet their expectations. So to retain new starters and avoid costly mistakes, it pays to be creative and map out your employee onboarding strategy.


    The Induction is a vital stage of the onboarding process and serves to welcome new hires to your Company, establish strong relationships, deliver wellbeing initiatives, deliver product training and to fully immerse your new employees in your company culture and core values. It’s the space to ensure that they acquire the necessary knowledge, tools and support structure to deliver against their duties and responsibilities and do their best work.

    First impressions count, and the induction process is likely to have a long-term effect on employee performance, satisfaction and retention. The induction process should include an introduction to:

    • Health and Safety procedures
    • Facilities, including IT
    • Learning and development opportunities
    • Organisational structure, goals and strategy
    • Culture, company values and brand
    • Rewards and benefits
    • Specific role requirements

    Health and Wellbeing

    Given the importance and heightened awareness of Employee Wellbeing, it is essential that your new hire feels supported from the get-go. Starting a new role is difficult, and the early days are a key time to demonstrate your company’s commitment to supporting the physical and mental health of its employees.

    HR Documentation

    Like it or loathe it, there is a lot of admin and documentation throughout the employee journey. Many companies, particularly SMEs, find they benefit from the help of external HR agencies to lighten the load and ensure they are compliant.

    Learning and Development

    Training and career progression have grown in importance to job candidates, and as such, talent management has become a priority for employers. The onboarding period is the ideal time to establish your new hires’ Learning and Development journey, as well as highlighting opportunities for professional development. Over time our Learning and Development needs change. We get inspired, we get bored. The annual performance review is the perfect space to establish career aspirations, succession planning and where to invest your training budget.

    Stage 4. Employee Development: Invest in talent management and watch productivity soar

    An investment in Employee Development is an investment in your bottom line. Without a doubt, it has an impact on productivity, helping to foster a satisfied, motivated and dynamic workforce. It creates a domino effect; as leaders grow in competence and so does their influence on employee performance.

    Career Development Plans

    Nurturing talent is a win-win for employers and employees. Professional development, career progression and job security are of growing importance to today’s employees. A realistic, clearly communicated Career Development Plan can be a huge motivator, when combined with 360-degree feedback and performance reviews. For employers, it offers greater potential for return on their investment.


    Coaching is one-on-one mentoring of an employee by a trained line manager, senior employee, or external professional over a set period of time. It focuses on developing the skills of the individual, helping them to achieve both personal and performance goals. It is a great way for a company to develop talent and improve performance.

    Succession Planning

    In the context of the current labour shortage, Succession Planning has never been so important. It refers to the process of identifying business-critical roles and developing employees to fill those roles in the future, should the current incumbent leave the organisation. It usually involves training and practical work experience.

    Organisation Change and Development

    Organisation development is a practice undertaken to ensure that a business can adapt and thrive in an ever-growing industry. It involves deep analysis of current beliefs, values, practices and systems with a view to changing and enhancing the organisation’s performance and culture. People management obviously plays a huge part in accomplishing these Organisation Development goals.

    Stage 5. Employee Retention: Protect your investment

    With a so-called ‘talent exodus‘ predicted in the wake of Covid, employee retention has never been more crucial. High employee turnover can result in devastating financial costs for businesses, as well as having a negative impact on productivity, morale and reputation. So it is easy to understand why firms protect their investment by adopting an employee retention strategy to maximise employee engagement.

    Personal Development Plans

    Employees need to feel valued and recognised if they are to fulfil their potential within an organisation. A Personal Development Plan can play a big part in that, providing a structured set of goals to improve their skills and achieve short and long-term goals. Access to internal and external learning is important in achieving these goals and boosting performance.

    A PDP is also a great mechanism for tracking and celebrating achievements, as well as acknowledging your top talent which can help boost morale and motivation.

    Employee Relations

    Establishing an Employee Relations program signifies strong leadership, which is often cited as one of the most important factors for new employees. The term refers to the efforts of its senior leaders to share information, set expectations, encourage discussion and elicit honest feedback. It is essential in engendering trust and creating a healthy working environment.

    Employee Assistance Programs

    We’re fortunate to be working in an era of greater awareness and understanding of personal issues, such as addiction and mental health. An Employee Assistance Program is designed to help staff members experiencing problems outside of the workplace so that they do not adversely impact on their work performance. It includes access to services such as third-party counselling, advice helplines or legal assistance, and sometimes forms part of a business’ healthcare provision.

    Reward and Recognition

    There is no greater motivator than recognition for a job done well. While regular feedback sessions and performance management are valuable in communicating recognition, we are in unprecedented times and employees are commanding more than ever in terms of reward.

    The term “Reward” often refers to pay structure and the basic level of remuneration, however it can also include other financial incentives which can contribute to better attraction and retention. For example, pension plans, paid leave, cash bonuses and overtime opportunities.

    Non-financial benefits are also highly prized, such as development opportunities, awards and flexible working.

    Stage 6. Employee Separation: A smooth exit will protect your employer brand

    The final stage of the Employee Life Cycle, is departure or Employee Separation stage – and this is certainly a phase that is not to be overlooked.

    Past employees can be a company’s biggest advocates – or biggest detractors. In the case of an enforced end to a contract, it is essential to manage it correctly to protect the employer brand. This is where the services of external HR professionals, such as OutThere, can be a real lifeline. The benefits of a third party conducting an exit interview is that there is no emotional involvement, the feedback can be priceless and any negativity reaching the employment market can be discussed and put to bed.

    Performance and Capability

    There comes a time when every employee must depart for pastures new. Exit interviews are an essential way for a company to gain honest feedback, and ensure that the employee feels valued and recognised.

    It really does pay dividends to invest time, energy and care analysing the performance and capabilities of past and present employees. This will enable you to gain insight into why people are leaving and how you can retain your existing talent. It will also help to prevent bad hires in the future, improve your management practices and ultimately, drive a better, more positive organisational performance.


    All employees have a right to raise a grievance and likewise every employer has a right to respond. Knowing the right way to go about this however, will ensure that both parties stay on the right side of the law – should a disciplinary occur!

    Whilst dismissing employees is something all businesses hope to avoid, it is something that few manage to do well. Therefore every company should have a written disciplinary policy that clearly explains the rules of conduct for staff to follow (such as health and safety rules), and the obligations expected of the employee (i.e. reporting accidents and notifying sickness etc). This ensures that all disciplinaries are reviewed and actioned fairly.


    Although redundancy offers an adequate reason to dismiss an employee – provided a genuine redundancy situation exists, and the correct consultation and selection process is followed – it should always be the last resort and needs to be handled with sensitivity and compassion. Knowing how to consult with your staff, select candidates for redundancy and work out what to pay for services due, is so important to ensure that all parties feel that they have been treated fairly.

    Settlement Agreements

    In some instances, dismissed employees will be entitled to a settlement of some sort, and whatever agreement you decide upon, should be presented in a legal document. You need to make sure the employee’s exit is watertight, in order to avoid the risk of further action being taken.

    If you are unsure of how to manage redundancy or any form of dismissal appropriately, then OutThere can answer your questions, sit in on disciplinary procedures and help you to devise settlement agreements. We can even conduct exit interviews on your behalf.

    Contact OutThere – your Employee Life Cycle Experts

    We hope that this article has provided plenty of food for thought about the Employee Life Cycle model within your organisation. If you would like to find out more about how the team at OutThere can support you to improve your employee journey, we’d be delighted to chat.

    We are a team with a broad amount of experience. We manage all stages of Employee Life Cycle, including recruitment, onboarding, development, retention and separation, and we are here to provide outsourced solutions for all businesses great and small.

    Picture of Sarah Close
    Sarah Close

    Sarah is the Founder and Managing Director at OutThere. She has a demonstrated history of working in the Executive Search, People Strategy and Human Resources space. To talk to Sarah, please call or complete our website contact form.

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    About OutThere
    OutThere is an HR and Recruitment Process Outsourcing Company. We provide access to great HR, Recruitment and Training Talent that is not necessarily required or affordable to businesses on a full time basis.

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