Global HR 10 min

Employee life cycle: Importance, stages, and more

Written by Barbara Matthews
June 17, 2024
Barbara Matthews


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It takes significant effort to recruit, interview, and hire top talent, especially if you’re building a distributed team. It's equally important to effectively manage your remote team to make sure your team members are happy and satisfied with their positions.

The first step to hiring and retaining top talent is to develop a solid understanding of the employee life cycle.

In this article, we'll discuss the importance of the employee life cycle and describe its stages. We'll also take a look at best practices and special considerations for an international workforce.

What is the employee life cycle?

The employee life cycle describes an employee’s experience with an organization over time. It begins the moment the employee becomes aware of the company and continues after they have separated from it.

There are seven stages in the employee life cycle: attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, separation, and advocacy.

HR professionals should be aware of each employee life cycle to create a positive experience for their employees during every stage. Understanding your employees’ attitudes toward your company, including how they feel about their job responsibilities during each life cycle, gives you valuable insights.

Why is it important to think about the employee life cycle in stages?

HR professionals should consider each employee’s time with the company in stages rather than a lumped experience.

Narrowing your focus in this way provides actionable insights into maintaining or improving the different life-cycle stages at your company. For example, you might have a robust onboarding system in place, but‌ your offboarding could benefit from some attention.

Think of the employee life cycle in stages to create a positive and meaningful experience for your employees from the start to the end. Understanding the employee life cycle is part of a robust HR strategy.

Additional benefits of breaking down employee lifecycle are:

  • Improved company's brand and reputation

  • More referrals and efficient recruitment

  • Improved employee motivation, attitude, well-being, and performance

  • Increased employee productivity and quality of work products

  • Better employee job satisfaction and long-term retention

Now, let’s dive into the seven employee life cycle stages.

The 7 stages of the employee life cycle

The stages of the employee life cycle are as follows:

seven stages of the employee life cycle

Stage 1: Attraction

The attraction stage starts the moment a potential employee becomes aware of your business. 

They might have a positive experience purchasing your product, perusing your website, or interacting with the company via social media. They might also check out a job board and feel drawn to your job description.

Companies that want to establish a positive first impression need to develop a strong and identifiable brand that aligns with the company’s mission statement, vision, values, and culture.

This kind of consistency is important to maintaining a positive reputation. Good reputation also attracts strong candidates. In fact, more than 70% of job seekers say that a company’s reputation is important when choosing a job.

Stage 2: Recruitment

Don’t wait for top talent to find you; actively seek them out. The right recruitment tactics help you find the right employees for the right jobs at the right times. 

Solid recruitment policies also play a significant role in a business’s future growth. Start with a powerful website and career page that outlines your company in detail and explains why it’s the best fit for someone searching for employment.

HR employee with a bullhorn for recruiting

But don’t stop there. Use multiple platforms to attract talent, such as job boards, job fairs, social media, and direct community outreach. Remote Talent is a great place to specify the candidate you are looking for to build your global team.

Your recruitment efforts include your initial interactions with prospective talent. Candidates should have a good impression from the attraction stage. Solidify that impression with your interview process, a skills assessment, and a thorough background check.

Potential employees who go through a positive recruitment experience are more likely to say yes to job offers.

Stage 3: Onboarding

Once you’ve recruited and hired a new employee, their journey shifts to the onboarding stage. Here, the employee has a chance to get to know more about the company, including their job responsibilities and coworkers.

Onboarding has several different components, each of which should be addressed to create a positive employee experience. Some are less exciting, like filling out forms and reviewing company policies.

Balance tedious tasks with opportunities for employees to engage more with the business itself. Introduce new team members to colleagues whom they can shadow for the day. 

Don’t rush the onboarding process if you want to keep your employees on the books. Longer onboarding periods can link to higher retention rates after one year of employment, making it well worth your time and effort.

Stage 4: Development

The employee development stage is often one of the longest stages of the employee’s life cycle.

The importance of ongoing growth and development opportunities can’t be understated. 40% of employees leave jobs that didn’t provide them with enough career development and advancement opportunities.

Start by understanding your employee’s strengths and whether they’d benefit from upskilling or taking on additional job roles and responsibilities.

checklist of employee strengths

Connect with your employees through regular 1:1 check-ins and performance evaluations. Understand their goals and provide opportunities for them to advance their careers through professional development, coursework, or special certifications. To keep your team members engaged while they grow, provide on-the-job training and mentorship programs.

Stage 5: Retention

Keeping your top talent will save you long-term recruiting, hiring, and onboarding costs. The average cost of hiring a new employee is 4,700 USD, which quickly adds up for businesses on a budget. Frequent turnover can also negatively affect the team dynamic and your employees’ productivity. 

a bag full of money with a stat on hiring

Employee recognition programs can help improve the employee experience at the retention stage. Acknowledge your employees’ contributions publicly and privately, whether through personal feedback or a shout-out during team meetings.

Make sure acknowledgements are specific and personal. When done regularly, employee recognition programs can be a part of your company culture.

Outline the monetary rewards employees can expect, too, whether that’s performance-based bonuses or annual raises. And don’t underestimate the impact of benefits and perks.

Stage 6: Separation

Even with a top-notch company culture and a positive employee experience, the time will come when an employee decides to leave. 

Separation may come sooner than you think. 22% of employees consider themselves very or somewhat likely to search for a new job within the next six months.

Consider the nuances between the different types of separations. For example, the processes for layoffs, firings, and resignations will vary, so it’s important that you know how you want to handle them.

Implement a comprehensive offboarding process to prepare for the entire employee life cycle. For example, you may need to offboard an employee for them to transition to a new role or wrap up a particular project.

Lastly, hold an exit interview with each employee who leaves for detailed insights into their experience with your company.

Stage 7: Advocacy

Even if an employee is no longer working for your organization, they are still within the employee life cycle.

Maintaining a positive relationship with employees who depart the company leaves the door open if they want to return someday. They may also be more likely to post positive testimonials, share referrals, and encourage others to apply for positions.

Negative experiences, on the other hand, could damage your company’s brand and reputation, making it much more challenging to navigate the attraction and recruitment stages.

Best practices for making the most out of each employee life cycle stage

Here are some tips for providing your employees with a positive experience during each employee life cycle stage.

Focus on employee engagement

Businesses that prioritize employee engagement throughout the employee life cycle offer a better overall employee experience.

Start with the onboarding stage for your new hire to make connections within the team. Continue ‌employee development and retention by understanding and supporting employees’ career goals and rewarding them for their accomplishments.

Also, gather consistent feedback throughout the employee life cycle through multiple ways. This can include 360-degree feedback, pulse surveys, engagement surveys, and performance evaluations.

Finally, ensure your company culture supports a positive work-life balance. Your employees will be more engaged with the company if they feel like their well-being is an organizational priority.

Be transparent

Throughout the employee lifecycle, be transparent with expectations, responsibilities, and goals. Employees should also have easy access to policies and procedures to refer to when needed.

To make sure that communication flows both ways, implement an open-door policy so that all employees feel comfortable sharing questions or asking for help. When employees raise concerns or highlight issues, address them promptly and consistently to establish trust.

Use data to your advantage

Use data to determine which stage your company should focus most on and drive your next steps. 

For example, if you have a high job acceptance rate but many workers leave after a few months, focus on onboarding. If you find a high proportion of negative reviews on Glassdoor, look at employee development and retention.

Invest in software

You can look into smart software to simplify some of the employee life cycle stages. 

Remote HR Management helps you onboard and offboard employees consistently with ease. The platform sends automatic invites for each person to join the team and access their personal accounts. Team members can self-serve to complete onboarding checklists at their own pace.

Smart software helps you manage documents throughout the entire employee life cycle all in one place. With Remote, your employees can access personal documents and benefits, and manage their time and attendance in one platform.

How does the employee life cycle differ in an international workplace?

If you employ workers globally, keep these points in mind when you manage the employee life cycle.

workers around the globe

First, investigate the different job boards available. Some countries may favor one platform over another, and others may even have certain websites blocked. You might want to look into local outreach or community-based recruitment when you find top talent. Remote Talent is also a great way to attract, find, and hire candidates across the globe.

Also, people may also view the employee life cycle stages differently depending on their county culture. For example, offboarding can be a simple stage in some countries, but can be a detailed process in others.

Get support for the entire employee life cycle from Remote

Review the employee life cycle stages of your business. Which areas of your employee life cycle are robust? Which could use some support?

No matter which stage might need a boost, you can manage the entire employee life cycle with Remote.

Remote HR Management safely stores employee data and helps you manage your team from one handy place. You can onboard and offboard team members with a few easy clicks. Plus, your employees will love the convenience of the platform.

Get started with Remote HR Management for free today.

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