Tips and Benefits of designing an effective employee life cycle

Anyone who has read fairy tales, especially the ones with princes and princesses, knows that the story ends with a ‘And they lived happily ever after…’

Those people also know that to get to happily ever after, the prince and his swarm of the army has to fight the bad guy, slay some dragons and then find the princess or the reward. 

Now, you must be wondering why a human resource blog is talking about fairy tales. What If you were told that this fairy tale is hypothetically your life in your organization? 

Organizations (or recruiters), always wish to hire candidates that accompany them in their growth journey towards a ‘happily ever after’. But from the above snippet, you would have realized that it takes a lot to make that happen!

Let us look at how you can understand and contribute to a candidate’s well-being and success so they want to retire from the organization.

What is an employee lifecycle?

Employee lifecycle (ELC) is the relationship between the employee and the organization – right from the moment they apply for the job till they leave.

The employee lifecycle has several chronological stages and there is constant interaction between the employee and the company, whether purposeful or implicit. Every interaction creates an impression for the employee about the organization (and vice versa). 

The experience of a candidate or employee determines whether they would want to take the professional relationship ahead. Also, at every stage lies an expectation that is expected to be met (or at least managed) by the supervisor or the organization.    

Key takeaways

At one glance, it does seem like a lot to do, doesn’t it? 

If you have your strategy or game plan in place, you will be able to cruise through the stages and be able to provide a wonderful experience quite effortlessly.  

As a moral of the story, if you understand the employee, you will realize that they need:   

  • work that is satisfying, challenging, and/or rewarding
  • have their significant needs met, even if in the long run
  • positive experiences, outweighing the others
  • overall comfort and well-being

To effortlessly offer these to the employee, you (as in, the organization) will need:

  • a clear vision and organizational strategy for business and the workforce
  • a strong value system to guide the leadership 
  • open communication channels
  • the ability to adapt and improve

Remember that creating and managing a smooth employee experience needs the contribution of the entire organization, including the employees themselves. It is important to encourage employees to take shared responsibility for their development as well as maintain a good work culture. 

Employee engagement is not to be used only as a fix for low morale or as a retention technique. ELC helps in creating consistent engagement in the long run.  

What are the benefits of designing an employee lifecycle?

Every organization has a business strategy; however, companies that have an employee lifecycle strategy end up being more successful. Just as we remind ourselves that hard work pays off, it is worthwhile to note the benefits of creating an ELC strategy. 

On the business side, an effective ELC design will:

#1 Create a reliable and productive workforce

By creating a strategy, various interventions can be put in place for commonly encountered scenarios viz. performance management systems, training feedback, coaching, etc. This will optimize performance to achieve business outcomes. 

#2 Reduce turnover costs through talent retention

By helping the employee develop and providing positive experiences, employees can be retained and turnover and rehiring costs can be reduced considerably.

#3 Improve brand reputation

A productive and satisfied workforce will lead to positive customer experiences which, in turn, will improve brand image.     

On the employee engagement side, an effective ELC strategy will:

#4 Help track and plan the employee’s growth and well-being

Today, organizations invest a lot in employee development and may consider employee needs such as work-life balance, flexible work modes, etc. 

#5 Help in consciously creating positive talent experiences

ELC provides the opportunity to gather employee feedback and create positive experiences, at every stage of the life cycle. 

#6 Improve employer reputation

A satisfied workforce will advocate your brand, as an employer.

If you have had an ‘aha’ moment after reading through so far and wish to create an ELC strategy, you need to follow these steps:

  1. The first step is always to set a vision and goals for talent acquisition, development, and retention – in fact, for every aspect where employees are concerned.  
  2. The next step is to define lifecycle stages and sub-stages. Although some common stages are defined, organizations can choose to define sub-stages. For example, rewards and recognition can be defined as sub-stage within development or retention.  
  3. Taking this further, involve departments in various stages of the life cycle. Best practices can be shared with leadership, encouraging them to create positive experiences for their teams. 
  4. When you start implementing your ELC process, review it periodically and realign it, if necessary. Of course, reviewing employee feedback will prompt you to make the necessary changes. 

What are the stages of the employee lifecycle?

Dividing the employee lifecycle into stages helps you track employee satisfaction and measure the effectiveness of your processes. Following are some stages that are universally defined as a part of an ELC:

Stage 1: Attracting the right talent

The first interaction with prospective candidates begins much before they apply for a role in your organization. It starts when a candidate comes across your brand name, job posting, or website. The way you communicate your brand is subtly responsible for the talent you attract. Experienced candidates often scour through your website to understand if being a part of your organization will benefit them. Several companies present their work culture, employee testimonials, and their success stories.  

Once the candidate applies for a job, engagement begins and so does the perception of the organization through the interactions. The experience of the candidate serves as Moments of Truth (MoT) for them. 

Positive experiences (MoT) during this stage:

  • Perceived brand image
  • Clarity of the Job Description
  • Ease of applying for the role
  • Acknowledgment/ rejection response to the application
  • In-time and consistent communication
  • First personal interaction (either by phone or face-to-face)

Stage 2: Recruitment

The recruitment stage involves a lot more interaction with the candidate. There may be several schedules, multiple interviewers, and other activities like pre-employment assessment and even documentation. Today, candidates are evaluated through various modes like telephonic, video, or in-person interviews. Some organizations also screen candidates by asking them to submit a video resume, which is evaluated for basic and necessary soft skills. This reduces the effort and time (mostly invested in traveling) for candidates. It also increases the accessibility of candidates for organizations.   

Many recruiters explain the recruitment process to create clarity. Interviewers, who follow the best hiring practices, share constructive feedback with candidates after every round. Sometimes, a positive MoT for the candidate is how challenging and interesting the interview questions are.  

Receiving an offer letter is quite momentous for the candidate. If the interviewer explains the offer well, it helps the candidate make a decision and becomes a positive MoT.   

Positive experiences (MoT) during this stage:

  • Convenient scheduling
  • The demeanor of the recruiter
  • Clarity and timeliness of interview rounds  
  • Clarity in communicating the role and expectations 
  • Ease of accessing and completing any pre-employment testing and documentation
  • Nature of interview rounds (interesting, conversational, etc.)
  • Feedback after interview rounds
  • Presenting a lucrative offer
  • Mutually agreeable negotiation
  • Appointment to the role

Sometimes, the offer leads to negotiation.  If the recruiter has understood the candidate’s needs, they will be able to help the candidate see the long-term benefits. The appointment letter marks the start of an official, professional relationship.

Stage 3: Onboarding

The induction of an employee into the organization is elaborate and significant. Onboarding includes the creation of the employee’s identity in the organization (employee ID, HRMS ID, computer, email, phone, etc.) and allotment of their workspace. It also includes paperwork to create reference checks and maintain employee records. This stage may also include product and process training.  The usual period for onboarding is 90 days; however, effective organizations consider the employee’s first year as the onboarding phase.

Positive experiences (MoT) during this stage:

  • Clarity about the onboarding process and Day 1
  • Candidate’s experience on Day 1
  • Familiarity with the organization (vision, infrastructure, workspace, supervisor, team, etc.)
  • Ease of the documentation process (streamlined and/or automated)
  • Availability of ID, workspace, resources, and tools on time
  • Skill development and training sessions
  • Assistance and support through onboarding (buddy, mentor, etc.)
  • Access to communicate with their supervisor
  • Consistent, constructive feedback
  • Comfort with company culture and team cohesion
  • Clarity of future growth opportunity

Stage 4: Development

Once onboarded, the employee now looks forward to growth opportunities. Growth is not only in terms of salary hikes and designations but also challenging roles and responsibilities.

The development of an employee can be facilitated through regular performance reviews and feedback and training, coaching, and mentoring.

Positive experiences (MoT) during this stage:

  • Clarity about various growth opportunities (promotions, salary hikes, bonuses, etc.)
  • Objective, transparent, and consistent performance reviews
  • Constructive feedback for improvement
  • Learning and development opportunities   
  • Coaching and mentoring support
  • Opportunity to take up complex (and rewarding) challenges
  • Opportunity to mentor others 

Stage 5: Retention

Every organization has a hierarchical structure. Companies with clear yet fluid hierarchies have greater chances of employee retention. They offer job rotations, transfers, deputations, and opportunities to lead significant projects. 

On the other hand, employees have personal milestones and motivators and they seek to fulfill them through professional achievement.

Positive experiences (MoT) during this stage:

  • Salary, hikes, and promotions
  • Fringe benefits
  • Appreciation, reward, and recognition
  • Significant projects, roles, and challenges
  • Increased visibility in the organization
  • Comfortable team dynamics

Stage 6: Separation

There are times when the employee and the organization decide to part ways – voluntarily or otherwise. Reasons for separation within the organization’s purview can be tracked and addressed in one-on-one meetings and exit interviews.

As it is quoted, “People may forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”, remember that an employee will remain an advocate for your organization’s brand, even after separation. Therefore, making the employee’s exit as cordial and smooth as possible will work in your favor too. This will also help to not burn bridges in case the employee wants to rejoin the company in the future.  

Positive experiences (MoT) during this stage:

  • Conversation for possible retention
  • Cordial exit interviews
  • Streamlined and smooth documentation
  • Acknowledgment of the employee’s contribution
  • On-time issuance of relieving and experience letters and final settlement  

All this looks okay in theory; how can we measure it?

Metrics in the employee lifecycle

What gets measured gets managed. Whether through numbers or gathering feedback at various stages, you can keep track of what’s working for you. Candidate (or employee) feedback can be sought at every stage through surveys or one-on-one interactions and is a default metric.

Let us look at some metrics in the different stages of ELC: 

  1. Attraction

#1 Number of applications per job 

It indicates the popularity of the job role. It can also give an insight into the demographics of applicants   

#2 Candidate experience survey

It shows the ease of applying for a position  

  1. Recruitment

#3 Time-to-fill

It is the time taken between job requisition posting and offer acceptance 

#4 Cost-per-hire

It is the average cost incurred while hiring a new employee

#5 Offer acceptance rate

It is the percentage of candidates who accepted a job offer. It indicates how competitive the market is. 

#6 Conversion rate

It is the percentage of candidates hired as compared to the available vacancies

#7 Candidate experience

It gives you insights into how effective and efficient your recruitment process is. 

  1. Onboarding

#8 New hire turnover

It is the number of employees who quit within a year of joining

#9 Time to productivity

It is the average time taken for an employee to start being productive from their joining date

#10 Quality of hire

It is the value that an employee adds to the organization (through productivity, customer feedback, engagement, etc) 

  1. Development

#11 Average performance scores

It indicates how skilled and productive your employees are

#12 Promotion rates

It is the percentage of promotions in a given period divided by the number of employees 

#13 Employee churn rate

It  is the number of employees leaving the organization in a given time

  1. Retention 

#14 Retention rate

It is the ratio of employees who stayed with the company to the initial number of employees in a given time span

#15 Cultural experience

It is the feedback from employees about their satisfaction and well-being in the company. This is fairly subjective and will point out areas of improvement.

  1. Separation

#16 Reason for separation

It is subjective feedback that provides insight into which areas of the ELC need to be worked on

#17 Employee experience survey

It is the overall experience of the employee through their journey, including the exit process

Tools that will help in the employee lifecycle

#1 Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

It is an automated system used to source, screen, assist in hiring, and onboard candidates. It allows recruiters to make data-driven hiring decisions to get candidates with the right expertise and culture alignment. Examples: Freshteam, BreezyHR, Greenhouse, Workable, etc.

#2 Post-offer Engagement Software 

Post-offer candidate engagement is connecting with the candidates after extending a formal offer, in creative and meaningful ways via different mediums like emails, calls, texts, company videos or in-person interactions. It enhances the candidate experience immensely during the notice period, via constant nudges, automated chatbot, in-built ticket management system and video interventions, significantly improving the chances of them joining the company. Example: Hyreo

#3 Onboarding Software 

It allows organizations to communicate and engage consistently with candidates through onboarding. It also allows streamlined documentation before their joining. It has provision for task tracking for new hires. Examples: Hireology, Workday, Oorwin, etc.

#4 Talent Acquisition Software 

It combines the features of ATS and onboarding software to provide end-to-end recruitment solutions. Examples: SmartRecruiters, Yello, iCIMS, etc.

#5 Human Resources Management System (HRMS) 

It is a software that helps organizations manage their internal HR functions right from maintaining employee records through recruitment, payroll, training, employee engagement, performance management, and exit. Examples: Paylocity, Workforce Now, Paycom, etc.

Wrap up

An effective ELC is a great way of knowing if all your efforts are coming together to give you the desired result. If you have an ELC in place, you would already know about the benefits and if you don’t – it is time you create an ELC strategy. 

An effective ELC will ensure a productive and engaged workforce that will eventually contribute to business success, and brand reputation and make the journey wonderful for both the employees and management.

So, be focused, follow the set path and you may find yourself a ‘happily ever after’!   

FAQs on Employee Life Cycle 

Can the stages in the ELC be changed?

Yes. Although there are some stages that are universally defined, an organization can customize the stages by including rewards and recognition, culture alignment, alumni (creation), etc. The number of stages can be customized as per the organization.

What does creating positive employee experiences mean?

Positive employee experience means the comfort and belonging an employee feels within the organization. It means that the employee has more positive experiences throughout their tenure. Some ways of creating positive experiences are through open communication, meaningful work, helping employees grow, and strong company culture.  

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