What is the employee lifecycle?

The employee lifecycle is a model of the different stages an employee goes through in their time at an organization. It can be broken down into six chronological phases:

  1. Attraction
  2. Recruitment
  3. Onboarding
  4. Retention
  5. Development
  6. Separation

Why should HR leaders care about the employee lifecycle?

Awareness of the employee lifecycle can help HR professionals better understand–and therefore improve–the employee experience at all of its different stages. By helping you improve the employee experience, the employee lifecycle model assists you in attracting better talent and retaining people longer, resulting in a reduction in turnover and its associated costs. It can also improve your reputation in the employment market, helping you attract a talented, driven, and productive workforce. 

How can HR leaders improve their people’s experiences using the employee lifecycle model?

The employee lifecycle model can help companies create and sustain remarkable employee experiences, from the moment the company shows up on a person’s professional radar to recruitment and onboarding to their last day. It’s critical to understand each stage of the cycle and integrate it into your company culture:


The attraction phase begins the moment a person first hears about your organization. In this stage, your employer brand is essential. This is where prospective hires gather critical information about whether or not they want to engage with your company. 

It’s important to think about how you portray your employer brand. To attract the right kinds of talent, focus on what makes your company stand out (exceptional benefits, hybrid and flexible work structures, unique growth opportunities, etc.) and put it front and center in your job ads and employer branding campaigns.


Although most interactions at the recruitment stage most likely won’t result in a hire, it’s still important to craft a positive recruitment experience–both for your reputation as an employer and to give new hires an excellent first impression.

Make sure to consider how you treat people during all parts of recruitment, including email and phone communications, interviews, and job offers or rejections. Remain respectful and professional even if somebody is not a good fit.


The onboarding stage is invaluable in helping new people get started on the right foot with learning processes, internalizing company values, and building relationships. You can help integrate your new hires through things like a new hire buddy system, personalized welcome kits, first-day team lunches, clear and effective training, and regular manager check-ins. 


The importance of the retention stage should not be downplayed, as many organizations emphasize the earlier stages and lack focus on retention. The effort to keep people productive and employed is tied closely to employee satisfaction and engagement issues and includes initiatives related to rewards and recognition.

Modern HR trends suggest that sufficient flexibility and work-life balance, a sense of greater purpose, and opportunities for growth all significantly contribute to job satisfaction and retention.


Development is vital to encouraging employee satisfaction and helping upskill your workforce. Rather than a traditional yearly formal performance review, modern HR strategies focus on ongoing performance management that keeps lines of communication open and makes room for growth year-round.


Ultimately, the employee lifecycle ends in the separation phase, in which people leave the organization. This can occur for various reasons, ranging from retirement to recruitment by competitors to seeking opportunities that are unavailable at your company.

Whatever the case may be, offboarding is an essential opportunity for your organization to reflect upon where there may be room for improvement in the employee experience. Craft an offboarding process that gives people the opportunity to speak candidly about their experiences, both positive and negative. This is crucial feedback you can use to help improve all stages of the employee lifecycle.

Why should the employee lifecycle be a part of the modern HR strategy?

The employee lifecycle allows you to better understand people’s experiences as they grow with your organization, revealing a variety of opportunities to improve the employee experience, employee engagement and satisfaction, productivity, retention rates, and hiring success.