What is the employee life cycle? Why is it important?

Understand each stage of the employee life cycle

three images of people at the workplace

For business leaders looking to build a strong team, a solid grasp of the employee life cycle (ELC) is an excellent starting point. Each stage is essential in recruiting, engaging, and retaining skilled workers to drive organizational productivity.  

In this guide, we’ll explore the ELC, the significance of its various stages, and the advantages of implementing this model in your business. We'll also provide practical examples of effectively managing and optimizing the ELC's nine stages.  

What is the employee life cycle (ELC)? 

The ELC is a strategic human resources model that outlines the stages an employee progresses through during their time with a company, from initial onboarding when they're first hired to employee retention and offboarding.  

The ELC helps HR teams and other staff members visualize an employee's journey with an organization. Understanding these details through the ELC helps leadership boost workers' morale, foster a productive, supportive work environment, and improve employee experience.  

It also assists HR in addressing the distinct needs and challenges of various roles as they evolve through different stages. For instance, in the engagement stage, HR can enhance remote employees' involvement with virtual team-building initiatives. Conversely, for on-site employees, HR might provide in-person development opportunities like leadership workshops and career advancement courses. 

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The 9 employee life cycle stages  

The ELC provides a framework for creating structured work environments that support employees from the initial discovery of a role to their departure and beyond. Here’s an in-depth look at its nine stages:

1. Attraction 

Attraction starts when a potential candidate learns of an organization, whether via social media, word of mouth, or online job postings. To differentiate themselves during this initial stage of the ELC, companies highlight their unique aspects, such as their mission statements, noteworthy achievements, or dedication to sustainability or other important causes. 

2. Recruiting 

Recruiting marks a company's first direct interaction with a potential employee. During this stage of the ELC, organizations use compelling job descriptions to attract talent that aligns with their values and culture, ensuring the process is inclusive, fair, and equal for all qualified candidates.

3. Interviewing 

In-person and online interviewing allows candidates and employers to get to know each other. Employers assess candidates' skills, experience, and cultural fit, while candidates evaluate whether the company will help them meet and exceed their career goals. 

Companies can enhance the interview experience by being transparent about the role and their expectations. Using behavioral and situational interview questions helps hiring teams gain a thorough understanding of the candidate's abilities, and maintaining clear communication throughout the process improves the overall experience for interviewees.

4. Onboarding 

Onboarding sets new employees up for success by integrating them into the company culture and equipping them with the necessary tools for their roles. Effective onboarding involves training programs, introductions to team members, and a clear understanding of the employee's responsibilities. Using an employee onboarding automation platform like Oyster streamlines the process, allowing businesses to focus on creating a more engaging experience for new hires.

5. Engagement 

The engagement stage of the ELC aims to motivate staff and connect with them emotionally. Simple yet effective employee engagement strategies include recognizing achievements, such as securing important business deals or surpassing sales goals, and offering growth opportunities through learning and development courses. Companies can also boost engagement by conducting regular check-ins and maintaining an open-door policy for employee feedback.

6. Retention 

Retaining top talent requires creating a work environment that values employees and supports their career growth. For instance, as part of a retention strategy, a company might offer competitive salaries and comprehensive benefits, such as health, life, and dental insurance.

7. Offboarding 

The offboarding stage manages an employee's departure from the organization. This includes transitioning the employee's responsibilities to another team member and conducting an exit interview to collect helpful feedback. A thorough offboarding process ensures all administrative tasks are completed, and using an offboarding checklist can help. This stage is vital for maintaining a positive relationship with departing employees and leaving a lasting impression.

8. Exit 

This stage marks the official end of a team member's employment. It involves finalizing paperwork and returning company equipment to ensure a respectful separation between the business and the employee. Companies can use feedback gathered during exit interviews to address issues that might contribute to employee turnover.

9. Advocacy 

Employees who leave on good terms can become valuable advocates for the company. This stage involves maintaining relationships with former employees through alumni networks and keeping them up to date on company news. Encouraging former staff to share their positive experience with the company can help attract new talent, fostering a positive cycle of recruitment and retention.

Benefits of implementing the employee life cycle model 

Employee life cycle management has several distinct advantages, including the following:   

Better employee experience  

A well-designed ELC creates a positive employee experience through recognition and personalized support. It also allows employers to address their team's specific needs at various stages of employment. By acknowledging that employees require different support depending on their stage, the ELC helps staff feel valued and motivated.

For instance, detailed, hands-on onboarding programs help new hires integrate into their roles more quickly and effectively. For long-term employees, providing opportunities to refine their skills, learn new ones, and advance their careers helps align their growth with their personal goals.

Managing the ELC to continually engage staff members fosters a strong emotional connection to the company. This connection drives performance and commitment, enabling employees and leadership to grow together.

Talent retention 

Understanding each stage of the employee journey helps companies create employee-centric work environments. This approach fosters employee commitment, reduces turnover rates, and saves businesses money on recruiting, hiring, and training. By outlining potential professional development paths for new hires, companies can show them a clear future within the organization, increasing their likelihood of staying long-term. According to Glassdoor, strengthening the onboarding stage of the ELC can boost employee retention by 82%.

Improved productivity  

By mapping out each stage of an employee's journey, the ELC enables HR to develop and implement targeted strategies tailored to their team's needs, thereby boosting productivity. This proactive approach provides employees with the necessary resources when, how, and where they need them, allowing them to focus on job performance. For example, sales employees might benefit from client feedback and advanced negotiation training, while engineering staff might prefer access to and training on the latest software.

Better reputation 

A well-implemented ELC allows companies to continually identify and address areas for improvement. By refining processes and addressing current employees' concerns, companies can enhance operations and increase employee satisfaction. Happy employees often share their positive experiences, helping the organization attract and retain new talent.

Manage the employee life cycle with Oyster  

Creating, managing, and optimizing the ELC is vital for organizational success. HR management software like Oyster simplifies this process, offering tools to efficiently manage every stage for staff in over 180 countries. Oyster's global employment platform streamlines the entire employee journey—from recruitment and onboarding to development and retention—ensuring a seamless experience for both HR teams and staff members.

Discover how Oyster can revolutionize your approach to HR, attract top talent, and drive organizational growth beyond borders.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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