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Employee lifecycle: it’s not the destination, it’s the journey

The employee lifecycle (ELC) is the journey an employee takes with an organization, from initial contact as a potential recruit, through recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and finally separation. Each stage presents unique opportunities and challenges for HR management.

Alexandros Pantelakis
Alexandros Pantelakis

HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.

Employee lifecycle

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”? This quote is very important for all HR professionals when it comes to the employee lifecycle.

As HR professionals, we’re not just managing processes – we’re shaping experiences that can make or break an employee’s journey with our organization.

Recent Gallup research indicates that organizations with a strong understanding of the ELC have 41% lower absenteeism and 24% lower turnover in high-turnover organizations.

What is employee lifecycle?

The ELC is a holistic view of an employee’s journey with an organization, from the first point of contact to the final goodbye. It’s a continuous cycle that includes 6 critical stages: Attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, and separation.

Each stage presents unique opportunities and challenges that can significantly impact our organization’s performance and reputation.

Let’s delve into these stages and get a real look at what this journey is.

The stages of the employee lifecycle

Everything in life begins with attraction; this is not a secret. The same principle plays a vital role in recruiting. From seeking the best candidates to hiring them, offering them a great experience, and possibly saying goodbye at some point, these stages encompass the employee lifecycle.

1. Attraction

This is where our employer brand comes into play. As HR leaders, we need to ensure that our organization’s values, culture, and opportunities resonate with potential candidates. According to Workable’s survey report (to be released in August 2023), 1 out of 2 candidates are passive talent. That’s why we have to put a lot of effort into attracting the right candidates.

Related: Advanced Careers Pages: Talent Attraction Made Easy

2. Recruitment

Recruitment, a vital stage in the employee lifecycle, begins with identifying a vacancy and defining job requirements. The process continues with attracting potential candidates through various channels, followed by screening applications to shortlist suitable candidates.

The next step involves conducting interviews, which can range from phone calls to face-to-face meetings or even practical assessments.

The recruitment process culminates in the selection of the most fitting candidate, considering their skills, performance in interviews, and alignment with the company’s culture and values.

A well-executed recruitment process enhances the employer’s brand and ensures high-quality hires.

Related: Talent Acquisition: everything you need to know

3. Onboarding

A robust onboarding process is invaluable in setting up new hires for success. It not only helps employees understand their roles and responsibilities but also integrates them into the company culture. Effective onboarding can boost job satisfaction, performance, and commitment, leading to higher retention rates.

It’s an investment that not only enhances the new employee’s experience but also contributes to the overall productivity and morale of the organization, making it a critical component of the employee lifecycle.

Related: Onboard new hires easily and efficiently with Workable

4. Development

Employee development is a strategic investment that drives organizational growth.

It equips employees with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in their roles and adapt to evolving industry trends.

By fostering a culture of continuous learning, organizations can boost employee engagement, productivity, and innovation.

Moreover, development opportunities are a key driver of employee retention, as they demonstrate the organization’s commitment to its employees’ career growth. Thus, employee development is a win-win for both the individual and the organization.

Related: What’s included in a good employee management strategy?

5. Retention

Employee retention is, also, crucial for organizational stability and growth.

Retaining top talent reduces the costs associated with turnover, such as recruitment, onboarding, and lost productivity.

Moreover, long-term employees develop deep institutional knowledge and strong relationships, which can enhance team performance and customer satisfaction.

A high retention rate also boosts the organization’s reputation as a desirable place to work.

Therefore, investing in retention strategies, such as competitive compensation, career development opportunities, and a positive work environment, can yield significant returns.

Related: Boost your employer branding & retention using AI

6. Separation

The separation stage, marking the end of the employee lifecycle, is as important as the beginning. It involves managing the exit process when an employee leaves the organization, whether due to resignation, retirement, or termination.

A respectful and well-managed separation process can minimize disruption, preserve relationships, and maintain the organization’s reputation.

It also provides an opportunity to gather feedback through exit interviews, which can yield valuable insights for improving retention and overall employee experience.

Related: Why to conduct an exit interview and how to do it

The impact of AI on the employee lifecycle

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the employee lifecycle, making HR processes more efficient and personalized.

From AI-powered recruitment tools that streamline candidate sourcing, to chatbots that enhance onboarding experiences, and predictive analytics that aid in retention strategies, AI is reshaping HR practices.

People think AI will free up the recruiter’s time (44%), provide valuable insights during the recruitment process (41%) and enhance employee experience.

However, it’s essential to balance AI’s efficiency with a human touch.

While AI can automate tasks and provide insights, the human element remains crucial in decision-making, empathy, and fostering a positive workplace culture.

As HR professionals, we must stay ahead of the curve. The rise of remote work, the increasing importance of diversity and inclusion, and the rapid advancement of technology are reshaping the ELC.

Remember, the employee lifecycle is not just a journey for our employees – it’s a journey for us as HR professionals too. As we guide our employees through their lifecycle, we’re also evolving, growing, and learning. And that’s what makes our work in HR so incredibly rewarding.

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