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The 6 stages of the employee lifecycle

July 20, 2022 - 11 min read


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What is the employee lifecycle?

The 6 stages of employee lifecycle

Why the employee lifecycle matters

4 tips to make an employee lifecycle strategy

Final thoughts

Life cycles pertain to everything on earth.

Like all other mammals and plants, humans are born, grow, and then die. And it’s not just the natural world that’s cyclical. Your car and your laptop both have a life cycle, too.  

In the case of the professional world, this cycle is called the employee lifecycle model (ELC). It represents an employee’s journey when they work for a company. 

Understanding the employee lifecycle helps keep employers and employees alike cooperating and growing.


What is the employee lifecycle?

Even if you’ve been a member of the professional world for a while, you might not realize that being an employee is part of a greater cycle. 

The ELC is a method of organization that visualizes and manages how employees fit into the puzzle of the company where they work. This model helps employers understand the value of their workers and where they can contribute.

Plus, it helps employers identify changes they need to make to better manage their staff. The best bosses know their workers' strengths and weaknesses, which helps them delegate tasks and duties effectively. 

The model’s creation traces back to the idea that an employee's experience matters as much as a customer’s. And that’s true regardless of the company size. 


The 6 stages of employee lifecycle

Understanding the phases of the employee lifecycle is essential to employee lifecycle management. There are six:

1. Attraction

This refers to attracting capable and exciting employees to sell products and services. Employees play an essential role in growing a business. 

As any good boss knows, you  can’t bring in customers without strong employees. To fill positions with strong potential candidates, you’ll need to sell the company. Some strategies to attract stellar new employees include: 

2. Recruitment 

Recruitment is all about hiring those best suited for a particular role. To do that, start with a clear job description and a consensus on required experience for candidates. This will help streamline the process of reviewing applications and interviews.  

There are a few options for talent acquisition, including: 

  • Hiring a recruiter
  • Using job boards, such as Indeed or LinkedIn
  • Soliciting referrals from current employees 


3. Onboarding

The first day at a new job can be nerve wracking. Having a good employee onboarding process  helps new people get familiar with the new work environment quickly. When this transitional phase goes smoothly, people feel welcomed and eager to start contributing. 

During onboarding, new employees will: 

  • Learn their daily responsibilities and routines 
  • Assess the pre-existing dynamics among co-workers
  • Understand company value and job expectations, which sparks purpose and engagement 

Regular check-ins giving critical yet honest feedback are  helpful during this  transition period. In fact, performance reviews are helpful throughout an employee’s time with your company.

4. Development

This stage emphasizes holistic professional development, mainly improving and enhancing personal skills. Some ways to offer professional development include: 

  • Encouraging people to go to conferences, classes, and other events outside of work
  • Providing mentorship to new hires 
  • Recognizing employees for a job well done 

Employee development is vital as your company grows. 

Happy, healthy employees are the foundation for any successful organization. At BetterUp, we aid individuals and companies alike to grow together and achieve their goals. Our coaches are here to help employees at all levels unlock their potential and find purpose. 

We champion growth, social connections, and mental fitness in the name of positively transforming one’s personal and professional life. We won’t sugarcoat it — it takes work to create lasting change. If you’re willing to put in the effort, we’ll be here to help you navigate your journey and be your best self.

 5. Retention

Employee retention emphasizes satisfaction and happiness to keep top talent. Workers should feel both productive and challenged in their roles. If that’s not the case, employee turnover rates are likely to increase. 

Continually boosting team morale and cultivating in-depth relationships matters, too. As a boss, if you don’t know your employees, what drives them, where they excel, it’ll be difficult to build an efficient, dedicated team.

Employees like to — and deserve to — feel seen, heard, and valuable. Doing so increases their confidence levels and engagement


6. Separation

Separation is the employee offboarding process, or final stage of the ELC. Everyone reaches a point in life when they need a change. Separation can occur in many forms: finding a new job, a career change, retirement, or leaving for personal reasons. 

Employers are responsible for a smooth transition when an employee leaves. Exit interviews are a great way to review your employee’s performance and wish them the best. 

After one person leaves, the internal team dynamic will shift slightly. You’ll want to make sure remaining employees still feel optimistic moving forward. It can help to collect employee feedback to see how everyone feels about this adjustment. 

Why the employee lifecycle matters

Workers are the frontlines, and without them, an organization can’t hope to survive or expand. That’s why the ELC is important.

It’s the job of every company to take care of their employees. The ELC is an invaluable tool for employers. It allows them to gather insight and information about making necessary changes in the future.  

By adopting the ELC model, businesses can do more than document the employee experience. They can focus on internal improvements, like better talent recruitment and team collaboration. Plus, they can boost their reputation.

Companies that treat their employees well, like offering them resources to deal with stress, anxiety, and emergencies, succeed where others don’t. 


4 tips to make an employee lifecycle strategy

Typically, the human resources department develops  a strategy to incorporate the ELC into a company’s daily operations. 

Some tips to help with this are: 

1. Set goals

The ELC is all about putting employees first and helping them follow an upward trajectory. Brainstorm what each stage of the cycle should look like for your company. 

2. Define each stage of the cycle

Some organizations may have more stages than others. For example, larger companies may need to divide the recruitment process into application analysis, interviews, and then hiring. 

3. Collaborate with other departments

A business is a living organism. That means departments need to work collaboratively and offer each other support. 

4. Review

Collecting feedback and reevaluating the approach is vital to making progress.


Final thoughts

As people grow, so do their interests, desires, and preferences. And, when that happens, they may decide to part ways with an organization.

This is a natural part of doing business. So, when they decide to leave, it’s important you make the process as smooth as possible. Leaving on a good terms will ensure your team gets a glowing review, which is great for your reputation among new hires.

Respecting the employee lifecycle is sometimes easier said than done. It can be difficult to let go of top talent. But, after working in the trenches together, you can be happy they’re doing what’s best for them.

Here at BetterUp, we believe that well-being and peak performance go hand in hand. We want to help you balance that go-getter hustle with smart moves to ensure that your health and happiness are sustained in the long run. Our coaches will provide the perspective and accountability you need to keep going and living more meaningfully. 


Published July 20, 2022

Shonna Waters, PhD

Vice President of Alliance Solutions

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