A company is only as strong as its workforce, so staffing your business with excellent employees can make all the difference.

While crucial, finding the right people to join your team can be tedious and time-consuming, especially in today’s labor market. As a result, you want to do everything you can to keep high-quality talent on the team for the long haul. 

In this Employee Lifecycle Guide, we’ll break down the employee lifecycle from start to finish. We’ll also explain how to optimize each stage to improve your business. 

What is the Lifecycle of an Employee?

At any given time, a company may have a mix of brand-new hires, seasoned veterans, and employees who fall somewhere in between. Each of these workers will be at different stages of the employee lifecycle. 

Employee lifecycles can vary slightly from one industry or organization to the next, but they typically include the following stages:


Recruitment is the process of actively seeking out, finding, and hiring candidates for a specific position or job.


Onboarding refers to the processes by which new hires are integrated into the organization. It includes activities involved in the initial new-hire orientation process, as well as the ways new employees learn about the organization and its structure, culture, vision, mission, and values.

Employee Retention

Employee retention is the ability of an organization to retain its employees and ensure workforce sustainability. Employee retention can be represented by a simple statistic, but it is also the strategy employers use to try to retain employees in their workforce.

Career Development

Career development refers to the process an individual may undergo to evolve their occupational status. It is the process of making decisions for long-term learning to align personal needs of physical or psychological fulfillment with career advancement opportunities.

Transition & Separation

A job transition means that the employee changes career paths within or outside of the organization. Separation of employment is an employee's departure from a job and the end of an employee's duration with an employer. 


At this stage, the employee has withdrawn from their position or occupation and from their active working life. A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours or workload. 

Losing employees at the transition stage can drag down your bottom line. That’s because the cost of employee turnover can range from 20% to over 100% of the lost employee’s annual salary. You can boost your chances of retaining employees by:

While you want to retain top talent, letting go of poor performers is also important. According to Harvard Business Review, avoiding one bad apple can save your company twice as much money as hiring a superstar employee.

Man shaking hands with 2 people sitting down at a meeting

How to Hire in a Tough Labor Market

Now that you know the basics of the employee lifecycle, let's go back to the beginning: the hiring process. Acquiring new employees is a challenge in today’s market. In 2023, 90% of employers reported having few to no qualified candidates apply to their open positions. 

While attracting qualified people is tough, employing the right tactics to diversify your company from the competition is possible. Some effective techniques include:

Partnering With Colleges and Universities

You can get on the radar of soon-to-be job applicants by establishing a presence at local colleges and universities. To increase your chances of recruiting graduates, showcase your company's unique perks.

Frequenting Industry Events

If you need applicants with more experience, you may find them at industry trade shows or conferences. Professionals attending these events are often eager to network and may be looking for their next career move.

Becoming a Member of Professional Organizations

By joining relevant organizations, you can connect with professionals in your industry who may be looking for a new job now or in the future. Many professional organizations even provide job boards for their members.

Learn more in our blog and podcast: How to Hire in a Tough Labor Market

Turnover-Reducing Tips

In addition to seeking out talent in the right places, you want to ensure your company puts its best foot forward during the hiring process. A strong first impression can facilitate positive rapport and lower your risk of future turnover.

Here are some turnover-reducing tips and tricks.

Find more strategies for reducing employee turnover

Craft Attractive Job Positions

When creating a new role at your company, consider it from an applicant's perspective. Make sure the role’s description accurately reflects your expectations. Most importantly, research to ensure your pay and benefits are competitive.

Evaluate Applicants Thoroughly

While many job applicants make a stellar impression, you still want to do your due diligence. Background checks, drug tests, and nondiscriminatory aptitude tests (if legally allowed in your state) can help you make a more informed hiring decision.

Leverage a Recruiting Company

Screening job applicants can feel like a full-time job if you don’t have enough support. Partnering with an experienced recruiting company like BBSI can make the hiring process more laser-focused and efficient.

How to Speed Up the Time-to-Hire Process

In addition to considering your hiring strategies, tracking your time-to-hire is a good idea. Time-to-hire is the number of days it takes you to convert a job applicant into an official employee. 

For example, you post a job listing, and a promising applicant reaches out. You get back to them the following day, arrange an interview two days later, and offer them the job the next morning. In this case, your time-to-hire would be four days.

Want more ways to expedite your time to hire?


Check out this article: 9 Ways to Speed Up Your Employee's Time-to-Hire

Time-to-Hire Timeline Graphic outlining an example of 10 Days to hire.

Ways Companies Can Speed Up Their Time-To-Hire

Ideally, you want to streamline your time-to-hire as much as possible. Here's how to shorten yours:

Clarify Your Hiring Timeline and Maximum Pay

To facilitate a smooth transition, you and your preferred candidate must share the same general hiring timeline. You should also define the maximum salary in advance, so you don’t waste time entertaining candidates beyond your price range.

Map Out Your Hiring Process

Next, you should document the steps involved in your interview process and communicate those steps to your applicants. This way, they’ll know what to expect if you decide to move forward with them. 

Use Phone or Video Interviews First

In-person interviews can be logistically challenging for job applicants still employed at another company. You can accommodate more applicants’ schedules by conducting initial interviews over the phone or via Zoom. Save the in-person interviews for applicants who make it to the next stages. 

Automate Where You Can

While clear communication is crucial during the hiring process, you don’t need to send every email or text message yourself. Investing in automated messaging software can take hiring work off your team’s plate. 

Take Advantage of Industry Connections

When attracting job applicants, quality beats quantity. Rather than casting a wide net, you can save time by leveraging your industry connections and focusing on a subset of pre-vetted applicants. If you select someone that a trusted contact recommended, you’ll have that much more confidence in your hiring decision.

4 Steps for Onboarding an Employee

Once you’ve hired someone new, the onboarding stage of the employee lifecycle begins. Providing an excellent onboarding experience sets the stage for a positive working relationship. Companies with strong onboarding practices boost their new hire retention rates by 82%

With that in mind, here are four key steps to effectively onboarding new hires.

1. Offer Thorough Training

Even new employees with extensive industry experience will have much to learn once they join your team. To bring them up to speed, ensure you have a robust onboarding process.

2. Cultivate Coworker Connections

While mastering daily duties is important, so is integrating with the team. You can facilitate a smooth social transition for new hires by cultivating a welcoming workplace environment. For instance, you may want to host a Friday luncheon or Monday morning coffee social hour to give new employees a chance to get acquainted with the rest of the team.

3. Check In With Them Periodically

 Just as coworker relationships are important, so are employee-supervisor relationships. Start your relationship with new hires on the right foot by checking in on them periodically throughout their onboarding process. These interactions can instill a greater sense of loyalty within your new employees. 

4. Be Realistic About Your Onboarding Timeline

 It would be nice if new hires could get up to speed in a week, but most take a few months to get comfortable in their new positions. When you’re realistic about the time it will take to train someone, you can organize their training sessions appropriately and ensure they receive the support and feedback they need to become a competent worker. 

6 Reasons Businesses Should Have An Employee Handbook

While most of the onboarding process will require hands-on training, it’s also important to present new hires with an employee handbook. This handbook can clarify your expectations for their conduct and detail your responsibilities as an employer. 

While having an employee handbook isn’t legally required, it’s highly recommended. Here are six compelling reasons to put one together for your company:

  1. It can teach new employees about your company’s culture, mission, and values
  2. It can outline employment policies, benefits, and workplace expectations
  3. It can establish an at-will employment policy
  4. It can be used to defend against potential lawsuits and claims
  5. It can clarify procedures for conflict resolution
  6. It can keep your company in compliance with all relevant federal and state laws

Download the Employee Handbook Template

Three Potential Paths of the Employee Lifecycle

Your employees will eventually walk down one of three paths during their time at your company: 

  1. Rise the ranks
  2. Leave on their own accord
  3. Get let go by your company

The best outcome is that your new hires become perfect employees and develop into managerial ones. However, some of your employees will leave at some point, whether that’s your decision or theirs. 

Let’s explore how you can navigate each of these paths optimally.

Path #1: Career Development or Mentorship

You’ll be more likely to hold onto high-quality hires for years if you provide plenty of career development opportunities. Mentorship programs are just one example. These programs have been shown to reduce turnover by enhancing morale and showing employees that their professional development is valued by higher management.

Some benefits of enacting a mentorship program at your company include:

Find out more about mentorship programs in this article: Mentorship Programs: A Small Business’ Key to Workforce Development

Path #2: Corrective Action Planning

While a mentorship program can inspire more employees to stay, only some hires will be the right fit for your company. If you’re considering firing an employee for poor performance, you may want to enact a corrective action plan (CAP) first. 

CAPs are step-by-step procedures that can help you identify, investigate, and solve issues at your company, whether that’s an industry-related crisis or work quality concern with a specific employee. 

Corrective Action Plans can facilitate conflict resolution and potentially prevent imminent termination when used correctly. 

Learn more: Address Issues and Drive Improvements with Corrective Action Planning

Path #3: Terminating an Employee

If your CAP doesn’t resolve an employee’s underperformance, you may have just cause for termination. Here are some common reasons why an employer may choose to terminate an employee:

  • They’re a poor fit for their position
  • They lack the required skills or experience to fulfill their job responsibilities
  • They don’t fit in with the company culture
  • Their work is of low quality
  • They have ongoing performance issues
  • You need to reduce or reorganize your workforce

Even if your reason for termination is valid, you must conduct the termination process carefully. Otherwise, you may incur costly legal claims

 When you decide to let someone go, make sure to follow these best practices: 

  • Implement a corrective action plan (CAP) before jumping to termination
  • Host the termination meeting in person, if possible
  • Remain calm and have a witness in the room to document the discussion
  • Keep the verbal termination clear and concise
  • Provide a written termination statement

Learn How to Properly Terminate an Employee

Preventing Terminations With Corrective Action

Keeping employees on board is better than terminating them if you can resolve the performance issue. After all, hiring and onboarding someone new can be time-consuming and expensive. 

Here are five steps for using a CAP to prevent unnecessary terminations. 

Get started with your own Corrective Action Plan using our templates

Initiate Clear Expectations From the Get-go

You can set new employees up for success by communicating their job requirements clearly and reviewing conduct expectations from the start. Simply have them sign an official acknowledgment of both upon employment.

Host Regular Performance Reviews

Employees can only learn and grow if given adequate feedback. By checking in with your employees regularly, you can help them understand what they’re doing well and how to improve on what they aren’t. Take a consistent approach to your performance reviews and document your feedback so employees can reference it. 

Optimize Your Management Training

Employees do their best when they have effective managers guiding them. Thus, you want to ensure your company leaders are fully equipped. Training sessions can help managers communicate effectively, provide constructive feedback, and properly address employee concerns.

Focus On Content, Patterns, and Relationships (CPR)

Corrective action plans that are based on CPR highlight the “content” of the performance issue, problematic “patterns” you’ve noticed, and how they’ve affected “relationships” in the workplace. Highlighting these three elements can help employees identify their role in a workplace issue, take accountability for it, and take steps toward resolution. 

Document Your CAP Process

When it comes to CAPs, it’s important to document every step of the process. This way, you’ll have documentation ready to go if you decide to fire an employee. This documentation can protect you if the employee decides to pursue legal action post-termination. 

Improve your Employee Lifecycle with BBSI

A healthy employee lifecycle can help your company attract and retain valuable employees. 

Need help upgrading your employee lifecycle? As an experienced Professional Employer Organization (PEO), BBSI can help you make it happen. 

Over our 50+ years, we’ve helped countless companies with their recruiting process, HR requirements, payroll, risk mitigation, employee handbook development, and corrective action. Reach out to BBSI today to learn more.

Download HR Resources and Templates for Business Owners stocked with free templates and information to help you implement HR initiatives to improve employee morale and streamline your operations.