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Building a Strong Experience throughout the Employee Lifecycle

by Jen Dewar

Aug 05, 2019

The employee lifecycle doesn’t begin on an employee’s first day, nor does it end on their last day. It begins when your employee first learns about your company, and ends long after they retire.

The modern employee holds many positions at many companies throughout their career. Providing them with a strong experience throughout the employee lifecycle is crucial for attracting, retaining—and even rehiring—them. It’s also quite important for earning the employee’s recommendation, so you can more easily attract new talent.

Each stage of the employee lifecycle is an opportunity to gain the competitive edge in our competitive talent landscape and maximize your employee lifetime value.

Pre-candidate

The employee lifecycle begins when someone first has contact with your company. Not every potential job candidate will become an employee, but every employee has been a pre-candidate. So think about your employee lifecycle beginning before a candidate applies for a role within your organization.

What is your company culture, and what are your company values? Why would somebody want to work at your company? What can candidates expect from your company, if hired? In short, what is the employer brand you want to craft?

A company with a great pre-candidate experience shares this information across owned channels, like your career site and social media channels. It also moderates this information across sites like Glassdoor. Talented professionals want to be able to make informed decisions about where they work—and they don’t want to experience any negative surprises after accepting an offer.

Sharing your authentic employer brand during the pre-candidate employee lifecycle stage can help you attract the right talent (and, later, retain them). So be clear on who you’re looking for, and why they might like to work at your company.

Candidate

When someone likes what they see during the pre-candidate experience, they will take the leap to officially become a candidate. This could mean they apply, or simply reply to your outbound sourcing message.

It’s important to follow through on your employer brand promises, so candidates know you’ve been authentic and can be sure of what to expect if they accept an offer. Your candidate experience is indicative of the employee experience.

Much can be said about providing a good candidate experience, but it boils down to a few key elements. Communicate clearly and often—and get back to people when you say you will. Treat people like you’d like to be treated, from the application process through to your interviews and offer stage. Then continually collect feedback and innovate to create a standout candidate experience. The little things, like remembering their beverage preference or writing a welcome message to them on the conference room white board, can make a big impact.

Even if the candidate doesn’t receive or accept an offer, they can still impact your employer brand through company reviews—and they may be a good candidate for a future role. Carry through with a great candidate experience for everyone—whether you plan to hire them or not.

New Hire (pre-start)

The transitional period between when a candidate accepts your offer, and when they actually show up for their first day of work, is a critical juncture. Eleven percent of candidates have changed their minds on an offer after signing. You can mitigate this risk by bridging the gap between the candidate and employee experience.

Send a welcome note to let your new hire know how excited you are to have them on your team. Begin introducing them to key employees, like their team, their buddy, and the leadership team. Give them some information about your company, including your mission, vision, values, and history. Send a pre-start email so they know what to expect during their first day or week, what time to arrive, what to wear, where to park, and how to get into the building. This is also a good time to send a new hire questionnaire to get to know them better, or ask their equipment preferences.

Remember to work behind the scenes to ensure a great early employee onboarding experience.

Early employee

The first 90 days are critical, as they set the tone for the rest of your new hire’s employment. Craft a memorable first day, and keep it going throughout the early employee experience.

Take care of the basics, like setting the new employee up with a desk, email address, and key software access before they arrive. Help them feel welcome by facilitating introductions, planning lunches or coffee dates with key employees and executives, and announcing them at all-hands meetings.

Guide them as they ramp to a fully productive employee. Set short-term goals for the position, and learn about your employee’s long-term career goals. Set a career path and create a development plan to help your employee get there. Succession planning can be a win-win, as the employee can reach their career goals, and you’ll have access to a strong internal candidate pool in a competitive talent market.

Tenured employee

Your tenured employees are often your most valuable, as they’re fully productive. The simplest thing you can do throughout this employee lifecycle stage is to offer recognition—yet it’s so rarely done. Most people report an average of 50 days since they last felt recognized at work, and only 45 percent are completely satisfied with the amount of recognition they receive. Further, employees who don’t feel adequately recognized are twice as likely to say they’ll quit in the next year. A simple solution is to create a culture of recognition in which every employee is responsible for, and encouraged to, lift up their fellow colleagues with praise. Create a physical space for employees to give shout-outs, and set aside time for them during team meetings. Make sure everyone, from the CEO down to the interns, participate.

Promotions are also a great way to recognize your top performers, while proving that your career pathing exercise provides a real opportunity. Just be sure to follow up with new goals and a new development plan as each employee is promoted.

Alumni

Your employees are bound to leave your company at some point—it’s just a fact of life. Your sendoff can impact your company for years to come. Wish your departing employee well and treat them with respect in their final days at your company. Ask them to complete an exit survey so you may learn your company’s greatest strengths and opportunities for improvement as an employer. You may even ask them to write or update a Glassdoor review to help pre-candidates learn what it’s like to work at your company.

Take note in your People Operations Platform if you’d hire them again, and tell them if you would. Keep in touch with company news and open opportunities, and ask them to refer candidates if they’re not interested themselves. Your company alumni can be a great source of future hires, both in the form of boomerang hires and referrals.

Final thoughts on maximizing your employee lifecycle

The way you treat people throughout the employee lifecycle affects your ability to recruit, engage, and retain talent long-term. An employee’s experience with your company begins with their very first interaction and should extend far beyond their last day. Look at your employee’s entire journey to identify opportunities for improvement, and continually make changes to create the best possible experience.

employee lifecycle

Jen Dewar

Jen Dewar is a marketing consultant in the HR technology space with a focus on developing educational content for HR professionals and recruiters. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion, lifelong learning and development, and treating people like people throughout the candidate and employee experiences. Outside of work, you can find Jen snowboarding in Tahoe, enjoying a glass of wine in Sonoma, or hanging out at home with her husband and son.