How to create an employee lifecycle plan

TL;DR: An employee lifecycle plan allows you to oversee and support team members throughout their entire time with your organization, from recruitment to offboarding. You can use it to promote engagement, development, and performance during all the different phases, which makes it a crucial retention strategy. 

This playbook offers a step-by-step guide that’ll guide you in implementing an employee lifecycle plan for your company and suggests best practices for each step of team members’ professional journeys.

You might find that in some instances, your people initiatives are super successful, and yet sometimes they just don’t work out in the way you hoped. Why does this happen? One major factor to consider is the phase of the employee lifecycle people are in. That’s because it can significantly impact their aims, priorities, and challenges, which makes where they’re at in their professional journey a crucial consideration. 

Gaining insight into every stage of the employee experience — from initial attraction to transition and eventual offboarding — can help you tailor and carry out your strategies more effectively. 

This playbook on employee lifecycle plans breaks down their benefits and the tools you need, as well as taking you through a step-by-step process to implement one at your company.

What is an employee lifecycle plan?

An employee lifecycle plan is a roadmap that covers a staff member’s journey from the initial connection and preboarding experience through to their eventual transition or departure. There are typically six stages, including:

  • Attraction and recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Retention
  • Development
  • Fulfillment
  • Transition and offboarding

You can use lifecycle plans to analyze the employee experience at different stages within your company. With a better understanding of these phases, you can develop targeted strategies to engage, empower, and enable teams, driving continuous growth and success.

A graphic showing the stages of the employee lifecycle.

Analyzing the employee lifecycle gives you insight into what team members experience throughout their time with your company

What is the importance & purpose of a lifecycle plan?

Lifecycle plans give you unique insights into what employees prioritize at different phases in their tenure with your company. As a result, they empower human resources and people teams to create more personalized, relevant engagement, development, and performance strategies.

For instance, imagine two team members who have similar experience levels, qualifications, and skill sets. However, you hired one four months ago, and the other has worked for your organization for several years. If you launched a company-wide training program, you’d allocate more time for the former as they’d be less familiar with your processes and require more time to learn the context and background in which to integrate the new information.

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Wann Sie dieses Playbook verwenden sollten

When to use
this playbook

Any organization can benefit from an employee lifecycle plan as it allows human resources professionals and people teams to uncover areas for improvement and strategize on the most effective and high-impact changes to make. However, they’re especially well-suited to:

  • New companies and startups that want to take a structured approach to the employee experience from day one
  • Businesses that are undergoing a transition, such as a merger or acquisition, and want to anticipate resulting internal shifts more effectively
  • Organizations that are struggling with issues like disengagement, lower-than-expected performance, and high turnover rates
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Was Sie für dieses Playbook benötigen

What you’ll need for
this playbook

  • Reporting and analytics tools:
    Gathering and analyzing essential data throughout the employee lifecycle makes for more informed decisions. For instance, performance review feedback on recent joiners can show when they are fully settled into their new positions and therefore indicate when the onboarding phase has ended.
  • Employee surveys:
    Questionnaires allow teams to share qualitative and quantitative data about their needs, aims, and obstacles at each lifecycle stage.
  • An empathetic mindset:
    Understanding what employees experience at different moments throughout their careers enables HR teams to tailor their initiatives related to recruitment, engagement, and retention more effectively. For example, say you want to prioritize hiring staff that will be a culture add. A great way to do this is to first envision what your ideal candidates would be looking for in job postings and then retroactively build them out with that in mind.
Hinweise & Tipps
  • Keep a big-picture perspective — Taking a comprehensive, forward-thinking approach helps you look beyond immediate needs to see how each stage in the employee lifecycle interrelates and how your plan could have a meaningful, long-term impact.
  • Never lose sight of individuals — While lifecycle plans focus on people’s priorities at different times, they should also be a key opportunity to focus on individual team members’ unique needs and preferences. For instance, it’s essential to consider a person’s lifecycle stage alongside other factors, including role, demographics, interests, and experience level.

  • Revisit your plan — Businesses evolve so that lifecycle plans can become outdated quickly. If your company doesn’t require immediate employee experience (EX) analysis due to growth, changes, or other issues, aim to conduct an annual review to ensure your plan is still relevant to the current EX.
  • Be open to change — During tumultuous times, you may develop and consult an employee lifecycle plan in an attempt to return to the status quo. However, this tool is best suited to helping companies pivot, adapt to change, and continue to thrive. Lauren Gardener, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft says, “The world that we once knew is not coming back. It’s different now, and we must embrace it, or at least be open to new approaches to succeed.”

How to run this People Ops Playbook:

Wie Sie dieses People Ops Playbook durchführen:

1. Make your first impression count:
The attraction & recruitment stage

Recruitment plays a vital role in the employee lifecycle as it sets the tone for each individual’s experience with your organization. How you interact with candidates, from the initial job advertisement to your formal offer, gives them a glimpse at your culture, mission, and values.

That means a well-executed hiring and recruitment process not only finds the best candidates to fill open positions but also shapes their expectations. Every applicant should have a positive recruitment experience — regardless of the outcome — and understand how they could add to your organization’s culture.

The question is: How can you develop a public image and hiring process that makes a good impression on everyone who comes into contact with it? Talent Board’s report on candidate experience found that businesses have higher ratings when they:

  • Tailor job advertising.
    Companies that research their ideal candidates and provide them with highly relevant information have a 31% higher net promoter score (NPS) than those that don’t.
  • Communicate promptly and consistently.
    Telling candidates when they can expect to hear from you and responding to them regularly reduces the stress of waiting and shows you respect their time.
  • Prioritize ethics and fairness.
    For applicants to view your company as a progressive, people-centered, and equitable workplace, it’s essential to take measures to eliminate unconscious bias and show that you advocate for underrepresented groups like people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Ask for and provide feedback.
    Briefly explaining the why behind unsuccessful applications can reaffirm that your hiring process is fair and equip candidates with actionable advice they can use to their benefit in the future. You can also prompt applicants to share constructive criticism about their recruitment experience to see what you can improve and show you value their opinion.

Although initial attraction and recruitment is often the shortest stage in the employee lifecycle, it has a lasting impact on engagement and retention. Indeed, the companies that Talent Board surveyed found the above best practices made candidates 87% more committed to their new roles.

A photo of a manager shaking hands with a candidate during an interview.

How you present your organization to job seekers not only determines whether they’ll accept a job offer but sets the tone for their experience

2. Don’t stop rolling out the red carpet:
The onboarding stage

While recruitment and hiring make a strong impact on each employee’s initial impression, onboarding lays the foundation for their professional journey with your company. This step is when new team members familiarize themselves with the organizational culture and start acquiring and building the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to thrive in their roles.

Onboarding is also key to the new employee experience — companies with an “exceptional” process are 2.6 times more likely to have engaged teams. 

Consider these top best practices for an effective onboarding process:

  • Pay attention to preboarding.
    New team members are 91% more committed to their new positions when companies send them information and give them a chance to ask questions ahead of their start date.
  • Get the entire team involved.
    Introducing new hires to their colleagues helps them settle in faster, allows them to start forging interpersonal connections, and gives them the opportunity to learn about the company culture firsthand. As they say: Show, don’t tell.
  • Hold regular 1:1 check-ins.
    Gallup estimates that the onboarding process lasts 12 months, as that’s how long the average new team member needs to reach their full potential. When managers hold regular meetings with their reports during that time, it means they avoid losing sight of individuals over time and can be more intentional about how they provide support.
  • Structure the onboarding process.
    Breaking it into manageable steps can help employees move through their initial stages with the organization more efficiently. Leapsome’s Onboarding module enables you to create custom learning paths for each new hire, complete with personalized objectives and progress bars.

3. Keep the momentum going:
The retention stage

Once new employees have settled into their positions, their focus shifts from learning about the company to excelling at their roles. As a result, people ops and human resources teams need to start focusing on keeping them motivated and performing at their best so they continue to feel satisfied and challenged while enjoying their work.

Indeed, the benefits they can reap from doing so go beyond the employee experience. For example, businesses with engaged teams enjoy up to 10% more customer loyalty, 23% more profitability, and 43% less turnover. 

To drive job satisfaction, performance, and retention, keep these engagement strategies in mind:

  • Establish transparent processes.
    Our research showed that over half of professionals want extra clarity over appraisals, promotions, and compensation. Leapsome can build transparency into your performance management strategy with automated cycles, data-driven insights, and meeting notes. Our Compensation module also has collaboration tools, so various stakeholders can easily leave feedback on decisions concerning promotions and pay raises.  
  • Provide opportunities to develop skills.
    54% of employees said more upskilling would make them feel more engaged at work, so if you aren’t already, prioritize investing in learning and development. Then, you can create a custom learning library and direct team members to resources to help them excel.
  • Use technology effectively.
    Software can facilitate sleek, intuitive workflows that eliminate repetitive, unengaging tasks, but only if they have the right tools. According to a Microsoft report, teams think technology is most useful when there’s more access to collaborative tools (64%), employee buy-in (74%), and more automation and AI (89%).
  • Conduct engagement surveys.
    Using questionnaires to collect anonymous feedback can uncover opportunities to motivate team members and drive engagement. Using your Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), you can benchmark your data against other businesses to see whether your overall engagement levels are high or require extra focus.
  • Build a feedback culture.
    Meaningful, honest feedback makes employees four times more likely to be engaged. In addition, Gallup advises leaders to ensure feedback is frequent, specific, and future-focused to be effective. You can also encourage this kind of culture by enabling teams to give instant praise and constructive criticism with Leapsome’s Feedback feature.

4. Move onwards, upwards & sometimes sideways:
The development stage

People will inevitably become restless after spending time in the same position and will want to advance professionally. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will be interested in a promotion. Some team members may want to make lateral moves, while others prefer undertaking additional training or specializing further in their current roles.

No matter the reason, career development is crucial to the employee experience. In fact, 63% of resignations are due to a lack of advancement opportunities.

You can use the following best practices to enhance the career development opportunities within your organization:

  • Make development continuous.
    While staff members may change their focus during their lifecycles, 76% agree that their ideal job would extend ongoing training. Consider offering regular workshops, mentoring, and access to online learning platforms to provide your people with robust learning and development options.
  • Use a competency framework.
    Defining and visualizing the skills employees need to progress empowers them as they can see exactly what it takes to move forward. These frameworks also give your company a single source of truth that managers can refer back to and use to keep promotional decisions fair, transparent, and consistent.
  • Explain how to advance.
    Goals are only useful when people understand what steps they need to take to fully realize them. That’s why you should explain your organization’s promotional criteria by using career pathways and development talks

5. Find the ‘I’ in team:
The fulfillment stage

Once employees establish an enjoyable, sustainable pattern with development and performance, they may turn their attention to fulfillment. This is especially true for employees that have been in their role for a significant period. These team members may require extra emphasis on recognition, motivation, and wellness initiatives to maintain high levels of job satisfaction.

Here’s how to prioritize team member well-being for those in the fulfillment stage and beyond:

  • Champion work-life balance.
    Companies shouldn’t only offer generous paid time off, ample breaks, and flexible work arrangements but also encourage staff to make full use of them. That way, employees, especially those with remote arrangements, will find it easier to detach themselves from the office and relax.
  • Conduct a wellness survey.
    Anonymous questionnaires can uncover issues in the workplace and give insight into the benefits employees need to thrive, whether that’s a specific health and wellness stipend or Friday afternoons off. 
  • Invest in recognition.
    Effective praise and acknowledgment make team members 56% less likely to search for other career opportunities. Gallup says that recognition is most impactful when it’s immediate, authentic, and personalized, but they add that less than a third of employees find it meets their needs. Leapsome’s Instant Feedback module can strengthen your company culture and overall workplace experience by making it easy to exchange public praise.

When thinking about which benefits will motivate your team the most, a recent survey by Forbes found the following were among the most popular:

  • Flexible working hours
  • Work-from-home options
  • Discounts 
  • Professional development
  • Four-day work weeks

6. Moving on:
The transition & offboarding stage

Everyone leaves their job eventually, whether that’s to pursue new career opportunities, to continue their education, or because they’re approaching retirement. 

Whatever the reason, these transitions often spark mixed emotions throughout companies. You can make them smoother by preparing a structured offboarding stage with an exit interview and an appropriate farewell.

However, resignations are rarely true goodbyes. Employees that have strong relationships with their colleagues may revisit organizations for referrals, guidance, and even different professional opportunities in the future. Likewise, managers and people teams might reconnect with former team members to network, collaborate, or extend a new job offer.

To ensure a streamlined, people-centered approach to offboarding, here are some best practices:

  • Develop a formalized process.
    Similar to onboarding, offboarding may overwhelm employees. A step-by-step plan can alleviate stress for the whole team by showing them what tasks they need to complete in the days before a coworker leaves.
  • Offer support and guidance.
    Managers should check in with reports regularly and guide them through challenges, such as paperwork and handing over clients. This also helps avoid issues like incomplete knowledge transfers and client confusion.
  • Say thank you — Recognition shouldn’t end when contracts do. Sending team members a thank you card highlighting their time with the organization shows you value their work and professional contributions, even if they’re moving on.
  • Hold an exit interview — Conducting exit interviews gives you insights into your company’s employee experience, especially possible causes of turnover. Relevant, specific questions like: “What opportunities for development and growth would you have benefitted from?” help you improve and enrich your organization as a workplace rather than simply focusing on finding fault. 
🔎 Want to create an exceptional offboarding experience? Download Leapsome’s exit interview template, complete with best-practice questions.

How Leapsome supports the employee lifecycle

Leapsome’s comprehensive people enablement solution powers employees at all stages of the lifecycle. Our highly customizable features enable you to tailor engagement, performance, and development strategies to individuals, whether they’re new hires or tenured employees. 

That’s because forward-thinking people teams know that engagement, development, and performance never lose priority. They simply change focus.

🎈 Elevate your people, from onboarding to offboarding 

Leapsome’s holistic people enablement software drives engagement, performance, and development at all stages of the lifecycle.

👉 Book a demo
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the employee lifecycle?

The employee lifecycle is the journey a staff member goes through with your organization, from the moment they consider applying for a position to their eventual departure. It encompasses the following stages:

  • Attraction and recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Retention
  • Development
  • Fulfillment
  • Transition and offboarding

2. Why is understanding the employee lifecycle important?

Understanding the employee lifecycle is important because it provides insight into what team members feel, go through, and experience at different points throughout their tenure. You can identify factors that impact engagement levels, productivity, and retention. For instance, employees with years of experience under their belt may react less enthusiastically to annual company events than new hires as they’ve already attended many of them.

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