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Anna Schosser31.05.202316 min read

What is The Employee Life Cycle? 7 Stages

What is The Employee Life Cycle? 7 Stages

When looking for ways how you can improve the success of current and future employees at your company, you know that success depends on how well you train, develop, and retain your employees. This is where the concept of the employee life cycle comes into play.

Therefore, understanding the employee life cycle and how it affects overall performance, engagement, retention levels, and business performance in your firm is part of your job as an HR professional. The proper administration of all employee life cycle stages is regarded as a critical role since it deals with your organization's most valuable asset: people.

"According to a study by SHRM, companies that excel in managing the employee life cycle experience 50% lower turnover rates compared to their peers."

This shows that by having a corporate culture and a strong understanding of the employee life cycle and implementing strategies accordingly, companies can see significant positive results. In this blog post, we will explore the seven stages of the employee life cycle, why it is crucial for your own company culture's success and the benefits that come with it. Let's dive in!


What's in this post?


What is an employee life cycle?

An employee life cycle refers to the stages an employee goes through during their tenure in an organization, from recruitment to exit.

It is a critical process that outlines the various touchpoints employees have with the company, HR, managers, and colleagues over time. There are typically seven stages an individual goes through in the employee life cycle- attraction, recruitment, onboarding, engagement, development, retention, and separation. Each stage has its unique requirements and specific goals that need to be met to ensure employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

Let's say, for example, an employee is recruited into the company. During the recruitment stage, HR will collect resumes, conduct interviews, and finally, select the best candidate for the position. The selected employee then proceeds to the next stage of the employee life cycle- the employee onboarding stage, where they receive orientation regarding the organization's culture, values, policies, and expectations.

The onboarding process sets the tone for an employee's relationship with a company and is the start of a continuous learning journey that helps them reach their maximum potential. By designing effective programs for each stage of the employee life cycle, companies can improve employee satisfaction, retention, and overall business success.

If you are interested in exploring how AI has transformed human resource management, read our blog post on "What is the role of AI in Human Resource Management" where we explore how AI can support HR functions such as recruitment, training, data analysis, and decision-making processes. By implementing AI-based systems in HR, companies can save time, increase efficiency, and improve employee experiences.

What are the stages of the employee life cycle?

Retorio--Employee-Life-Cycle-Stages Infographic


As mentioned above, there are 7 stages of an employee life cycle. Let's take a deeper look into what these stages actually mean:

1. Attraction

Attraction is the first stage in the employee life cycle. It refers to the process of attracting potential candidates to your organization, and where a potential employee first becomes aware of a firm. This might be by seeing a job advertisement, researching employment openings, or conversing with friends and relatives. This step does not include the potential recruit connecting directly with a corporate representative. This stage is all about making the company as appealing to potential workers as feasible.

This stage is vital as it forms the foundation for the entire employee life cycle. To attract top talent in an increasingly competitive job market, HR professionals are now relying on AI systems to screen and shortlist potential candidates.

AI-powered systems can analyze resumes, cover letters, and social media profiles to identify the best fit for the job based on specific criteria. They can also help customize job postings to target specific demographics and ensure that the job opportunities reach a broader audience. This approach allows companies to streamline their recruitment process, reduce bias and discrimination in hiring, and significantly improve their chances of attracting the right candidate.


2. Recruitment

The recruitment stage is the second stage of the employee life cycle, which is crucial in identifying and hiring the right talent for the company. The recruitment process involves a series of steps that include job posting, screening of resumes, interviews, and candidate selection. Finding the right candidate requires HR professionals to invest significant time and effort in screening resumes and resumes. They have to weigh in various factors such as personality, behavior, skills, and cultural fit.

With the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) in HR, things have become easier and more efficient. AI systems can analyze resumes and cover letters to identify the most relevant candidates for the job based on specific criteria. AI can also conduct initial interviews, evaluate candidates' language, tone, and communication style, and provide insights into their suitability for the role. AI-powered recruitment software can also automate mundane recruitment tasks such as interview scheduling and candidate screening, freeing HR professionals to focus on more strategic activities.

AI can also play a critical role in reducing bias and discrimination in hiring, a significant pain point for HR professionals. AI-based systems can help eliminate bias by standardizing recruitment processes, and ensuring that candidates are evaluated based on merit and not on demographic characteristics. This approach not only reduces the likelihood of discrimination in hiring but also increases the chances of hiring the best candidate for the job.


3. Onboarding

Onboarding is the third stage of the employee life cycle, where newly hired employees receive orientation, training, and support to acclimate to their new role within the company. The main objective of this stage is to help employees understand the company's culture, policies, values, and respective roles while preparing them for success in their positions. An effective onboarding process reinforces the new employees' decision to join the company and gives them a sense of belonging in the organization.

AI can play a critical role in improving onboarding processes. Many organizations are now using AI-powered chatbots and adaptive learning systems to deliver personalized and interactive onboarding experiences that engage employees and help them learn at their own pace. These systems can help automate many onboarding tasks, such as orientation sessions, paperwork review, and training, freeing HR professionals to focus on more strategic activities.

With AI, onboarding programs can incorporate multimedia elements, such as video tutorials, virtual reality simulations, and gamification techniques to make training more immersive and engaging. This approach improves training outcomes and increases employee engagement by making the onboarding process more enjoyable and interactive, leading to better employee retention rates, increased productivity, and overall success for the company.

For instance, let's say your company is based in New York, and you just hired an employee in India. An AI-powered onboarding solution can make sure that the new employee receives training materials at the appropriate time, in their local language and timezone. This ensures that the employee feels welcomed and valued, making them more likely to remain engaged and productive during the onboarding process.


4. Engagement

Engagement is the fourth stage of the employee life cycle and is vital for the company's success. Engaged employees are more productive, motivated, and committed to the same, company culture and values, resulting in better business outcomes.

The engagement process involves creating a positive and fulfilling work environment that allows employees to contribute their best work to the organization. One of the critical components of engagement is continuous learning and development. Employees who feel that they are continuously learning and developing in their roles are more likely to remain engaged and productive.

AI can play a crucial role in improving employee engagement. For instance, AI-powered systems can identify employee skills gaps and recommend personalized learning and development plans to address them. AI can also identify opportunities for employees to develop new skills and provide relevant learning resources to help them grow.

Another way that AI can improve engagement is by delivering personalized feedback on employee performance. AI-based systems can analyze employee data, such as their attendance, productivity, and performance metrics, to provide tailored feedback that helps employees improve their performance. By providing personalized employee feedback often, employees feel that their contributions are valued, leading to increased engagement, motivation, and productivity.

Furthermore, AI can help employees feel more connected to the company by providing them with access to information and resources that help them perform their job better. For example, AI-powered chatbots can provide employees with quick and accurate answers to their questions, reducing the time they spend searching for information. This approach also allows HR professionals to focus on more strategic tasks and allows employees to remain engaged and productive.

5. Development

Development is the stage of the employee life cycle where HR professionals ensure that employees continuously learn and grow in their roles. This stage of employee development is significant as it plays a critical role in retaining top talent by providing employees with opportunities to enhance their skill sets. The objective of the development stage is to ensure that employees remain engaged, motivated, and productive by providing them with the necessary knowledge, and resources to improve their performance.

One way that AI is making the development stage more efficient is by providing personalized learning and development plans. AI-powered systems can analyze employee data, such as performance metrics and skill gaps, to provide tailored learning and development (L&D) plans that address specific employee needs. This approach saves HR professionals time and energy by automating the development process and ensuring that employees receive relevant training that helps them improve their skills.

Moreover, AI can identify opportunities for employees to develop new skills and provide relevant learning resources to help them grow. This enables HR professionals to provide employees with valuable training opportunities that help them reach their full potential. Additionally, AI systems can analyze training data to provide KPIs that demonstrate the impact of training programs on employee performance.

This approach enables HR professionals to measure the success of their training programs and identify areas for improvement.

For instance, consider an HR professional working for a large company with employees scattered across the globe. With the help of AI, the HR professional can ensure scalable and sustainable training by providing remote access to learning materials and utilizing immersive training techniques such as virtual reality to engage employees. This approach ensures that employees receive consistent and high-quality training regardless of their geographic location or time zone.


6. Retention

The retention stage is close to the final stage of the employee life cycle and is critical for any company's success. The retention stage is all about ensuring that you hold onto the top talent that you've worked so hard to attract, recruit, onboard, and develop. Retention is essential because a high level of employee churn can negatively impact business performance, increase recruitment costs, and reduce employee morale. High churn rates also indicate that employees are not satisfied with their work and are likely to leave if better opportunities arise.

To combat this, HR professionals are turning to AI to improve retention rates. AI-powered systems can analyze employee data, such as job satisfaction, performance, and salary data, to identify employees at risk of leaving the company. With this data, HR professionals can create interventions that help retain key talent.

For instance, let's say an employee has been with the company for two years and is considering leaving. They've recently expressed dissatisfaction with their role and salary to their manager. An AI-powered retention system can flag this employee as being at risk of leaving and provide HR professionals with insights into what factors led to this employee's dissatisfaction. This information can be used to tailor a retention plan that takes into account the employee's specific needs and concerns.

AI can also help employees continue their careers at the company by providing personalized development plans that allow them to grow and progress within the organization. This approach helps to retain top talent by showing employees that they have a future at the company. Moreover, AI systems can analyze employee data to identify opportunities for promotion or lateral moves within the organization that align with their strengths and interests.


7. Separation (Off-Boarding)

The separation stage is the final stage of the employee life cycle and is when an employee leaves a company, either through voluntary resignation, termination, or retirement. This stage is critical as it poses both a risk and an opportunity for your organization. Proper management of the separation stage can help to minimize any negative impact on the organization while at the same time, allowing you to gather valuable information from the departing employee.

AI can play a crucial role in making the separation process smooth and efficient for both the departing employee and HR. For instance, AI-powered systems can automate data collection and analysis from exit interviews and employee surveys, enabling HR professionals to identify patterns and trends leading to voluntary resignation, termination, or retirement.

AI-based systems can help to streamline the off-boarding process by automating the collection of exit interviews most employees do while removing the need for face-to-face interviews. Employees can provide feedback remotely, and the AI can analyze responses to identify common themes and issues that may require attention. This analysis provides HR professionals with valuable insights that help to identify areas for improvement and to retain existing talent.

Moreover, AI-powered systems can help manage sensitive information, such as the return of company property and confidential information. These systems can prompt employees to return assets to the company, track the progress of returned items, and ensure that all confidential information is either deleted or returned before the employee's departure.

Furthermore, AI can help to automate the administrative process of finalizing the employee's salary, benefits, and other entitlements, reducing the time and effort involved in manual processing.

In summary, the separation stage is a crucial stage of the employee life cycle that can have significant impacts on the organization's productivity, morale, and overall success. By leveraging AI-based solutions, HR professionals can make the separation process more efficient and effective, providing valuable insights and enabling them to retain their top talent.


The importance of an employee life cycle

The employee life cycle is the foundation of any successful organization and is essential for the company's success. An effective employee life cycle ensures that each stage of the process is managed efficiently, enabling HR professionals to provide employees with an engaging and rewarding experience. This approach leads to higher engagement, productivity, and retention rates while also providing valuable insights into areas for improvement in the organization. Here are a few more bullet points on why an employee life cycle strategy is vital for every organization:


  • The employee life cycle provides a standardized framework for managing workers from recruiting through exit throughout their entire experience inside a business.

  • It helps firms to attract and hire the best personnel by defining job responsibilities, creating job descriptions, and determining the skills and credentials needed for each position.

  • Throughout the employee life cycle, effective onboarding practices ensure that new recruits feel welcome, understand their roles and duties, and rapidly become productive members of the firm.

  • Organizations may improve employees' skills, knowledge, and performance by implementing ongoing training and development efforts at all phases of the employee life cycle, resulting in higher productivity and job satisfaction.

  • Employee life cycle performance management systems help set clear standards, offer frequent feedback, and recognize and reward employees' successes, increasing engagement and motivation.

  • Employees get the opportunity to advance in their careers with effective career planning and development opportunities across the employee life cycle, improving their commitment to the business and lowering turnover.

  • The employee life cycle enables efficient succession planning, ensuring that firms have a pipeline of talent to replace essential jobs when people leave or retire.

  • Managing employee relations and addressing issues such as disagreements, grievances, and disciplinary measures throughout the employee life cycle contributes to a favorable work environment and healthy employee relations.

By understanding and managing each stage of the employee life cycle, companies can create a culture of learning and development that helps employees reach their full potential. Furthermore, effective management of the employee life cycle results in positive outcomes such as higher customer satisfaction, reduced employee turnover rates, increased productivity, and lower recruitment costs.

Retorio Employee life cycle group photo with arms up in the air


The benefits of using an employee life cycle

Employee life cycles provide companies with numerous tangible and intangible benefits. Some of the key advantages include:

Improved employee engagement  Effective employee life cycle management leads to higher engagement rates, as employees feel that their work is valued and they are continuously learning and developing.
Reduced Employee Turnover  By providing employees with meaningful development opportunities and job satisfaction, companies can significantly reduce employee turnover rates, resulting in lower recruitment costs and greater business success.
Increased Productivity  Employees who are engaged, motivated, and fulfilled in their roles are more productive employees, leading to higher business performance.
Improved customer satisfaction  Companies with engaged and satisfied employees are more likely to provide their customers with the best possible service, resulting in higher customer satisfaction levels.


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Key Takeaways

  • The employee life cycle is the process of managing employees from recruitment through exit and is critical for any organization's success.

  • The key stages of the employee life cycle include attraction, recruitment, onboarding, engagement, development, retention, and separation.

  • Effective employee life cycle management leads to higher productivity, job satisfaction levels, customer satisfaction rates, and lower employee turnover rates.

  • AI is playing a crucial role in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of each stage of the employee life cycle, allowing HR professionals to focus on more strategic activities.



The employee experience or life cycle refers to the numerous stages that an employee goes through while working for a company, from recruiting and onboarding to development, retention, and, eventually, separation. Hiring, orientation, training, performance management, career progression, and off-boarding procedures are all included. Managing the positive employee experience or life cycle efficiently ensures that workers have a simplified and good experience while also assisting employers in maximizing productivity, engagement, and talent retention.

The stages of the employee life cycle typically include attraction, recruitment, onboarding, engagement, development, retention, and separation. Recruitment involves attracting and selecting suitable candidates, while onboarding focuses on orienting new hires to the organization. Development entails enhancing skills and performance, retention involves engaging and retaining talented employees, and separation covers the process of employee departures, such as resignations or retirements.

The employee life cycle model is critical in business because it provides a disciplined framework for efficiently managing people from the time they are hired until they leave the company. It guarantees that firms can recruit and develop top personnel, encourage engagement and productivity, and manage transitions efficiently, resulting in a motivated workforce, enhanced performance, and reduced turnover.


Anna Schosser

I create engaging and informative content about the importance of artificial intelligence and video-based AI technology for recruitment. I discuss cutting-edge AI developments and new technology with storytelling skills.