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The 5 stages of the employee lifecycle model

4 min read
Employee lifecycle begins with a prospective candidate looking at your job ad and continues until the day that employee leaves your company.

The lifecycle includes five stages:

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Development
  • Retention
  • Exit

Each of these stages will have established KPIs tied to them that demonstrate the impact on the whole business and ROI. The employee lifecycle stages are interdependent; it’s a mistake to view each in isolation, which is why a holistic overview of the entire employee journey helps HR teams to identify what they can action, at which stage, to have the biggest impact.

Let’s look at the KPIs of each stage and how a lifecycle survey program can help you make improvements.


Considerations here are: time to hire, cost to hire, offer acceptance rate and quality of hire. Were your job ads attractive and clear enough to catch the attention and applications of ideal candidates? Did your interview process excite and reassure great candidates so they quickly accepted a job offer? You’ll be able to find out whether they did by implementing pre-hire surveys and candidate reaction surveys.


It’s a rare hire who can leap into a role and deliver from day one. Most new employees need ‘ramp time’ to get up to speed and become productive in their job. Obviously, the quicker they can do this, the more profitable it is for your company. A new hire needs to be rapidly engaged with their job and given effective training to achieve this. Onboarding feedback surveys and training surveys give your new hires the chance to highlight areas that could be improved.


As the employee develops within their role, you need to quantify their productivity, ability to be a team player and promotion aspirations. 360 Feedback, gathered from an employee’s subordinates, peers and managers, as well as the employee themselves, can help give a fuller picture of what is going well, and what could improve.


It can cost over £30k to replace an employee: hiring temporary cover staff, advertising, recruitment, interviewing, even loss of productivity as the employee winds down before leaving. It makes economic sense for a company to do all it can to keep hold of existing employees. Effective employee engagement surveys will help you gauge whether your employees are happy and if not, what may be causing dissatisfaction, so you can take steps to rectify it. An increase in employee engagement scores have been shown to reduce staff attrition and increase productivity.


Every employee will leave your company at some stage, whether they retire, move to another employer or make a life change. You may think the exit stage has no KPIs, but in fact it is an ideal opportunity to find out why people are leaving the organisation. Leavers may be more candid about why they’re going as they may feel they have nothing to lose. The data from exit surveys can help you understand the reasons why people leave, enabling you to intervene more effectively at the retention stage in the lifecycle, or maybe even earlier, and reduce your staff attrition rate.

Adding to your organisation’s employee lifecycle journey

While the five-stage lifecycle may be typical for most companies, your organisation may have unique touchpoints that matter to your discrete employee journeys. Events worth surveying include:

Change (relocation, premises location, merger, reorganisation)
Recognition (performance reviews)
Milestones and achievements (promotions, role changes, work anniversaries)
Key customer milestones (signing a new customer, customer account reviews)
Emotion (resolving workplace conflict, bereavement, returning from parental leave)

With a holistic employee lifecycle survey program you can simply slot your individual survey requirements into your employee journey. Just make sure your events that matter are:

  • Actionable: your organisation must be able to change and influence them practically
  • Business-relevant: linked to KPIs, offer improvement and give return on investment
  • Common: Shared or commonly-encountered experiences across your employees or major groups within them.

See how you can use Qualtrics at every stage of the employee lifecycle