Reinventing the Employee Life Cycle

Sharlyn Lauby, President, ITM Group
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(Editor’s Note: Today’s guest post comes from Sharlyn Lauby of HR Bartender and ITM Group.)

The employee/employer relationship is changing. We’re seeing it in many ways – from mobile and social recruiting to agile performance management. It only makes sense that as the business environment changes so will the ways we attract, engage, and retain talent.

So it will come as no surprise that the employee life cycle is changing as well. Traditionally, the employee life cycle is a model that identifies the different stages in an employee’s time with an organization. It usually includes recruitment and onboarding, performance management, training and development, career planning, and transition. And it’s typically represented as a cycle (or circle.)

The Employee Plan

At this year’s SilkRoad Connections Conference, speakers from Kaiser Associates challenged us to think of the employee life cycle in a different way. Instead of a circle, we should view the employee life cycle as a loop.

Employee Experience Loop

The idea behind the loop is that it provides an employee centered design to the life cycle because it’s continuous. Frankly, this aligns with other employee-centric changes we’re seeing in the workplace.

Flipping training: This is the concept of “flipping” traditional training methods so activities such as lectures and reading are done outside of the classroom and interactive activities and discussion happen inside the classroom. The focus is on giving employees the most hands-on experience when they are with other employees.

Real-time feedback: Every interaction is a learning opportunity with real-time feedback. Employees at every level of the organization learn how to deliver good feedback, providing the mechanism for constant growth and learning. This provides recognition to employees as well.

The question becomes how to transition from a cycle to a loop. Kaiser Associates shared a few tools that could prove useful.

Empathy maps are collaborative tools that can be used to gain deeper insight into a group. It’s often used for customers, but in this case the group would be employees. To use an empathy map, you can bring a group together and have them collaborate to complete the empathy map template.

Journey mapping allows you to illustrate the steps employees go through to engage with the company. Again sometimes this is done with customers, but it can be applied to employees. The empathy map tells you about the individual; the journey map tells you about their experience.

These tools give organizations the ability to define the employee life cycle (or loop) that they want people to experience. In turn, this drives employment branding and the candidate experience.

Using an employee experience “loop” can bring value to the organization. It’s a visual that can be helpful to share during orientation to show future career paths. When employees are promoted or transferred, it can be a reminder of the company’s commitment to their long-term success.

Even if organizations choose not to create a new visual “loop,” having a dedicated conversation about the employee life cycle makes sense. Companies need to align the life cycle with culture, values, and competencies. Taking a holistic look at the entire life cycle on a regular basis can ensure the company is consistent in their approach. This is a win for everyone involved.

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