The Employee Lifecycle: How to Engage Talent at Every Stage

Employees having a discussion

Most employers already know about the importance of employee engagement and proper talent management. But many don’t understand how to properly engage talent at each step of their employee journey. From the moment they see the job description posted to their last day at the organization, team members have different needs throughout the various stages of the employee lifecycle.

But how exactly can you engage employees at every step of their journey and meet them where they are? Here, we’re sharing tips on how to build talent management strategies that address those needs and give employers the opportunity to promote employee satisfaction, boost engagement, and focus on moments that matter.

What Is the Employee Lifecycle?

The employee lifecycle encompasses the different stages that an employee goes through with an organization from their initial application to the time that they exit the company. The stages of the employee lifecycle are recruitment, onboarding, retention, development, and exit. 

Employees navigate through these stages chronologically. At each stage of the employee journey, individuals have different needs and concerns. As such, employers would be wise to adjust their talent management approach to meet those needs. For example, during the recruiting stage, the priority is generally to provide a positive interview process and candidate experience. 

Breaking down each stage of the employee lifecycle allows leaders to build an employee experience that will keep team members engaged throughout the entirety of their time with the organization. In a field like behavioral health, where burnout is common and many employers struggle to attract and retain talent, providing the right support at every stage of the employee lifecycle isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a must. 

The bottom line is that you want to maintain adequate staffing levels and keep employee morale high so that every team member can provide the best possible care to patients.

Talent Management Throughout the Employee Lifecycle

Employee lifecycle: employee shaking hands with an applicant

There are five key stages of the employee lifecycle model. Here’s how to properly engage employees at each stage and create well-designed talent management strategies to improve employee retention.


The recruitment process is the very first stage of the employee lifecycle, even though the candidates are not formally employees during this period. The recruiting stage is the first opportunity for employers to make a positive first impression, and to find the right talent to move forward into later stages of the employee lifecycle. 

Employers' main focus at this point should be to create an excellent candidate experience. According to a study from PwC, 49% of job seekers in in-demand fields report that they’ve turned down an offer because of a poor experience during the hiring process. 

As behavioral health and human services organizations continue to face difficulty in attracting and hiring enough strong candidates to fill open roles, leaders and HR professionals must be particularly intentional about recruiting efforts.

For instance, a slow hiring process can lead to a lot of frustration for candidates. Using a digital solution like a human capital management (HCM) platform can help provide a positive experience for candidates. ContinuumCloud's recruiting management features make it easy to get open roles in front of top talent with one-click job postings that distribute the opening to job boards and social media sites like LinkedIn. Then, once candidates have applied, ContinuumCloud’s applicant tracking tools allow employers to move them through the process efficiently.


The employee onboarding stage begins on a new hire’s first day of work and continues through their training and ramp-up period. This onboarding period typically lasts 90-100 days and helps set the foundation for the employee’s time at your organization. 

Providing a positive and supportive onboarding experience is an excellent strategy for improving employee retention. According to a Glassdoor survey, almost 30% of job seekers have left a new job within the first 90 days of starting. This indicates that employees won’t hesitate to jump ship if an organization provides a poor onboarding experience.

Using the right technology to manage the onboarding process can help employers provide a more thorough and organized experience. Ideally, candidates should be able to access all of their onboarding tasks in one centralized location. 

With ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform, all of the data that new hires provided during the recruiting stage can be transferred over to their employee file, eliminating the need for duplicate data entry. New employees can also easily navigate benefits enrollment, payroll, and time tracking within the HCM platform. Using a unified solution makes it easier for employees to get up and running as they don’t have to learn how to use different software platforms for each HR function. 

What’s more, employers can also streamline their process with an all-in-one solution. This includes managing learning goals and facilitating regular check-ins with new hires to track their progress and provide consistent, ongoing support.


Employee lifecycle: employees using a laptop

Once team members are fully onboarded and up to speed, they enter the employee retention phase of the employee lifecycle. This stage is focused on promoting employee engagement and morale to make sure that top talent sticks around. 

The retention phase is particularly significant for behavioral health and human services organizations. In the ContinuumCloud 2023 Behavioral Health Industry Trends Report, 91% of behavioral health organizations reported that they have a turnover rate of 20% or greater. 

This is the stage where managers can ramp up employee recognition efforts. While new hires often receive regular feedback and more hands-on support throughout the onboarding stage, this tends to wane once they settle into their roles. 

However, frequent recognition is crucial to maintaining employee satisfaction. According to research from Harvard Business School, over 80% of employees don’t feel adequately recognized or rewarded by their employers.

In a busy setting like a behavioral health facility, it may be challenging for frontline managers to keep track of each employee’s activities and remember to provide prompt feedback. As such, it’s helpful to digitize the employee recognition process. 

ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform can automate tasks so you can more easily track employee performance, learning goals, and achievements. This helps managers identify opportunities to provide recognition, plus there are templates available to make recognition quick and easy. The platform also features a built-in peer-to-peer recognition feature called “Shout Outs” that encourages employees to publicly recognize their peers for their hard work. 


In the employee development stage, employees are ready to be challenged and grow in their careers. This is the time to set a check-in meeting to discuss their goals and desired career path. Many managers only address performance management and career development during annual performance reviews. 

However, it’s best to make these conversations a more regular occurrence during the development stage of the employee lifecycle. If an employer isn’t proactive in sharing internal development opportunities, employees in this stage may start to look elsewhere for their next opportunity.

Another great way to engage employees in the development stage is to set learning goals that help them expand their skill set or complete training that can help them advance to the next stage of their career. With ContinuumCloud’s talent management tools, managers can easily assign learning goals and track progress to ensure that employees are continuously challenged and engaged in their own professional development. 


The final stage of the employee lifecycle is when an employee leaves, be it for personal reasons, a new role elsewhere, retirement, or involuntary termination. The exit is often the most overlooked employee lifecycle stage. Many employers do very little at this stage other than the basic required paperwork, but the exit phase should ideally include an organized offboarding process with an exit interview. 

An exit interview is an opportunity for the human resources department to collect feedback from the departing staff member. While there are many strategies — such as anonymous employee surveys — designed to facilitate employee feedback, exit interviews are an opportunity to gain some of the most open and honest feedback possible. Employers can ask questions about how satisfied the employee was with compensation, benefits, their manager, as well as the reason for their decision to quit if applicable.

In high-stress fields like behavioral health and human services, exit interviews can be particularly helpful in uncovering the causes of employee turnover. By listening to employees, leaders can learn how to minimize stress and prevent common issues like compassion fatigue and burnout that can put top talent at risk of leaving. 

When managed correctly, the exit stage can help employers collect incredibly valuable feedback and even gain some referrals in the future. Having happy past-employees is great for building your employer brand. Just as you hope that your past clients will speak highly of your services when they leave, ending the employee journey on a positive note can also encourage former employees to recommend you as a provider or employer to potential candidates, clients, and even donors.

Support Your Talent Throughout the Employee Lifecycle With ContinuumCloud 

Using a human capital management system like ContinuumCloud can help organizations better engage talent at every stage of the employee lifecycle. From a candidate’s first interaction with an employer to their last day of work, employers must be diligent in creating a positive, engaging experience for their workforce. Using a unified digital platform can make employee lifecycle management easier for employers and employees alike.

ContinuumCloud’s HCM platform is designed specifically to meet the unique needs of behavioral health and human services organizations. Contact us to learn how we can help your organization support your team throughout the entire employee lifecycle.

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