A complete guide to the stages of the employee life cycle

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 21 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Creating a strong and sustainable employee life cycle (ELC) is about recruiting and retaining the ideal candidates for each position. By using a life cycle model, human resource specialists and other professionals can better understand the requirements and stages of an employee's career path. If you work in an HR or other business role, understanding more about the ELC model can help you maximise employee satisfaction and engagement. In this article, we present a guide to the employee life cycle, including its stages and the benefits of using this model.

What is the employee life cycle?

The employee life cycle, sometimes referred to as ELC, is a model that helps professionals in human resources and business development to visualise the employee experience throughout their time with an organisation. The model is similar to that of a customer life cycle and focuses on the idea that an employee's experience is equally as important as a customer's experience. The framework helps to give organisations useful strategies for engaging with staff members at every stage of their employment. These strategies can be beneficial for the employee and the organisation.

Stages of the life cycle

The ELC model includes a varying number of stages depending on the organisation. Some organisations combine certain stages to create a shorter life cycle. Understanding the most expansive version of the cycle can help you with any variations of the model that you subsequently encounter. A comprehensive employee lifecycle typically includes the following 11 steps:

1. Attraction

The life cycle model begins with the attraction stage, where a potential employee first becomes aware of a company. This might be by noticing a job advert, researching job vacancies or speaking to friends and family. This stage doesn't involve the potential recruit interacting directly with someone from the company. This stage is about making the business as attractive as possible to future employees. Brand awareness, a positive corporate image and attractive benefits packages are some of the ways that employers can boost engagement during this stage.

2. Recruitment

The recruitment stage is the first time that the employee interacts directly with the employer. The employee finds out more about the organisation and the job vacancy and decides whether they would like to pursue it. Effective engagement during the recruitment stage means making the process smooth and straightforward for all candidates. Seeking referrals for candidates from existing employees and others in the same business network or using internal recruitment strategies can be useful at this stage.

Related: Need to fill a position? (Internal recruitment pros and cons)

3. Interviewing

Sometimes interviewing forms part of the recruitment stage, but in some cases, it's a separate stage in the life cycle. This stage is where the potential employee meets the employer, sees the workplace for the first time and finds out more about the job opportunity. They can decide whether the opportunity fits with their career aspirations and whether the position is suitable for them. The employer also has the chance to assess whether the employee is suitable for the organisation.

4. Onboarding

Onboarding occurs once the employer has hired a new member of staff. It prepares the new employee for working at the company. Onboarding involves welcoming the employee, providing them with essential information and giving them the necessary tools to work effectively. This includes organising their IT account, permissions and hardware in addition to ensuring they have a desk and access to other facilities such as lockers. Effective onboarding might also involve training or information sessions to help the new employee become more comfortable with the job and the company.

5. Engagement

The engagement stage usually begins once the employee settles into their job. This stage is about strategies to promote and uphold the company culture and values. It also involves keeping employees feeling engaged and motivated. Having a positive organisational culture is significant during this stage of the life cycle. Supporting employees to develop and be productive is important to make them feel valued and encourage them to stay.

6. Development

The development stage is about helping employees to develop professionally and make progress towards their career goals. Effective development strategies like career coaching, training and mentorship schemes can make employees feel that the company values and supports them. Performance reviews and feedback are also important parts of developing employees. The outcomes of reviews might lead to new responsibilities or pay increases to incentivise staff during this stage.

7. Retention

Retention is when the employee is well-established at the business, and engagement strategies start to focus on encouraging them to continue their career there. Focusing on the retention stage is particularly important for employees who are high performing or challenging to replace. One useful approach can be to empower these employees by seeking their feedback and implementing some of their suggestions.

8. Recognition

The recognition stage can occur at various times during the staff member's employment. Recognising an employee's achievements can boost their morale and be motivational, not only for them but for their colleagues because it demonstrates to the entire workforce that the company values its staff. Developing and raising awareness of employee recognition or reward schemes can be a useful strategy for this stage in the life cycle.

Related: How to write a recognition letter with guides and templates

9. Offboarding

The offboarding stage begins when an employee decides to leave the organisation. The goal at this stage is to make the transition as straightforward as possible. Ideally, the employee gives the company notice that they plan to leave in accordance with company policy.

When this happens, the employer and employee can work together to create a handover and conduct any training that's necessary for other staff members to complete unfinished projects. It also involves giving the employee documents like their P45 and final payslip. The employer might start the recruitment process to find new candidates during this time.

10. Separation

The separation stage is when the employee leaves the company. This involves the employee returning equipment or keys and removing their personal belongings from their desk or locker. Some companies conduct exit interviews during this stage to gain feedback about the organisation. To make this stage a positive experience, many companies organise farewell events or collections for employees who are leaving.

Related: 11 common reasons employees leave their roles (plus tips)

11. Alumni

The alumni stage occurs after the employee has left the organisation. It involves maintaining a positive relationship between the former employee and the company. The employee might still have links to the business through their personal relationships with former colleagues. Maintaining a good relationship with former employees is valuable because they might be able to fill vacancies or contract work in the future. Similarly, it's beneficial for the employee in case they want the employer to provide a work reference in the future.

What are the benefits of using the life cycle?

The life cycle model helps to promote effective engagement throughout an employee's career, boosting motivation and morale and ultimately making the working environment a more positive place. For businesses, there are other significant benefits, including:

Lower staff turnover

Implementing the life cycle model can help to lower staff turnover. The model can help businesses identify the most effective recruitment and retention strategies. The model also focuses on developing retention strategies that encourage employees to stay with the organisation for as long as possible. Reducing staff turnover in this way can help businesses to save money on the costs of recruitment and onboarding processes.

Related: What is an employee retention strategy and why is it important?

Increased employee engagement

Actively making employees feel valued and motivated boosts employee engagement and can increase loyalty to the company. The model encourages employers to value and support their employees at every stage of their life cycle, meaning that employees can stay engaged and may become even more engaged as they progress within the company. The ability to adapt business strategies as employees move through each stage is important for achieving this ongoing engagement.

Better training and development

Analysing the life cycle model can help to guide the organisation's training and development activities. It can help them to anticipate requirements and offer employees relevant training that is suitable for their requirements and career ambitions. Investing in the development of employees is another way to make them feel that the company values them and increase morale and motivation.

Employer improvement

The life cycle model can also help employers to improve if they analyse the model and the data they receive at each stage. This can help them identify areas to improve and enhance at specific stages in the life cycle. This can increase the employees' overall experience and benefit the employer's reputation too. Boosting its reputation and becoming a more desirable place to work can help the business attract strong talent for future vacancies.


  • What Is an Employee Retention Strategy and Why Is It Important?

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