Many HR discussions revolve around how to improve specific processes such as payroll, performance management and recruitment. However, these and other HR processes make up a much larger whole that deserves attention: employee lifecycle management (ELM).

Valuing strong ELM at your organization is key to attracting and retaining top talent and supporting the company’s bottom line.

The six phases of ELM

Employee lifecycle management is defined as the tools, processes and management structures that support the total experience of an employee at their company, from beginning to end. There are six specific phases of the employee lifecycle Let’s take a quick look at each of these phases.

Outreach: the employee lifecycle begins not when the individual is hired for a position at your company, but when they first become interested in a vacancy. There are many channels of outreach including, social media and online job boards.

Recruitment: encompasses the application and interview processes a candidate goes through when applying for an open position.

Onboarding: takes place after a job offer is accepted, and when new hires are brought up-to-speed on the company’s policies and procedures while learning the ropes of their positions.

Performance management: processes that help evaluate and recognize employees for their work, such as annual reviews and recognition programs.

Development: comes along once the employee has moved out of the new hire phase and established himself as a skilled team member. Managers work with the employee to identify his professional roles and develop a plan to meet them.

Off-boarding: the last stage in the lifecycle, when employees leave the company due to their own volition or layoffs/firing.

The value of employee lifecycle management

ELM is a function that HR departments at every kind of company should prioritize because it deals with an organization’s most critical asset: its people. When employees are supported at every stage of their careers, they feel valued by their companies and confident that they can achieve their goals which translates into high job satisfaction and loyalty.

However, simply saying that your company practices good ELM is not enough – the principles have to be put into practice in a dynamic and effective way.

Here are some tips for creating strong ELM within your company:

Including employees in ELM 

It shouldn’t be a secret that your organization values employee lifecycle management; all employees should be aware of the efforts you’re taking. Enrich your company culture with ELM principles in as many ways as possible. Share the six phases model with employees during the onboarding process, and make employee support and development one of your company’s key organizational values. Get your employees’ feedback on what is working and what isn’t and alter your programs as needed. Maybe they feel they aren’t receiving enough regular feedback on their performance, or are unclear about what job paths exist at the company.

The importance of using the right technology

Technology is a key component of successful ELM as HR systems collect, track and organize data from the critical HR processes that together support employee development, such as recruitment and performance management.

An HR technology solution that integrates these separate processes will set you up for success in ELM. A study on HR systems integration by the Aberdeen Group viewed the employee lifecycle as the human lifecycle and then considered what it would be like if a child was cared for by a different set of parents at each major milestone in his life – a situation which represents a lack of integration in HR systems according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

“Then imagine that, in each stage, the child’s new family had not been given any information about how he or she had been raised by the previous one,” wrote the authors of the study. “Such inconsistency would pose a huge obstacle to development. The reason for this analogy is to show the problems associated with standalone talent management processes and data.”

Combining systems led to gains; the study ultimately found that HR executives that used at least partially integrated systems saw “significantly greater performance gains” than organizations that had no integration.

Though it’s easy to look at HR processes as separate, they are all connected, especially when it comes to employee lifecycle management. By supporting workers through all six phases of their lifecycle, you can help retain top talent.