Employee engagement is a critical factor for success in any organization and can influence recruitment, retention, productivity, and employee health and well-being.
At its core, employee engagement is a measure of how connected and invested employees are in their work. Employees who are engaged feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for their work. They’re passionate about their jobs and committed to their organization’s success.
And even though most companies have some sort of employee engagement strategy, most make the mistake of focusing on one or two stages of the employee’s life cycle, such as retention or development.
But if you want to truly boost engagement at your organization, it’s necessary to focus on all stages of the employee life cycle.
In this blog, we will explore the different stages of employee engagement and how employers can boost it at each stage.
The 7 Stages of the Employee Life Cycle
The employee life cycle is an umbrella term used to describe the stages of a professional’s journey in an organization, from the moment they apply for the job to when they leave.
The stages are:
Attraction: This is when potential candidates become aware of your company and its employer brand.
Recruitment: This is when you select and hire the best candidates for your open positions.
Onboarding: This is when you welcome new hires and help them integrate into your company culture, team, and role.
Retention: This is when you keep your employees engaged, motivated, and productive by providing them with feedback, recognition, rewards, and opportunities for growth.
Development: This is when you help your employees learn new skills, acquire new knowledge, and advance their careers.
Offboarding: This is when you manage the departure of employees who resign or are terminated, and ensure a smooth transition for both parties.
Happy leavers: This is when you maintain a positive relationship with former employees who can become ambassadors, referrals, or even boomerang hires for your company.
And then the cycle starts anew.
How to Boost Employee Engagement at Each Stage of the Employee Life Cycle
The main goal of the employee life cycle is to create a seamless transition from one stage to another so that you ensure a positive employee experience and that your employees feel heard, supported, and valued.
A big part of this is making sure that you’re engaging your employees throughout their experience with your organization. Here are some tips for how to do that:
1. Attraction - Attract Engaged Candidates With a Powerful Employer Brand
Fostering engagement starts way before an employee ever sets foot in the office.
Ideally, industry professionals should be attracted to your company and engaged in its mission and values whether or not they’re actively looking for a job.
Google and Apple are prime examples of this.
These companies have built such a strong employer brand that everyone in the IT industry knows their values, mission, culture, and offerings; they understand what makes them unique and attractive employers.
As a result, when people apply for positions at these companies, they’re already engaged and excited to be part of the team.
Your company can do this too by nurturing an engaging employer brand. Leverage your website, social media channels, and content marketing to tell people about your organization’s mission, your values, and what sets you apart from the competition.
2. Recruitment - Creating Long-Term Employee Engagement Through Strategic Recruitment
In the employee life cycle, recruitment covers all the steps which lead to hiring a new employee, including your job postings, candidate sourcing, interview, and selection process.
And while that all is important, in this article we are focused on fostering engagement. Sure, exciting postings and benefits are a great way to attract applicants, but if you want to make sure that your recruits are engaged with the company and its mission for the long haul, you need to go further.
For your employees to truly be engaged with their work and your company, they need to:
- be aligned with your company culture - while that can be fostered in later stages, hiring candidates that share your company's values makes the whole process much easier.
- be passionate about the job at hand - there is no point in sugarcoating the job requirements. Be honest about what the job entails and let potential candidates decide if they're a good fit or not.
- have space to feel challenged - you want your employees to feel like the job is not just a daily grind, but rather an opportunity for growth and development. Try to find out what challenges each candidate is looking for in a job and see if it fits with the position you have available.
Of course, not all these criteria can be fulfilled in the recruitment process and not all jobs can live up to these expectations. However, taking them into account when hiring helps lay the foundation for employee engagement in the long run.
So rather than focusing solely on skills and experience, consider the entire person who will be joining your team, how they fit into the big picture, as well as how their goals align with those of the organization.
3. Onboarding - Engagement from Day One
This is the stage at which you usually introduce new hires to the company, their new role in it, as well as any applicable policies.
But onboarding should be about more than just getting paperwork done.
It’s an excellent opportunity to start engaging employees from day one and make sure that they feel like part of the team.
To do this, you should focus on three key elements:
- Personalize their onboarding experience: Provide them with an onboarding package that contains information about the company, their role and responsibilities, and any other information they may need to get settled in quickly.
- Introduce and explain company culture: Ensure new hires understand your company’s mission, values, and goals. Show them what it means to be part of your team and help them understand their new role in it.
- Help them find the right resources: Make sure they have access to all the necessary tools and resources they need to be successful, such as training materials, job-specific software and hardware, and even a mentor if possible.
- Help them build relationships: Facilitate interactions between new hires and existing employees that go beyond formal introductions. Encourage conversations and team-building activities that help build personal connections and foster a sense of belonging
In hybrid or remote situations, onboarding might look different than traditional in-person onboarding.
Instead of in-person welcome events or onboarding sessions, provide new hires with digital resources such as company chatrooms and social platforms which can help them get to know their colleagues, or your knowledge base, where they can find answers to their questions.
In the end, onboarding should set up new hires for success and give them a sense that they are joining a team of people who are invested in their success!
4. Retention - Keeping Your Employees Engaged
This stage is what most will call the main event. Your employees have been fully trained and integrated into the company.
The goal now is to retain them, while ensuring they continue their performance, growth, and contributions toward the success of your business. And a huge part of it is their engagement.
But how do you keep your current and long-term employees engaged with both their job and the company?
The answer is both simple and complex: communication.
Communication and feedback are the key pillars of employee engagement.
Make sure that you’re providing employees with clear expectations, regular feedback, and ongoing training so they can continue to develop their skills.