Many HR discussions revolve around how to improve specific processes such as recruiting, payroll and benefits administration or 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 lifecycle management at your organization is key to attracting and retaining top talent and supporting the company’s bottom line.

The six phases of employee lifecycle management

ELM 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:

Outreach: an employee’s lifecycle begins when an individual first becomes interested in an open position; today, 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: what happens after a job offer is accepted including, how new hires are brought up-to-speed on the company’s policies and procedures while learning the ropes of their positions

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

Development: once an employee has moved out of the new hire phase and is established as a skilled team member, managers work with the employee to identify a professional path and to develop a plan to help the employee achieve their goals

Off-boarding: the last stage in the lifecycle, when employees leave the company, voluntarily or involuntarily

The value of employee lifecycle management

Managing the employee lifecycle is a function that HR departments at every company should prioritize because it involves the company’s most critical asset: its people. When employees are supported at every stage of their careers, they feel valued 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 the process 

It shouldn’t be a secret that you value your people; all employees should be aware of the efforts you’re taking. 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 employee management as HR systems collect, track and organize data from the critical processes that support employee development, such as recruitment and performance management. A single platform that also supports the administration of payroll and benefits and empowers employees with self-service demonstrate the company’s commitment to effective and successful employee lifecycle 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. By supporting workers through all six phases of their lifecycle, you can help retain top talent.