The Full Employee Life Cycle: All Stages

Employee Life Cycle

The complete employee life cycle is made up of multiple different stages. Understanding how each stage in the employee life cycle works is the best way to make sure your employees are engaged and invested throughout that stage.

So in this post we will be covering the definition of the employee life cycle, also referred to as ELC, what each stage in it stands for, as well as best practices for each and every one of those stages in the ELC.

The 7 Stages of the employee life cycle

What is the employee life cycle?

The employee life cycle is an HR model that identifies the different stages an employee goes through during their tenure at an organization.

Understanding how each of these stages plays an integral role in building the perfect environment for your employees and enhancing the employee experience in your organization.

An ELC where employees are engaged throughout the entire process, not only increases employee retention rates and lowers employee attrition, but also creates a company culture that attracts some of the top talent in the field.

Creating a workplace where each stage of the ELC is perfected also helps talent development, ensuring that employees can see that there is room for career advancement and that employers can practice succession planning effectively.

What are the stages of the employee life cycle?

While there are multiple different takes on the employee life cycle and its stages, there are seven universally agreed-upon stages of the employee life cycle. Those stages are:

1. Talent Attraction
2. Recruitment
3. Onboarding
4. Engagement & Retention
5. Talent Development
6. Employee Offboarding
7. Advocacy

As we go over these stages in the ELC, we will not only provide you with definitions, best practices, and key metrics to track during the stage but also some of the most useful tools you can use during that stage to improve those key metrics.

Stage 1: Attraction

The first stage of the employee life cycle is attraction. Attraction refers to the period of time before the employee interacts directly with the organization.

The attraction stage relies heavily on an organization’s ability to build a strong employer brand. An organization with a strong employer brand doesn’t need to have job postings for people to want to work there.

A company with a strong employer brand is already followed by all the top talent in the field. It is a destination that everybody wants to end up in eventually.

Examples of Companies with Strong Employer Brands

Google: Google consistently ranks at the top in employer branding. Surprisingly enough, they never even needed the help from Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn’s help to accomplish that. In fact, that might have even lowered their chances.

Known for its innovative culture, competitive salaries, and exceptional perks, Google sets a high standard for what employees expect from a top-tier employer. They’re also known for their commitment to diversity and inclusion, alongside continuous learning and development opportunities.

Netflix: Known for its unique culture deck, which emphasizes freedom, responsibility, and high performance, Netflix offers an environment where creativity and innovation are at the forefront. Their approach to performance and compensation, along with the freedom to make impactful decisions, draws in many professionals.

While Google and Netflix are also helped by their spot as some of the most well-known brands to ever exist in order to be attractive to talent, there are examples that don’t have the same fame yet rank far above them on the great places to work list

While some organizations may rely solely upon name recognition to be attractive to talent with the number of online discussions and data out there, having a high score on “Great Place To Work” can take a company’s reputation above those that are more popular.

AppLovin: With such a wide array of positive testimonials available, alongside a 94% on their great place-to-work page, AppLovin has built an amazing brand as an employer. Their employees state proudly that they feel welcome, cared for, and empowered to be working as a part of AppLovin.

Codeway: Codeway has taken an entirely different approach to being attractive to talent. Through an incredibly effective use of their social media channels and vlog series, they’ve ensured that their company is viewed as an attractive destination for talent.

Building a strong employer brand

Best Practices for Talent Attraction

Define Your Value Proposition: Clearly articulate what makes your company unique as an employer. This includes your company culture, values, mission, and the benefits of working there. Understanding what sets you apart will help you communicate a consistent message.

Leverage Social Media: Utilize social media platforms to showcase your company culture, celebrate successes, and share insights into what it’s like to work at your company. Consistent and positive social media presence can attract potential candidates and build your employer brand.

Focus on Candidate Experience: Ensure that every touchpoint with potential candidates is positive. This includes clear communication, respectful interactions, and constructive feedback. A positive candidate experience can enhance your employer brand, even for those who don’t end up working for you.

Highlight Career Development Opportunities: Showcase how employees can grow and develop within your company. Career development is a significant attraction for potential employees, so highlight training programs, mentorship, and any other opportunities for growth.

Key Metrics to Track During Talent Attraction

Application Rate: The number of applications received for job openings can indicate your employer brand’s reach and appeal.

Quality of Hire: Assess the quality of new hires by looking at their performance, cultural fit, and retention. A strong employer brand should attract high-quality candidates.

Social Media Engagement: Monitor engagement on your social media posts, including likes, shares, and comments, to measure the reach and impact of your brand messaging.

Stage 2: Recruitment

The second stage of the employee life cycle, recruitment occurs once employees are attracted to the organization.

The recruitment stage is focused on selecting the right candidates for the openings the company might have. The selection process can include methods such as interviews, assessments, and background checks.

Job Postings

The recruitment process begins with the organization posting a job opening on various platforms. Creating a job posting that clearly outlines the descriptions, responsibilities, and required competencies is a must.

The job posting should also include other key factors such as location and travel necessities, whether this is a remote or in-house position, compensation, and benefits, etc.

If a job posting isn’t clear enough it will not only make the position less attractive to top talent, but also heavily increase the application review process by causing misunderstandings in applicants.

A potential checklist for the perfect job posting or opening is as follows:

  1. Job Title:
    • Clear and accurate representation of the role.
    • Avoid jargon or internal terms that may confuse applicants.
  2. Company Overview:
    • Brief introduction to the company.
    • Insight into the company culture, mission, and values.
  3. Role Summary:
    • Overview of the role’s importance within the organization.
    • Clear statement of the main purpose of the role.
  4. Responsibilities and Duties:
    • List of key responsibilities and daily tasks.
    • Clarification on how the role contributes to broader company goals.
  5. Skills and Qualifications:
    • Required qualifications (education, experience, certifications).
    • Desired skills and competencies (technical, soft skills).
    • Distinguish between must-have and nice-to-have qualifications.
  6. Experience Requirements:
    • Specific experience required, detailing years and relevant fields.
    • Clarification on any industry-specific experience needed.
  7. Location and Travel:
    • Workplace location and whether remote work is available.
    • Expected amount of travel, if applicable.
  8. Compensation and Benefits:
    • Salary range or compensation details.
    • Overview of benefits (health insurance, retirement plans, etc.).
    • Any additional perks (flexible hours, wellness programs, etc.).

Candidate Selection

Candidate selection process steps

The candidate selection process, while differing from organization to organization, a universally applicable structure for the candidate selection process should follow these 5 steps.

Step 1: Application Review

The selection process begins with reviewing applications to identify candidates who meet the minimum qualifications. This stage may involve screening resumes, cover letters, and other materials submitted by applicants to determine their suitability for the role.

Step 2: Initial Screening

Often, the next step is an initial screening, which could be a brief phone or video interview. This helps gauge the candidates’ interest, communication skills, and preliminary fit for the position.

Step 3: Assessment and Testing

Depending on the role, candidates may be asked to complete assessments or tests to evaluate their skills, aptitude, and sometimes personality fit for the company culture. These assessments must be carefully designed to be relevant and fair.

Step 4: In-Depth Interviews

Candidates who pass the initial screenings and assessments are then invited for more in-depth interviews. These interviews can be conducted by HR, the hiring manager, and potentially future team members. In-depth candidate interviews aim to explore the candidate’s experience, competencies, and cultural fit in detail.

Step 5: Feedback to Unsuccessful Candidates

It’s a best practice to provide feedback to candidates who were not selected, especially those who reached the later stages of the selection process. Feedback offered to unsuccessful candidates can not only be invaluable to their professional development but it can also do wonders for a company’s employer brand.

Stage 3: Onboarding

Once a candidate has been recruited to the organization, one of the most important stages in the employee life cycle commences: Onboarding!

Onboarding is the stage where new hires are integrated into the organization. It is the acclimatization process between a new recruit and the company.

An effective onboarding process not only ensures the company helps a new hire acclimate to their surroundings and coworkers but also helps train that employee and ensures productivity in the long run.


While a common misconception is that onboarding starts on day one, preboarding is a great way to set the tone for new hires.

It isn’t uncommon for there to be some time between the employee signing the contract and actually joining the company.

During this time, methods such as sending out welcome e-mails, including them on group text chains, and providing them with helpful tools and resources can ensure your new hires feel welcome before day one.

Probationary Period

Onboarding periods in the employee lifecycle also function as a probationary period where both the organization and the employee can decide to sever ties.

A probationary period serves as a trial where the organization assesses whether the employee is a good fit for their culture, organizational strategy, and objectives.

The employee has every right to do the very same thing with the organization.

The most important thing during a probationary period during the employee life cycle is to provide the employee with a positive experience, assign them an onboarding mentor to make sure they never feel lost, and of course take their inputs into consideration throughout the onboarding process.

The probationary period is concluded with a probation review.

Regular Surveys & Reviews

Throughout the onboarding process, it is an absolute necessity to conduct surveys and onboarding reviews regularly.

Regular surveys and onboarding reviews allow the employer to not only evaluate how the new hire is fairing in their organization but also how their organization looks with a fresh pair of eyes.

When it comes to reviews, onboarding reviews are often conducted at 30-60-90-day intervals.

Surveys on the other hand can be conducted at any interval or even instantaneously.

The best way to conduct onboarding surveys, 30-60-90 day reviews, and assign onboarding tasks is to take advantage of employee onboarding software.

The Perfect Onboarding Software: Teamflect

In order to make sure the onboarding stage of the employee life cycle goes flawlessly in a structured manner, the best thing you can do is to implement a fully integrated employee onboarding solution.

While there are some great options out there, the best onboarding tool for organizations using Microsoft Teams or Outlook regularly would be Teamflect.

Onboarding tasks in Teamflect

Teamflect allows users to not only conduct onboarding surveys but also automate them to be conducted at any interval of their choice right inside Microsoft Teams.

With Teamflect you can also create custom sets of onboarding tasks for each department and make sure they are assigned automatically when a new hire joins their ranks.

With an extensive library of customizable performance review templates that include onboarding reviews, Teamflect ensures a smooth and seamless onboarding experience.

Create automated onboarding tasks inside Microsoft Teams!
No sign-up required.
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Stage 4: Engagement & Retention

Once the onboarding process is complete, the stages in the employee lifecycle from here to offboarding tend to get a bit murky.

Up until the engagement & retention stage in the employee life cycle, the whole process followed a linear progression with attraction, recruitment, and onboarding.

While the previous steps included some relatively standard practices for various organizations across the board, the engagement and retention stage not only changes from organization to organization but depends heavily on each individual.

That being said, this is the stage in an employee’s life cycle with the company where the organization aims to keep them engaged, in order to retain them.

Creating A Positive & Engaging Culture

Building an organizational culture that not only fosters employee engagement but also makes sure you retain your talent is easier said than done.

Some of the most common and most heavily discussed building blocks of creating an engaging company culture may include the following practices:

  • Offering Competitive Salary And Benefits: At the end of the day, nobody is working at a company just for the sake of it. No matter how many e-mails you send about the company actually being a family, it isn’t. Salary and benefits are often the true motivators. Without this particular step, the other employee engagement practices won’t matter that much.

  • Flexible Working Arrangements: We are slowly but surely witnessing the death of the conventional workweek as well as the classic office setup. Taking the lead on building a flexible organization can really help score some points with employees.

  • Employee Rewards & Recognition: Implementing a rewards and recognition program can help increase employee engagement rates in your organization heavily. There are plenty of monetary and non-monetary incentives organizations can offer employees to boost motivation and drive engagement.

Rewards and recognition function best when they are integrated into your everyday performance management and communication platforms. This is where once again, Teamflect can help as the best engagement platform in Microsoft Teams.

  • Send customizable recognition badges through Teams chat!
  • Build a custom rewards catalog!
  • Measure employee engagement through intuitive survey templates!
  • Create live recognition feeds and dynamic leaderboards to drive performance!
Praise your employees inside Microsoft Teams!
No sign-up required.
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Stage 5: Talent Development

Stages 4 and 5 of the employee life cycle are usually interchangeable. While they are not fully chronological, they both take place during an employee’s tenure with an organization and play a crucial role in ensuring their long-term success as a part of that company.

The talent development stage of the employee life cycle refers to the investment an organization makes in its employees’ skills, knowledge, and competencies.

Talent development doesn’t just help organizations build more competent teams but also shows helps boost engagement and increase employee loyalty.

Before this stage in the employee life cycle, it is crucial that the organization has an employee competency framework for each role, in order to map out the necessary skills their employees may need to develop.

Training Opportunities

Investing in training opportunities is the simplest and often the first thought of approach to talent development and there is nothing wrong with that.

There are plenty of incredible training programs offered both in person and online today. In fact we’ve highlighted some of the best online training programs your team can sign up for in this article: Best Viva Learning Courses.

While external training programs can prove effective, looking internally for training opportunities can help even more. Let your team, teach each other.

Organizing workshops lead by members of your team or forming employee mentorship and buddy programs among your team is a great way to strengthen bonds among your team members.

In the video below, you will find a detailed tutorial on how you can use Microsoft Teams as a platform for your employee mentoring programs:

Succession Planning & Career Pathing

Talent development should always have a goal in mind. Development with no career advancement prospects is basically your organization training employees for their future jobs elsewhere.

It is an objective and well-known fact that considering internal hires for promotions is far more beneficial for organizations than filling that role externally.

This is why the development stage of the employee life cycle has to be supplemented with succession planning and career pathing.

A great way to see where everyone in your team stands in relation to each other, organizational objectives, and individual development plans, is to use the 9-box talent grid.

Teamflect's 9-Box Talent Grid
Teamflect’s 9-Box Talent Grid

Placing your entire team on the 9-box talent grid and seeing where everybody ranks in relation to each other in terms of potential and performance can make those succession planning decisions a lot easier!

Integrating them into performance appraisals is often the best practice when it comes to using them effectively.

Use the best performance review software for Microsoft Teams.
No sign-up required.
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Stage 6: Employee Offboarding

In an ideal world, there is no stage 6 or 7 to the employee life cycle. Unless we are talking about project-based or freelance hires, no employee is recruited with the intention of being offboarded later on. That being said, departures are a natural part of the workplace.

Regardless of how an employee’s tenure within your organization is ending, it is key to make sure the relationship is ended on good terms.

That is why the sixth stage of the employee life cycle, employee offboarding, is centered on all the necessary procedures that need to be taken in order to complete an employee’s time with an organization smoothly.

Employee Offboarding Checklist

The first aspect of employee offboarding concerns the legal side. There is a relatively large list of things that need to be checked off before an employee’s departure from an organization. That is why having an employee offboarding checklist is a simple best practice.

Here is a sample offboarding checklist for the sixth stage of your employee life cycle:

Employee offboarding checklist sample

Exit Interviews

The most important section of employee offboarding is the exit interview. Conducting exit interviews effectively has a positive effect on all the other stages of the employee life cycle going forward.

Not only do exit interviews help organizations understand the reasons behind employees leaving their jobs but they also provide insight into the employee experience within the company.

Lessons learned from exit interviews can and should be analyzed and turned into action plans in order to help the organization grow.

Here is a free exit interview template that you can either download and use separately, or better yet, integrate into Microsoft Teams and Outlook:

Employee exit review template

Stage 7: Advocacy

The last stage of the employee life cycle takes place after an employee’s time with the company is over.

What an employee says about an organization after leaving it as a former member of your team has an incredibly strong effect on that company’s employer brand.

The end goal when it comes to any employee life cycle is to provide a really positive experience throughout the entire process so employees have only nice things to say about the company.

What makes the employee life cycle truly a cycle is that the very last stage, advocacy, has the ability to affect the first stage, attraction, greatly.

Written by Emre Ok

Emre is a content writer at Teamflect who aims to share fun and unique insight into the world of performance management.

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