The employee lifecycle is a great way to think about and understand employee experience. It offers a more holistic view of an employee’s journey from before they even think to apply, all the way through to their final day on the job.
That said, the employee lifecycle is only effective if you account for changing employee expectations. In this article, we use the lifecycle model to think about how HR professionals can best meet the pressing needs of today’s employees.
What is the Employee Lifecycle?
The employee lifecycle is a model used to detail the most important stages of an employee’s journey through an organisation. It is used to illustrate the biggest moments or chapters of an employee’s career in any one business.
The stages of the employee lifecycle include:
Attraction - what an employee sees before they even think to apply
Recruitment - the process from first interview to final job offer
Onboarding - how an employee gets up to speed in an organisation
Retention - the efforts that keep an employee happy, healthy and engaged
Development - learning, training and performance topics live here
Separation - the moment an employee decides to move on
Let’s start by stating the obvious: Every stage of the employee lifecycle matters, or else we wouldn’t see it here at all. That said, various stages of the lifecycle take on new levels of importance depending on market conditions, skills gaps and other factors.
Why Use An Employee Lifecycle to Understand Employee Experience?
The employee lifecycle is crucial because everything starts with people. When you consider the holistic journey that an employee takes, from their first day to their exit interview, you can begin to chart and consider everything they will experience along the way.
From a strategic perspective, this allows HR leaders to plan for and insert moments or programmes that can have a tangible impact on lived employee experience.
Ultimately, employee experience matters. One study from McKinsey found that positive employee experience can lead to 16 times higher engagement and eight times higher retention.
So, it not only helps add clarity, but it comes with a business case. If we can plan for ways to boost employee experience in the life cycle, we can also boost business outcomes.
How Has The Employee Lifecycle Changed?
Employee expectations are always changing. For example, events like the pandemic (and its subsequent impact) revealed a great appetite for things like remote work, work-life balance and burnout prevention on a scale we have never really seen before.
According to Personio’s latest research, employees currently want their employers to focus on the three following things for better employee experience:
Work-life balance (29%)
Internal communication (27%)
Development opportunities (24%)
If we consider these as three top priorities, we can start charting them against the employee lifecycle model and how HR teams can make improvements to meet these expectations.
Key Insight: According to that same research, the expectations of managers didn’t necessarily align with those of employees. Download the research today to gain critical insights for the future of work.
1. Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is a massive topic across the UK. In fact, a study of 2,000 British workers found just three in 10 are satisfied with their organisation’s current work-life balance. The truth is that you should find work-life balance in almost every stage of the employee lifecycle. It becomes more a question of where prioritising it can have the highest impact.
For our purposes today, let’s place work-life balance in the ‘retention’ stage of the employee lifecycle. From there, we’ll talk about the impact it can have on employee experience. Work-life balance and retention lead us into a wider conversation around employee wellbeing. This is a great starting point for just about any organisation.
According to research done by the CIPD, nearly one in five (19%) UK employers are not doing anything to improve employee health and wellbeing. That needs to change. For employers to get the most out of their employee performance and engagement, work-life balance (as a part of wellbeing) needs to factor highly in their thinking.
Something simple organisations could try is instituting a “no-meeting day” or seeking to institute “meeting hours” (no meetings after a certain time of day) and address them on a company-wide level to ensure broad compliance.
That requires a lot of effort, but it’s certainly worthwhile. Today’s employees care about wellbeing, with healthy employees being 59% more likely to be engaged at work, so your organisation needs to embed it somewhere in the life cycle.
2. Internal Communication
In much the same way as work-life balance, internal communication matters across the entire employee lifecycle. So, where might we see it matter the most?
Let’s talk about recruitment. When we think of things like candidate experience, internal communication may not immediately spring to mind – but, it has a huge impact. That’s because of the relationship between internal communication and internal coordination, speaking to overall organisational effectiveness.
If organisations can’t communicate effectively, then they can’t coordinate things like interviews, job offers and locking down great talent in record time. In that sense, employee expectations extend to candidate expectations. And, candidate experience often speaks directly to employee performance on the job.
As an HR professional, great talent powers your business. In general, 63% of candidates are unhappy with the lack of communication they receive from employers after applying for a job.
If you want to prioritise internal communication, think about your processes. What does your recruitment cycle look like currently? Is there room to loop in more people, remove redundant steps or introduce automation – each could play a key role.
3. Development Opportunities
If the first two expectations could fit anywhere, the idea of ‘development opportunities’ can find a very snug home in the aptly-titled development stage of the employee lifecycle.
For modern employees, the idea of development is increasingly divorced from the traditional conception of development. Namely, the annual performance review. In fact, 65% of employees have said that they want more feedback. And, companies who embrace more regular forms of feedback experience 14.9% lower turnover rates.
Continuous development and feedback practices are trending upward. This means that organisations should seek to embed more ways for employees to ‘feel’ development. That could include trying to facilitate a stronger culture of feedback, potentially through tooling, or developing leaders to take on more coaching in the foundation of their role.
The issue with development is that it can take many forms. The key here is that it needs to feel tangible to employees. Your organisation needs to showcase their efforts.
Ultimately, many organisations need to reinvent or rethink what they think of when they think of development.
Seeing the World of Work Through the Employee Lifecycle
There is no doubt that employee expectations will continue to change. That’s why it helps to align those expectations with the employee lifecycle, and find ways to drive business by thinking about the stages of the overall employee experience.
We put together a helpful guide for this exact purpose. Download our Employee Lifecycle Guide to grow your business through employee experience today.