Employee Life Cycle: 7 Stages of Engagement

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Bruna Vasconcelos
Bruna Vasconcelos
Head of People

Table of Contents

The life cycle of an employee is one that any company can manage at every step. Learn what each of the 7 stages are, and how to plan an incorporate them into your company culture.
Published on
August 9, 2023
Updated on
April 11, 2024

Your employees are one of your greatest resources, so tracking their engagement and progress as their employment journey develop is essential. One means of monitoring this development is the employee life cycle.

Employee life cycle management helps you design a more strategic HR and marketing process. It enables you to build your HR strategy to consider everything from the first moment a prospect notices your brand to how they feel about your company long after moving on. 

This article discusses the seven stages of employee life cycle management, why it matters for your organization, and how you can improve your employee experience. Let's go!

What Is the Employee Life Cycle?

Companies have used customer journey mapping to track consumer experiences from start to finish for some time; the employee life cycle model applies the same thinking to your internal workforce instead of your customers. It begins with attracting new talent, then tracks engagement, productivity, and other factors, from recruitment and the hiring process to exit interviews. It even accounts for how the employee feels about the organization after they've left.

7 Employee Life Cycle Stages

Though it was once thought that there were five stages in the life cycle of an employee, further development of employment theory shows that there are seven.

1. Attraction 

It wasn't part of the initial five employee life cycle stages, but recent research has placed the attraction stage at the beginning of the process. Occurring even before recruitment, attraction is the first step in bringing new talent on board.

The first time someone uses your product or considers your brand, your company has an immediate opportunity to leave a first impression. Satisfied users or intrigued job seekers may think, "I'd like to work there." How you present your brand may make them curious and inspire them to apply. That's attraction.

The attraction stage is part of the recruitment process because it includes the preliminary steps your company can take to begin to draw in new talent. To boost attraction, focus on improving your brand image, keeping in mind the type of employee you'd like to hire. Then, begin recruiting.

2. Recruitment 

Once prospective employees become aware of your brand, you can begin recruitment. During the recruitment process, you'll start directly interacting with a candidate for the first time; you’ll need to focus on presenting your business's offerings and demonstrating what sets you apart from the competition.

When you build your recruitment strategy, you'll want to develop an effective outreach mechanism, like a user-friendly website, a marketing campaign that leverages every relevant channel, and an employee value proposition (EVP) that shows prospects why they should work for you.

Your EVP should include the following:

  • Opportunities for growth
  • The people they'll be working with
  • The organization and its values
  • The duties they'll be performing
  • The wages and benefits they'll receive

The recruitment stage is an essential part of attracting new talent, but it also plays a role in other stages. A quality recruitment process helps you efficiently find suitable candidates for the job, which boosts your chances at long-term retention and even reduces other employees' burnout during the onboarding process.

3. Onboarding 

Once you've reached out to a new candidate and made a new hire, the next phase in the employee life cycle begins: onboarding.

The onboarding process begins with an employee's first day on the job and terminates once they reach their expected level of productivity. This period is also known as "ramp time." Employees may require extra attention from managers and their colleagues at this entry point — even if they're not entry-level employees — but the right amount of investment at this phase can yield big dividends in engagement and retention.

Employees’ specific needs will vary with each company and position, so tailor your onboarding process accordingly. However, a few standard onboarding processing components include:

  • Providing training for all non-prerequisite tools they'll be expected to use (e.g., clock-in/clock-out software, HR systems, etc.)
  • Processing all necessary paperwork
  • Delivering constructive, honest feedback about performance and giving new employees a chance to voice their concerns

Patience is critical during the onboarding phase. You may want your employee to jump in and start working at full productivity, but you'll first need to give them time to build relationships, become proficient, and rise to the top of the ramp. This can take up to a year for some employees, and overwhelming them with new information may only slow the process down. Patience may improve employee retention.

4. Retention 

Once you've brought new hires on board, you need to make sure they stick around. That's what the retention stage is all about.

Maintaining employee retention can improve your business in several ways. First, organizations with good retention programs (naturally) have lower turnover rates. This reduces companies' recruitment and onboarding costs because they're not constantly scrambling to fill vacated positions. Their productivity is also higher because their employees have more experienced and, therefore, greater proficiency.

The retention stage is also, ideally, the longest part of the employee life cycle. It starts on day one of the employee's journey and lasts throughout their career. You should constantly monitor each team member’s productivity and engagement and search for ways to ensure they stick around and continue to develop.

5. Development 

Organizations don't want their workers to stagnate. They should constantly improve their skill sets, become more productive, and eagerly take on new tasks that add more value to the company. The development stage seeks to achieve those goals by giving high-performing workers room and incentive to grow. Companies can do that by:

  • Giving constructive feedback on interviews and evaluations
  • Offering recognition for efforts and achievements
  • Paying for advancements in training and education
  • Identifying high-performing employees and considering them for promotions
  • Offering incentives and benefits

The development stage occurs throughout your employees' careers, which means there's some overlap between it and the retention phase. Both are key to driving employee engagement and maintaining a positive company culture; however, retention focuses mainly on the duration of employment, while development looks for ways to get the most out of each team member. Development helps employees thrive.

6. Exit 

Eventually, every employee must move on. Whether due to retirement, resignation, layoffs, or contract fulfillment, the exit stage handles outgoing workers and is a key part of the employee life cycle.

In the exit stage, a manager should take time to meet with the employee, giving them a chance to provide honest feedback about their experience at the company. Some may not offer constructive criticism, but others may offer eye-opening insights regarding the company culture. The exit phase can also include succession planning as retiring employees pass on their valuable skills, which can help teams transition more smoothly.  

7. Advocacy 

Just because an employee has stopped working at a company doesn't mean the employee’s life cycle is over. Just as attraction started the process before recruitment, advocacy goes beyond an employee's tenure and involves how your brand is viewed outside the employment circle.

Former employees have the potential to be ambassadors for your brand. A positive recommendation can intrigue prospective candidates — impacting the attraction process — while disgruntled employees may, in contrast, give negative reviews and tarnish your corporate image. That makes it essential to end the exit stage on a high note so former employees will be promoters, not detractors.

Why the Employee Life Cycle is Important in HR

The employee life cycle model (ELM) aims to do for HR what customer journey mapping does for marketing. By identifying strengths and weaknesses across all areas of interaction between a worker and employer, businesses can better evaluate how they can meet the needs of their employees and maximize value.

Some benefits of an employee life cycle analysis include the following:

  • Higher retention rates
  • Better employee engagement
  • Improved company culture
  • A better brand image
  • Reduced recruitment costs
  • Shorter ramp time
  • Higher productivity

Businesses must optimize every part of their operations, and HR is no exception. By breaking down your workers' tenure into more granular steps, the employee life cycle helps companies gain visibility into their HR operations, boosting efficiency.

Improving Employee Experiences

Given the many benefits of implementing an employee life cycle analysis, the only question is how to go about it. While the specifics will vary with each business, these employee life cycle best practices could help you get started and improve the employee experience:

  1. Convey your brand's vision and values in a way that resonates with potential employees, not just potential consumers (Attraction).
  2. Advertise your job opening on the most beneficial channels to your employee audience, carefully articulating what sets your company apart (Recruitment).
  3. Equip new employees with the tools they need to succeed, offering a welcoming environment and plenty of patience (Onboarding).
  4. Monitor productivity and burnout with surveys and pay careful attention to employee feedback, being quick to address your workers' concerns (Retention).
  5. Identify high-performing employees and give them growth opportunities. Offer incentives and recognition — and help underperforming workers improve (Development).
  6. Monitor your attrition rates and allow outgoing employees to make their voices heard (Exit).
  7. End your employee interactions positively, potentially even offering the chance to return in the future (Advocacy).

You'll need a data-driven way to monitor the progress of your employee life cycle, and there are many KPIs you can use to do it. Time-to-hire, attrition rate, and ramp time are just a few employee life cycle KPIs that some businesses look to; choose the ones that best fit your company’s purposes.

Improve Your Tech Team's Employee Experience With Revelo

The employee life cycle helps businesses get the most out of their most valuable asset: their employees. However, sourcing, hiring, and onboarding those employees can be challenging. 

Revelo is a talent marketplace that matches companies with highly skilled pre-vetted developers and engineers across Latin America. We match you with candidates from our vast talent network, providing you with a shortlist within days. Once you choose your ideal hire, we manage the rest, from payroll and benefits administration to taxes and local compliance. Contact us today to attract new talent, reduce recruitment costs, and shorten the onboarding window.

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