How the 6 stages of the Employee Life Cycle can impact your Talent Acquisition

There are 6 components of the employee life cycle and it is important that these elements work in harmony rather than against each other


Written by Tom Jewell, Associate Talent Director

Talent acquisition sits within a much broader family of stages in an employee’s journey, all of which are key to a business’ success. A high functioning, successful talent acquisition team will fail if the other pieces of the puzzle don’t fall into place in the same way. These other stages grouped together is known as the employee life cycle.

Let’s briefly explore some key components of the employee life cycle, and why it is important that these elements work in harmony rather than against each other. This will help you understand why it is important to have a holistic, end to end view of people within a business, rather than just concentrating on the first, middle or end bit. We can break the employee life cycle down into 6 key areas:

  1. Talent acquisition
  2. Onboarding
  3. Retention
  4. Development
  5. Offboarding
  6. Alumni

1. Talent Acquisition

Let’s start with talent acquisition. What is talent acquisition? You might respond with, ‘hiring people’ or ‘another way of saying ‘recruitment’. However, talent acquisition differs from recruitment in that it is not just the operational act of recruiting (attract, assess, hire). Talent acquisition involves applying a strategic, proactive, long term and methodical approach to acquiring people for your business. Talent acquisition teams seek to understand the strategic business objectives or goals of an organisation, and then design a talent attraction strategy to capitalise on quality talent at the right time at an effective price point.

Here are four key areas of talent acquisition which should not be ignored by any business:

  • Understanding business goals 1 to 5 years in advance will allow talent acquisition to take the right structure to deliver against these targets and prepare to execute on the brief. True partnership between HR and/or talent acquisition and Leadership is crucial here. In many cases the talent team is best suited to provide the business with accurate labour market insight. For example, in partnership with Advanz Pharma, we have designed a process that provides the business with data to make sound decisions with regards to multi-country hiring.


  • Employer branding could not be more important in the battle for the best talent. The way your company is perceived plays a huge role in your success as a business. Your website, careers site, LinkedIn and social media profiles are all shop windows into your business. Utilising review sites such as Glassdoor to build your brand is increasingly important. 3 in 4 job seekers are more likely to apply based on positive reviews of your company. It is also important to consider how your employer brand affects market position, in many circumstances a potential client will look at the effort and investment a business puts into its people and that will play a part in informing their decision to work with you or not. Your employer brand is largely what your current and previous employees say about where they work, which is why onboarding, retention, development and offboarding play a key role in a company’s ability to attract the best candidates in the future.


  • Effective candidate & stakeholder relationship management is the bread and butter of a good talent acquisition team. Training, developing and retaining great Talent Partners is just as important as the previous two points. Your talent acquisition team is the face of the business, the first touchpoint for every single person that applies, so having the A team is an absolute must.


  • Lastly, having basic data to show Time to Hire, Time to Fill, Time to Start, Candidate Survey Score, Hiring Manager Survey Score, Quality of Hire and Cost per Hire will allow a talent acquisition team to pinpoint where improvement is needed. Without this, you are completely blind and will likely be losing out on great candidates vs your competition.

2. Onboarding

According to Brandon Hall Group, an effective onboarding program can improve retention by 82%.

Onboarding starts with pre-boarding, the period between the candidate accepting a job offer and their first day. Creating an effective engagement plan to ensure the upcoming new starter feels looked after and to an extent already part of the business is a great way to ensure their perception of the company they are about to join is positive.

A poorly organised or non-inclusive onboarding plan is likely to have a long-lasting impact on a candidate’s view of an organisation. This will be their first look ‘under-the-hood’ and although no company operates perfectly, having a robust plan for the first 30-60-90 days will directly affect retention. If you don’t give your new starter the tools, resources and support network to succeed, why would they want to stay?

3. Development

Development ties in very closely with retention and is a key reason why great employees choose to stay or leave. A great way of retaining employees comes with increasing their employee lifetime value (ELTV) through effective and high-quality management and training. Developing a skill, crafting and honing your abilities is rewarding. Investing in training and mapping out the career path for your employees will mean they feel valued and stay for longer, which in turn improves culture and retention.

4. Retention

Employee retention is one of the most challenging stages of an employee’s life cycle. The experience an employee had before COVID19 was predominantly physical, and for many companies it is now predominantly a digital employee experience. Building a culture in an organisation that is more heavily weighted toward remote or hybrid working is a challenge. Closely measuring Employee retention rate, voluntary turnover and using engagement surveys are three very effective ways of keeping your finger on the pulse with retention efforts.

5. Offboarding

Not to be ignored. This is the moment in time where a huge amount of value can be gained from conducting exit interviews. In many cases, you’ll have direct feedback on why an employee has decided to leave. This can provide actionable insights to make improvements in stages 1 – 4. You can even send leavers a survey to fill out to rate their offboarding experience and measure this stage of the life cycle to make improvements in its effectiveness.

6. Alumni

You want people who leave your business to say good things about their journey! Word of mouth is powerful, and reputation is everything. Bit cheesy, but it’s true. Not only this but that person who left may go onto become a decision maker in another business which is likely to be in a similar industry. A good reputation will in turn feed into stage 1. I have personally seen this happen countless times.

In conclusion, it’s clear to see how the different stages of the employee life cycle are inextricably linked. The success of one stage will directly affect the success of another. If each stage is firing on all cylinders, you are set up to give current and prospective employees the experience they are looking for and want to shout about to others! However, getting it right is not straightforward. This requires a person or function within a business to review, maintain and optimise the end-to-end journey. Getting people, technology and process in place to deliver a great experience for employees is the next challenge. So why take on the challenge? Fundamentally, businesses that have mastered maximising ELTV will have better talent, making them more profitable. There is a direct correlation between how happy your workforce is and profitability.

So, ask yourself, which stage of the ELC in your business is less mature than the others? Do they all exist?