The employee life cycle model represents the journey your workers take from the moment they connect with your brand until the moment they leave your organization. 

Understanding the employee lifecycle is critical in creating an effective employee experience strategy. By dissecting the various moments that shape your employee's experience, you can begin to identify "experience gaps" and create strategies to close them. A solid understanding of the systems that underpin your framework will help you mitigate bias at each stage and identify non-inclusive practices.

In this article, we will delve into the stages that make up the employee life cycle and explore the importance of each step.

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understanding the employee life cycle stages

The employee lifecycle model usually consists of seven stages, starting with attraction and ending with retirement or termination. Although this might vary depending on your specific business, the following is generally recognized as the standard for an employee lifecycle model:

1. attraction 

The employee experience begins well before an employee’s first day on the job. Typically, the initial contact is made through job postings, referrals or social media posts. The primary objective is to captivate their interest and make a positive first impression.

To succeed at this stage, it’s essential to write an engaging job posting that includes the following elements:

  • accurate description: Your job posting should offer an accurate depiction of the role and what it’s like to work for the company.
  • inclusive language: Job postings should be free of any discriminatory or exclusive language. For example, be sure to use gender-neutral terms in all job postings.
  • multi-channel strategies: A multi-channel approach to talent attraction can expand the reach of your job posting and significantly increase your talent pool.  

How your organization positions itself during the attraction stage has a direct impact on your hiring outcome. This makes building a strong employer brand essential. Your brand should infuse elements of your company’s main mission and goals, resonating deeply with today’s workers.

2. application

Once you’ve caught the attention of prospective candidates, the next step is to convince them to apply for your open positions. There are several steps to this phase of the employee journey, including:

  • application: The formal document or online form that individuals submit to express their interest in a job or position 
  • candidate screening: This step involves reviewing resumes and evaluating job applicants to determine their suitability for a particular position.
  • skills assessment tests: The bespoke evaluations you can use to gauge an individual's ability to do a particular task
  • Interview: The structured conversation between the employer and the applicant, aimed at determining whether the candidate possesses the necessary skills, qualifications and fit for the role. 
  • background and reference checks:  A background check is a thorough investigation into a candidate's history, which may include verifying their identity, checking for any criminal records or reviewing their employment and education history. On the other hand, reference checks involve contacting the candidate's previous employers, colleagues, and other professional contacts to gather feedback on their performance, work ethic, and interpersonal skills
  • decision and job offer: In this stage, a candidate has been chosen and an employment offer is extended.

3. onboarding

The onboarding stage runs from the time a candidate accepts the job offer until the candidate fully assimilates into their role. New hires are typically excited to begin their new job. This is your chance to build on this excitement by introducing the employee to your company values and mission.

Unfortunately, 88% of employees believe their employers did a poor job with the onboarding process. This indicates a missed opportunity for many employers. To avoid this issue, it’s crucial to implement a well-designed onboarding process that allows ample time for new hires to assimilate into the company culture and their respective roles. Nex to this, a successful onboarding process should incorporate these  building blocks:  

  • connection: providing guidance about interpersonal relationships and information networks that can enable career success
  • culture: fostering a sense of community by educating them about the organization’s values, beliefs, goals, mission and behaviors
  • clarification: taking the time to make sure employees understand their new jobs and related expectations
  • compliance: ensuring new employees understand basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations
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Learn more about the employee journey by downloading our employee life cycle model now.

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4. development and growth

Our 2023 Employer Brand Research report shows that 73% of global workers consider career growth very important and it remains one of the top drivers for job seekers. The harsh reality is that if you don’t provide ample training and advancement opportunities within your organization, many of your best employees will leave.

Creating a comprehensive employee training and development program can prevent this by encouraging your workers to grow their careers with your company. A well-designed training and development program should be:

  • transparent
  • fair and unbiased
  • company-wide
  • structured

A training and development plan with these main components enables workers to see a clear path to advancement, which can enhance the employee experience. 

5. performance management and feedback

The first thing you might think about when considering the performance management and feedback stage is annual performance reviews. If your company relies solely on these reviews to guide your workers through the employee life cycle, it's at risk for higher turnover rates. A recent survey of U.S. workers shows that 92% want feedback more than once a year.

Imagine working for a year with a company only to find out through the annual performance review that you’ve been doing something wrong. However, no one told you or you never clearly understood the expectations of the job. It’s easy to see how frustrating this could be for your workers.

Fortunately, today’s technology makes it easier than ever to provide both feedback and employee recognition. Rather than waiting an entire year to give your workers the feedback they crave, this technology allows your teams to provide immediate feedback and recognition. Immediate feedback allows your managers and supervisors to quickly address wrong or negative behaviors while rewarding positive performance.

However, frequent performance management can only be effective if the feedback is meaningful, unbiased and engaging. Otherwise, this feedback can backfire on you and leave your workers even more frustrated. For this reason, it’s important to provide managers with training pertaining to performance management, feedback and recognition.


6. retention and engagement

Retention and engagement go hand-in-hand. It can be nearly impossible to maintain high retention rates without also focusing on employee engagement. Therefore, this stage of the employee life cycle is about developing engagement strategies to encourage workers to stick with your company. For instance, some of these strategies may include: 

  • connection and communication: Effective communication is a core component of employee engagement. In fact, without open and transparent communication, it can be difficult to build trust between employers and their employees. To enhance communication, consider holding regular company-wide meetings to share organizational goals and achievements.
  • strong leaders: Leaders in the company, especially managers, play a pivotal role in developing a culture of engagement. It’s crucial to create a process that ensures the right workers are put in the right manager positions.
  • employee recognition: For years, studies have suggested a strong correlation between employee recognition and workplace engagement. For employee recognition to play a pivotal role in enhancing employee engagement, you must develop, implement and monitor a comprehensive employee recognition program that targets employees at all levels within the company. 

7. exit and offboarding

You might think that once an employee turns in their notice to end employment, the employee journey no longer matters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether the termination is amicable or not, how you handle the employee's last few days could have serious repercussions.

First, the employee may not be happy in their new role. If they were a good employee, rehiring them could benefit your company. Secondly, depending on your industry, the employee may still be a customer. A negative exit process could cause you to lose this employee as a customer too. Third, it’s becoming much more common for companies to form an alumni network in order to expand their talent pool.

Finally, ex-employees always have the option of leaving reviews across numerous employer review sites describing their experience with the company. Studies show that one-in-three candidates have turned down job offers due to bad online reviews. Just one bad online review could jeopardize your recruitment efforts.

The main objective of the offboarding process is to ensure a seamless exit for the employee by providing the worker with all the information they need, including a contact person for any follow-up questions they may have. You can also take this opportunity to gather some insights into why the employee is leaving. While exit surveys can certainly help you gather plenty of information, one-on-one exit interviews can help you address some of these issues and reduce the risk of further employee departures.

relevate employer

Learn more about the employee journey by downloading our employee life cycle model now.

download employee life cycle
about the author
Wesley Connor - Randstad employee
Wesley Connor - Randstad employee

wesley connor

global head of people experience

Wesley is a Master Facilitator and certified leadership, team and executive coach. He has over 20 years of experience creating transformational learning, high performance teams and talent management strategies for multiple industries. With his expertise, he has played a pivotal role in shaping the human capital strategies of organizations across various sizes - from small to medium to large. At Randstad, he is a crucial driver of our digital transformation and leads the company's efforts to enhance the employee experience.

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