16 Feb 2023

Employee lifecycle: What is it and why is it important?

The employee lifecycle represents more than how long an employee has been working for you. Though it is a chronological framework, your employee lifecycle can also be a vital metric for evaluating and optimising employee experience across your organisation.

Once you understand how the employee lifecycle works and what it means, you can proactively engage with it, improving the employee experience at every stage. In this article, you’ll find a comprehensive guide to every phase of the employee lifecycle: from job applicant to employee to departure from your organisation.

Employee lifecycle

The “employee lifecycle” refers to the chronological stages every employee goes through while working for you. The employee lifecycle spans from when you hire them, their time as an employee, and until they leave your organization. Employers should aim to foster a consistently positive employee experience wherever they are in the lifecycle. This will result in better retention rates, greater employee satisfaction, and boosted productivity.


Employee lifecycle model

Your specific employee lifecycle might differ according to your particular organization and practices. Below you’ll find a ‘typical’ employee lifecycle model.

What are the phases of the employee lifecycle?

The employee lifecycle consists of the following stages:

  • Attraction and Recruitment. This phase involves identifying the need for a new hire, developing job descriptions and specifications, then attracting and selecting qualified candidates for the open position. One method of attracting and selecting candidates that’s becoming increasingly popular is video recruiting. This tactic utilizes technology to allow recruiters to conduct interviews and assess applicants remotely. Video recruiting can not only expedite the hiring process, but also broaden the pool of potential candidates by eliminating geographical boundaries.
  • Employee Onboarding. During onboarding, you welcome new employees and help them integrate into your organisation. Onboarding includes orientation, training, and introducing them to the core aspects of your company culture. The overall aim of this phase is to help new recruits assimilate as quickly as possible.
  • Development and Growth. Once an employee has found their feet, you should continue providing opportunities for them to grow and develop professionally. You could include ongoing training and development programs, coaching, and regular performance feedback.
  • Performance Management. Regularly evaluating an employee’s performance and providing feedback will help them to continue growing and developing. Setting goals and objectives is a proactive way of helping your employee feel a sense of achievement and consistent progress.
  • Retention. Improving employee retention requires constant oversight and investment. Employers need to create a positive and supportive work environment to keep employees engaged and motivated and to prevent them from leaving the organization. Learn more about calculating & understanding your employee attrition rate.
  • Separation. The final stage of the employee lifecycle involves managing an employee’s departure. Your responsibilities as an employer include exit interviews, processing termination paperwork, and handling the handover of duties to other team members.

Each phase of the employee lifecycle is interrelated, so the chronology is not always linear. Attracting and retaining top talent requires consistent effort to improve employee experience and satisfaction at each stage. That’s why it’s so critical to understand the employee lifecycle framework.

Why is employee lifecycle important?

Employees at different stages of the lifecycle will have different needs, wants, and aspirations. That’s why understanding the employee lifecycle is fundamental to managing employee experience across your organisation. Leveraging the employee lifecycle framework also has several other benefits:

  • Attraction and Retention of (Top) Talent. Employers can attract and retain high-caliber talent by providing a positive and supportive experience throughout the employee lifecycle. This can lead to improved performance, increased productivity, and reduced turnover costs.
  • Improved Performance and Productivity. Providing regular feedback, opportunities for growth and development, and a supportive work environment can help employees perform at their best and reach their full potential.
  • Cost Savings. By reducing turnover, providing regular feedback and opportunities for growth, and retaining top talent, employers can achieve cost savings through reduced recruitment costs, increased productivity, and improved performance.
  • Effective Talent Management. By considering the employee lifecycle, employers can develop and implement effective talent management strategies to help them manage their workforce and achieve their business objectives.

Tips for understanding your employee lifecycle

Conceptually understanding your employee lifecycle and actively engaging with and leveraging it are two distinct things. Here are some tips for making the most of your employee lifecycle:

  • Define the stages of your lifecycle. Using our standard model, create your organisation’s specific employee lifecycle framework. This will help you to understand your organisation’s specific topography and cater to every type of employee.
  • Analyze and leverage your employee data. Review data such as employee turnover rates, performance metrics, and feedback from employees to gain insight into how each stage of the lifecycle is impacting your organization. By doing this, you may find evidence of subpar employee satisfaction or underperformance at a particular stage in the lifecycle. Identifying these symptoms will help you to address critical issues at every stage of the lifecycle.
  • Involve your employees in the conversation. Ask your employees for their perspectives on each stage of the lifecycle, and gather feedback on their experiences to better understand how you can improve.
  • Evaluate add optimise key workflows. Review and evaluate your processes related to each stage of the lifecycle, and identify any areas that could be improved or streamlined. Automating key workflows, integrating people-oriented tools, and eliminating knowledge and technology siloes can have a significant impact on overall employee experience.
  • Identify opportunities. Identify opportunities to enhance each stage of the lifecycle, such as providing more robust training programs, improving the performance management process, or creating more opportunities for career development.

By optimizing each stage of the employee lifecycle, you’re likely to see a positive domino effect across the spectrum. Employees who have been proactively supported since day one at your company are likely to see boosted satisfaction overall.

How to optimise each phase of the employee lifecycle

As we’ve seen, the employee lifecycle should be treated as more than a chronological metric. It’s a framework for measuring, reviewing and adjusting your practices to support all your employees across your organisation. We’ve put together some tips for optimizing each stage of your lifecycle.

Attraction & Hiring phase

The attraction phase is the critical time to ensure you connect with the most suitable candidates. Investing in your attraction and hiring process will make sure your new-hires are engaged, motivated, and a good fit for your organisation overall. This in turn should also work to reduce your employee turnover.

  • Clearly define your ideal candidate profile & write an accurate and compelling job description.
  • Advertise across multiple recruitment channels to maximise exposure and reach.
  • Offer a competitive salary and benefit to attract top talent.
  • Streamline the application process to reduce barriers to entry and improve the overall candidate experience.
  • Engage with candidates throughout the recruitment process, from initial contact to offer. This will help to build strong relationships and increase the chances of attracting top talent.


First impressions matter and make a huge impact on a new employee’s overall experience. That’s why you should pay attention to the importance of streamlined and comprehensive onboarding.

  • Create an onboarding checklist (using our template). Develop a detailed onboarding plan that includes the key activities, timelines, and expectations for the onboarding process.
  • Use an integrated platform like Zelt to automate your onboarding process. You can customise your onboarding flow for different positions, do away with manual administrative tasks, and get your new employees set up quickly and effectively.
  • Assign a dedicated onboarding mentor: Assign a dedicated mentor or coach to each new employee to provide guidance and support throughout the onboarding process.
  • Provide opportunities for learning and development: Provide opportunities for new employees to learn and develop new skills, such as training sessions, job shadowing, and hands-on experience.

Development, Growth, and Performance Management

Supporting your employees with ample opportunities for development and growth is essential to reinforcing their sense of purpose and value within your organisation.

  • Set clear expectations and goals for each employee and make sure to communicate these regularly to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.
  • Provide regular performance feedback. By including positive recognition and constructive criticism in your performance reviews, you can help your employees identify areas for growth and improvement alongside a sense of achievement.
  • Encourage open lines of communication between managers and employees to discuss performance, challenges, and opportunities for improvement on both sides.
  • Offer career & professional development opportunities. Consider including rotations, stretch assignments, and leadership development programs as an integral part of certain employee tracks. You could also offer a stipend for learning and development pursuits.
  • Create a mentorship program that connects employees with experienced colleagues who can offer guidance, support, and advice. This kind of initiative is also effective for building out a sense of company culture and community.


Though there’s no exact formula to retaining your talent, focussing on enhancing employee experience and satisfaction can go a long way. It’s important to note that employee retention should be a focus at every stage of the employee lifecycle.

  • Foster a positive workplace culture that values and supports employees and encourages them to feel engaged, motivated, and satisfied with their work.
  • Provide competitive compensation and benefits that are attractive to employees and that help to retain top talent.
  • Encourage work-life balance by helping employees to balance their professional and personal responsibilities.
  • Foster a sense of purpose by clearly communicating your organisation’s mission, values, and goals and encouraging employees to understand and align with these.
  • Address employee concerns and complaints quickly and effectively, to help resolve any issues that may be impacting their satisfaction and motivation.


Departures are a natural and expected part of the employee lifecycle. It’s worth using employee separations to learn about your shortcomings, employee experience, and reasons for departures. You should be mindful that high attrition rates might indicate systemic issues within your organisation.

  • Conduct exit interviews to understand employee motivations for leaving and to review their overall experience working with you.
  • Review and update processes in line with any issues highlighted in your exit interviews.

FAQs about the employee lifecycle

What is employee lifecycle management?

Employee lifecycle management is the process of managing the journey of an employee from the time they are hired to when they leave your organisation. This includes all the critical stages of the employee experience, including recruitment, onboarding, performance management, career development, and separation, to optimise the employee experience and maximize the value employees bring to the organization.

How does HR support employee lifecycle?

HR supports the employee lifecycle by designing and implementing policies, processes, and programs that help to optimize the employee experience at every stage of the life cycle. This includes attracting and recruiting top talent, onboarding new employees, managing performance and development, promoting work-life balance, and managing separations fairly and effectively. HR also plays a crucial role in monitoring and evaluating the impact of these activities on employee satisfaction, engagement, and productivity and in making continuous improvements to the employee experience. By supporting the employee lifecycle, HR helps to create a positive, supportive, and productive work environment that attracts and retains top talent and contributes to the organization’s long-term success.