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What are Employee Lifecycle Programs?

5 min read
The world’s best employers are increasingly moving towards a lifecycle approach to employee experience - but what is it, and how can you start collecting employee feedback at every moment that matters?

What Is The Employee Lifecycle?

Every employee goes through a series of stages from the day they apply for a job right through to the day they leave. It’s a proven model applied by HR teams around the world known as the employee lifecycle.

It’s typically broken down into 5 clear stages:

  1. Recruitment – this includes all the steps which lead to hiring a new employee.
  2. Onboarding – once a new hire starts, this stage is where they get up to speed with the tools, systems and processes as well as get to grips with expectations in the role.
  3. Development – an ongoing stage in an employee’s lifecycle, with individual employees developing at different rates and across a variety of competencies.
  4. Retention – at this stage, employees are fully ramped and integrated into the company and the goal is then to keep them performing, developing and contributing to the company’s success.
  5. Exit – the final stage of the lifecycle, employees can leave for a whole host of reasons.

The Metrics That Matter at Every Stage

At different stages in the lifecycle, different KPIs are used to monitor and improve the experience as well as link your initiatives and improvements back to the business’ operational metrics, including:

  • Recruitment – Time to hire, Offer acceptance rate, Quality of Hire, Cost to hire
  • Onboarding – Ramp time, New hire engagement, Training effectiveness
  • Development – Productivity, 360 feedback, Promotion rates
  • Retention – Employee engagement, Attrition rate

It’s worth noting here that at ‘Exit’, the goal is not necessarily to attach a specific KPI but instead to gather feedback and data to impact KPIs in the other stages. For example, by using this stage to understand why people are leaving the organisation, you can step in to make improvements in the retention stage to reduce your attrition rate.

While each stage has its own KPIs, they’re all interdependent, with each one having an impact on KPIs in the same and different stages in the lifecycle.

Take ramp time as an example, a shortened ramp time is not only going to have the obvious impact on productivity but will affect engagement too. Similarly, an increase in employee engagement has been shown to reduce attrition and increase productivity.

Viewing these KPIs in silos risks underestimating their impact on the organisation’s core operational metrics. But when viewed together as a holistic data set, HR teams can start to see the combined impact of improvements across the lifecycle and identify which actions will have the biggest impact on the business as a whole.

Optimising Your HR KPIs Through Lifecycle Feedback

The various KPIs at every stage in the lifecycle are how you demonstrate value to leadership and make the link between your HR initiatives and the core financial or operational metrics of the organisation.

But how do you improve the KPIs at each stage? The answer lies in collecting employee feedback at every stage and analysing it as a holistic data set. This allows you to map out the experience for employees from interview to exit and identify the relationships between the different activities at each stage.

Here are some of the most common feedback mechanisms we see at different stages:


  • Pre-hire surveys
  • Candidate reaction surveys



  • 360 development feedback
  • Always-on feedback



Even within that set, there is plenty of variation – for example, while some organisations still run an annual engagement survey alongside their other lifecycle feedback mechanisms, others have moved to shorter, quarterly feedback pulses to keep a more regular eye on their engagement metrics.

And while there are best practices templates for all of the mechanisms listed above, there are no hard and fast rules about when to gather feedback – essentially, if it matters to your employees, it’s a good opportunity to gather feedback.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with an employee experience expert today or view our related webinar below. Learn how to improve every stage of the employee lifecycle with our guide to employee experience.

Understanding Employee Lifecycle Feedback