Understand the employee lifecycle to achieve best practice approach to Human Resources

To successfully manage your workforce and to meet the demands of clients you need to have the correct human resources strategy, framework and support in your business.   To do this it is important to understand the human resources employee lifecycle and how it relates to a best practice approach to Human Resources.

First up, a definition. The employee lifecycle is a framework that Human Resources can use to view the stages of an employee as they progress through during their employment relationship with a business.

Each stage plays an important role in forming the employer and employee relationship and links together all the necessary aspects of best practice and compliant Human Resources. 

Get each section right and you will have a supportive, engaged and driven workforce all working together to achieve the business’ goals.

Small Business Society breaks Human Resources and the employee lifecycle down into five simple, easy to follow areas – Planning, Attraction, Management, Engagement and Conclusion.  

Let’s look at each of these five areas of the employee lifecycle in more detail to learn about what they include and why they are so important for any business with employees.

Planning; the current and future staffing, process and system needs of your business.

The first stage of the employee lifecycle is  the planning phase and we split this into two sections; employees and system / process requirements. 

This first section is to understand the current and future staffing needs of your business.  This involves understanding your current workforce; their skills and their capabilities.  It is also important to know your current leadership’s capabilities.  It is important for a business to document all of this information about your workforce.  

As an employee,  you understand what the future holds for your industry to ensure your workforce can meet these future demands.  It is also important to have a succession plan in place for key employees and leaders. 

Underperforming employees, poorly matched employees to positions and unhappy employees can have a massive impact on the business’ ability to achieve its goals. As your employees are the driving force behind your business and its success, it is important that you have the right employees with the right skills and capabilities to complete the role now and into the future.

The second section of the planning phase is to understand and plan for the process and system needs of your business.  You need to check you are business compliant and have up to date policies and procedures.   

Also, ensure you have adequate human resource technology in place and business reporting tools, not just to assist you for the demands of your business today, but into the future as well.

Having poor or no systems and processes in place for tracking your human resources data and metrics will impact your business’ ability to make timely and accurate decisions. 

Attraction; and introduction of the right people

The second stage of the employee lifecycle is the attraction phase and it is about the recruitment and onboarding of your future employees and then having a successful induction and probation program for these employees.

To attract and retain the best employees in the future, take the time to develop and design your overall recruitment and attraction program.  This includes having processes, policies and templates for position descriptions, advertising, the interview process itself and finally the employee contract and new starter paperwork.

Upon signing a new employee, having a well planned out and executed induction and probation program becomes the focus. To set you and your new employee up for success take the time up front to train and inform your new employee, meet with them regularly and discuss how they are going in their new role.  Feedback and coaching will assist the employee to be successful as quickly as they can.

It is such an important decision hiring a new employee, that it makes good business sense to invest in the process. By having a good, but also timely, process in place you are able to ensure this best reflects your business’ brand. You don’t want to lose your best candidate to your competitor because you took too long to conduct an interview or to make them an offer because the hiring panel or approvers were not available.

Management; of employees formal and informal development, expectations and performance.

The management phase is the third stage of the employee lifecycle and is best described in three sections.

The first section addresses having a performance appraisal program in place for your business.  That is, have a documented process with associated templates that you and your leaders utilise on a regular basis, describing how you will identify, evaluate and then develop the work performance of your employees. 

Next section is about managing your employees’ development, and assisting them to continuously perform to meet their job requirements. You will need to provide formal and informal learning and development opportunities through the employee lifecycle to ensure legislative requirements and expectations are known, but also to ensure that your employees are ready for the future requirements of the business. 

Finally, it is important to have a well defined and documented performance management process. It is important to follow fair and consistent performance management practices when managing employees’ performance or behaviour. Procedural fairness is critical to how Fair Work Australia decides unfair dismissal cases.

If an employee is underperforming, it can take a lot of time and resources to attend meetings, set and evaluate development requirements to bring an employee back on track. Even then it is not guaranteed that the employee will improve to the standard required and you may need to terminate their employment. 

Proactively managing employees through regular reviews of individual performance and incremental increase in skill and capability development will have a positive impact on employee engagement and output. If expectations are clear on what work needs to be completed, regular praise is given and opportunities to develop are provided employees are more likely to stay. 

Engagement; of employees in the work and the business.

There are many elements involved in retaining the right employees for your business. Employee engagement is the fourth stage of the employee lifecycle, and covers a few different sections. 

First and foremost is remuneration.  The base rate of pay, overtime rates, superannuation and tax, plus additional elements above these such as additional leave, allowances and salary reviews, all contribute to the engagement levels of your employees.

In addition to remuneration, there are other, just as important aspects of your business to consider to assist with employee engagement.  These include professional development, reward and recognition programs, flexible working arrangements and the elements of a good working environment. 

The final section is your business’ culture which is a reflection of the environment, behaviours, values, office rituals, and the language of the employees working in your business.  A positive workplace culture results in effective employee engagement and long term employment.

Often it will take getting each of these sections right to enable high levels of employee engagement and individuals will have different requirements under each section. Therefore it is best practice to review your offerings regularly to ensure they are meeting the expectations of your employees and prospective candidates.

Conclusion; of employment by the employer or employee.

The final stage of the employee lifecycle is conclusion. It can also be referred to as exiting, departing or termination. There are many different reasons why an employee or employer may conclude employment with a business.  This can include redundancy, underperformance, ill health, end of temporary contract, retirement and resignation.

Whilst some stages of conclusion will have specific process requirements there are also a number of key steps which are the same. Your process should include final pays, returning business security swipe cards or keys, notification to key employees and customers as well as most beneficial, is an exit interview when an employee can share invaluable information about how the business can improve. 

While this might be the fifth and final stage of the employee lifecycle it is by no means any less important than the other four stages. Ensure an employee departs with a respectful and where possible, positive experience as you never know what the future may bring.

The importance of best practice human resources

What is going to help your business be the best it can be to enable sustainability and growth?

The importance of best practice human resources at every stage of the employee lifecycle is easily overlooked in the busy day-to-day workplace. However without contributions in each of these five areas of human resources, your business would be less successful and potentially at risk.

Take the time to set up your business’ systems, processes and employees correctly. Develop a Human Resources strategy as you do with your finances and marketing and make sure that you are working towards this plan, monitoring it and making adjustments as the needs of your business, customers and industry changes.

Small Business Society can assist with a range of templates, useful blogs to guide you in the right direction or work with you closely to develop each stage and your strategy.

Contact Small Business Society today to discuss how Small Business Society can help your small business.

The information provided in this document is for your guidance only and is general in nature. It does not constitute as legal advice. It is the responsibility of the individual to seek legal advice where required.


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About Kate Tongue

Kate Tongue is the founding Director of Small Business Society.

She is a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional with more than 10 years of experience across the private and public sectors.

Her particular interest and experience is in managing the employee life cycle, delivering process improvements, and Human Resource strategy.


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