In a previous role I had cause to draw up an employee lifecycle. Despite my years in HR up until that point, it wasn’t something that had ever occurred to me to do.
The driving force was an idea to support managers through the various people-related matters to which they needed to attend. The employee lifecycle would provide the structure for a platform containing information and resources that our managers could draw upon on demand.
After a bit of googlising, it struck me that there is no one standard model of the employee lifecycle. I found this surprising as the basics of the employee experience – and the HR functions that correspond to them – are arguably similar across jobs, organisations and industries.
Moreover, some of the models I found were either overly complicated (in my opinion) or they were presented in an illogical manner. In any case they didn’t quite suit my needs, so I decided to draw up my own.
After much thinking and reflection, I realised the employee lifecycle can be distilled into just four main parts: (1) Recruitment; (2) Onboarding; (3) Performance; and (4) Offboarding. Of course the employee experience is more complex than that, but it is within these four parts that the complexities reside.
I call this model the 4 Part Employee Lifecycle.
While some other models of the employee lifecycle start with “Attraction”, I consider this a subset of recruitment, along with other activities such as interviewing and selection. Diversity may also reside in this part.
Onboarding concerns the bringing up to speed of the new recruit, and it may include a combination of pre-boarding, orientation and/or induction.
Performance is the raison d’etre of recruitment and onboarding. It is the productivity of the employee. In other words, are they doing what they are paid to do, and how well are they doing it?
Offboarding is probably the most under-leveraged of all the employee experiences. While exiting resides here – voluntary or otherwise – so too does succession planning and promotion. An organisation that neglects this part of the lifecycle shoots itself in the proverbial foot.
While the 4 Part Employee Lifecycle is purposefully simple, for many it may be a little too simple in terms of “Performance”. So I propose the subdivision of this part into its own four subparts: (1) Performance Management; (2) Development; (3) Health & Wellbeing; and (4) Retention.
Hence I call this model the 4+4 Part Employee Lifecycle.
Performance management would include probation, along with goal setting – KPI’s and behavioural markers – and the dreaded performance appraisal. While performance management has attracted a lot of heat in recent years, my view is that rather than dispensing with it altogether (to the organisation’s detriment), change its nature. For example, I suggest performance appraisals be frequent, short, and feedback rich. There should be no nasty surprises at the end of the year!
Development is complex in its own right; indeed this blog is almost entirely devoted to it. Suffice it to say that in this context, it’s probably best to think of an employee’s development as the totality of their formal development – including training, development planning, leadership programs, career development and talent management – and their informal development – comprising learning (as opposed to training) and performance support.
Health & wellbeing enjoys ever-increasing interest among HR folks, and rightly so as beyond the ethical imperative, an employee who is healthy in body and mind is also productive. I see the usual suspects – inclusion, bullying & harassment, WH&S – in this space, along with personal health initiatives such as pedometer challenges and flu jabs.
And finally, retention concerns the obvious – remuneration and benefits – and the less obvious such as opportunities for growth and career prospects. Engagement may also reside here.
A smart man once declared all models are wrong, but some are useful; and I find the 4+4 Part Employee Lifecycle useful because it identifies key parts of the employee experience which we HR folks need to support.
If we look at the model through the lens of L&D, for example, it prompts us to ask questions that are critical to the success of the business:
- Recruitment – What capabilities do we need to buy into the organisation? Which attitudes do we need to inject to shift our culture? Who can we develop into a future leader or SME?
- Onboarding – What do we need our new recruits to know and do as soon as possible? How do we support this process?
- Performance Management – Where are the performance gaps? Why do these gaps exist? Are they due to deficiencies in capability?
- Development – Which capabilities do our people need to develop? What training should we push? How do we enable our people to drive their own learning? How do we support their performance on the job?
- Health & Wellbeing – Are our people in tune with their physical and mental health? Are our managers capable of supporting them in this space? How do we shift our culture from one of rules and regulation to one of care and collaboration?
- Retention – Are our people aware of the wonderful benefits that are available to them? What kinds of work experiences do they seek? Do they have a career development plan?
- Offboarding – What capabilities do our people need to equip them for the future?
In a similar manner we can look at the model through other lenses, such as technology, process improvement, innovation, or analytics, to ensure they add value across the gamut of HR functions.