As with any company or business, employees also experience a life cycle with distinct and actionable phases. Knowing each stage and how it can be leveraged helps leaders and practitioners deliver the best results when implementing business or talent management strategies in any environment.
The employee experience is inextricably linked to engagement, so managing the employee life cycle can be essential for an organization’s performance and growth. I have always found segmenting employee engagement activities by stage during workforce planning produces much better results. You may be asking yourself what the stages are and why they matter, so here is a simple model for a complex topic: hire, inspire, admire and retire.
As the first step of the employee life cycle, it is quite possibly the most important. The law of unintended consequences thrives in this phase. With each new hire, the organization experiences positive or negative impacts to company culture, workforce productivity, client satisfaction and even organizational innovation.
Leverage this stage in the process by communicating frequently with candidates and hiring for attitude or behavior — you can always train for skill, if gaps exist. Hiring a technically skilled employee with a poor personality is clearly not a winning strategy, so look for someone who can elevate the team while playing well with others at the same time. Make sure to turn your onboarding process into an integration process that goes beyond just system access and administrative tasks.
Retention starts with recruitment, so the second phase may be the most difficult. Now that the company has the right people in the right places, it’s time to inspire your workforce to perform to their fullest potential. High performers can produce more than 400% more (registration required) than average employees, so inspire them by removing barriers, granting autonomy and providing them with mentorship.
Leverage this stage by making employees feel like part of the team: Challenge them with realistic goals, and provide opportunities for them to develop and grow. Make sure they feel trusted. Give them purpose, and invest in their individual development.
If other phases of the life cycle seem like a sprint, this one should be viewed as a marathon. Admiring your workforce never ends because it has a direct impact on employee engagement, motivation and satisfaction. It is well known that most employees quit managers, not companies. As Steve Jobs famously said, it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. Give them parameters? Yes. Set goals? Of course. Micromanage? Absolutely not. You hire the most talented people to let them do what they do best, so give them the tools to succeed, and get out of their way.
Leverage this stage by giving employees room to work, constant constructive feedback and rewards or recognition for their achievements. Make sure your employees feel heard, have buy-in whenever possible and have a sense of empowerment.
This phase represents the end game for the employee life cycle. Having employees retire within your company may represent the ultimate organizational success. Variations in workforce generational characteristics may reveal what success looks like, but there is no question of the impact on the company’s brand and bottom line from the long-term retention of employees.
Leverage this stage by soliciting key retirees as mentors and coaches. Retirees with decades of experience can facilitate knowledge transfer, skill development, client relationship-building and employee networking. Lastly, make sure your exit interviews capture the feedback of any departing employees. This insight is invaluable for improving your business and improving future employee retention.
Employees are the lifeblood of any organization. Applying employee life cycle thinking to your talent management process will deliver better performance outcomes, improve the company’s bottom line and grow the organization’s brand as an employer of choice.