Guide To The 13 Stages Of The Human Resources Life Cycle

How to attract, hire, manage and exit your employees.


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Last updated: April 22nd, 2024

human resources life cycle

Last updated: April 22nd, 2024

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The employee life cycle model is a framework that outlines the various stages that an employee typically goes through during their time with a company.

Below we explore the entire HR cycle from start to finish, based on the 13-step framework presented by Storey, Wright & Ulrich (2019), with tips on how to best drive performance in your organisation. Let’s get cracking!

HR lifecycle

1. Business Strategy.

All businesses require a business strategy before they can begin to put any HR processes in place. An effective business strategy clearly outlines the following: 

  • The core values of a business.
  • Resource allocation.
  • Financial and market objectives.
  • Role and team structure. 
  • The long-term vision of your business. 

It is the responsibility of the company’s HR manager to analyse the organisation’s current business strategy.

They will: 

  • Ensure all employees are aligned with the same goals.
  • Create a plan for any employee concerns.
  • Communicate the strategy and processes to the broader company.

Expert tip.

A comprehensive business strategy establishes priorities that affect the entire HR life cycle. One way to begin your business strategy is to undertake a SWOT analysis.

2. Human Resource Strategy.

Once you determine your business strategy (internally or with an HR manager), the following steps are: 

  • Translate it into an HR strategy.
  • Hire a larger HR team to action the process. 


The HR team should focus on improving management and increasing employee productivity, enabling your business to grow.

For an HR strategy to be effective, it must: 

  • Enhance employee engagement. Read here for tips. 
  • Improve the corporate image. How? Consider social media, charity work, an improved customer experience, and other actionable steps here.
  • Provide career development and advancement. Employees should feel supported in growing and that their managers provide valuable feedback regularly.
  • Operate within your industry-specific legal framework.
  • Implement a performance management system or improve the current system. Explore our tips here.

3. Organisational Design.

Once you have onboarded the right team to assist your HR overhaul, the next step is translating the business and HR strategies into a practical organisational design. This involves:

  • Creating a well-structured hierarchy within the company.
  • Clearly defining roles and team structure.
  • Outline processes that align with the company’s objectives.

HR can create a proper organisational design by: 

  • Utilising top talent to run efficient and high-performing teams. 
  • Outlining clear priorities of the business against broader marketing goals. 
  • Maximising team and employee strengths. 
  • Offering additional training.

It’s about ensuring the company is functioning at optimal output whilst maintaining culture and morale

4. Job And Team Design.

As highlighted, the best way to achieve your business goals is by first hiring and then delegating tasks to highly-skilled people with the proper knowledge for their roles.

If you’re still unsure of the tangible impact HR can have on your company, let us explain.

HR experts are pivotal in designing the jobs that will help achieve the company’s goals. They will: 

  • Recruit employees with a high level of abilities and talents.
  • Power them together to work towards common goals.
  • Streamline teams.
  • Ensure all employees can grow in their roles.
  • Maintain the efficiency of team workflow.
  • Address employee concerns.

They then maintain the efficiency of the company by: 

  • Measuring morale.
  • Conducting job and business structure analysis. 
  • Re-designing processes. 
  • Maintaining performance and competency reviews. 

5. Human Resources Planning.

An essential part of the process involves future-proofing the business.

The HR manager will need to: 

  • Project the demand and supply of labour in a business.
  • Analyse the organisational approach and technological investments that will impact internal labour demand.
  • Consider the necessary future employment and how this will affect resources and teams.

Conversely, they can manage supply by analysing: 

  • Internal and external supply in the labour market.
  • The skills and talent of the current employees.
  • Retention potential.

(Related: How To Write A Job Description That Attracts Top Talent).

For best results, we advise HR teams to create an action plan for the employees based on the demand and supply of labour, which can involve: 

  • Aggressive hiring.
  • Internal transfers.
  • Retraining.
  • Automation processes.
  • Hiring or bonus freezes. 
  • Early retirement.


Labour requirements constantly change due to seasons and customer habits. Maintaining a well-built process (that isn’t wholly reactive) will ensure your company remains stable despite market fluctuations. 

6. Company Culture And Vision.

Culture is at the core of any business.

Culture offers a structure to compare against when training or evaluating employee performance, plus it differentiates your business from the competition. It trickles into every aspect of the work. 

An example of healthy company culture is when: 

  • Management allows employees to voice their concerns.
  • Management regularly check-in with team morale. 
  • Anonymous surveys are encouraged. 
  • Employees are involved in decision-making, especially on issues that concern their welfare.
  • Teams assist one another and collaborate. 
  • You base rewards on a program, not favouritism. 

You can improve your culture by adopting Agile principles.

Expert Tip.

Employees should naturally contribute to a company’s culture, which comes down to hiring the right fit. Explore tips on recruiting the right talent here.

7. Recruitment And Selection.

Recruitment is the stage of the HR cycle where the employee experience begins. To be successful at the recruitment stage of the HR lifecycle, your HR department should:

  • Thoroughly analyse the roles of employees and what they involve.
  • Create a strategic hiring plan.
  • Create competitive pay and benefits packages to entice the best employees.
  • Establish a hiring procedure appropriate for available positions.
  • Advertise job vacancies in the relevant channels.
  • Use evaluations like personality profiles to select the ideal candidates. 
  • Use modern technology (candidate tracking software) to filter through applications.

For more guidance on hiring, explore our guide here.

8. The Onboarding Process And Induction.

Employee onboarding starts upon hiring. It involves managing new hires’ performance until their productivity reaches the optimum level.

It allows employees to: 

  • Learn their new responsibilities.
  • Create new relationships with co-workers.
  • Carve out a niche for themselves within the business. 

The role of the HR manager is to:

  • Educate the employees about the company’s culture.
  • Convey the ideals and brand of your company.
  • Sync performance standards with institutional expectations.
  • Ensure the new employee is provided with all training documents and processes.

Your HR managers should develop a comprehensive onboarding program unique to your company. 

9. Assessment And Appraisal.

A crucial component of the HR cycle involves performance management. Here, your HR managers will assess the performance of each employee in your business and provide employee feedback.

Performance management involves: 

  • One-on-one sessions (regularly) to discuss performance based on the data.
  • An action plan to meet objectives that are currently not up to standard. 
  • Encouragement, bonuses, or opportunities for those who exceed KPIs.

HR managers will introduce new strategies to enhance and track performance, regardless of an employee’s position. 

10. Training And Development.

The needs of your business will change as the company adapts and grows.

Expert Tip.

To continue working productively, the HR team should prioritise improving the skills and education of all employees, not just the manager.

Offering training and skills development can: 

  • Aid in employee retention.
  • Maximise teams to work collaboratively. 
  • Eliminate the need for recruiting new employees. 

HR professionals will need to check in with each team and individual employee to understand their personal and professional goals, areas of weakness, and how they intend to grow within the company. 

11. Engagement And Reward.

One of the most important aspects of a successful company is its ability to retain employees.

Your HR managers contribute by recognising, engaging, and rewarding workers.

You can use several strategies to engage the employees in your business, including rewarding hard-working employees with monetary incentives to encourage them to keep working hard. 

Read here for a comprehensive list of employee rewards beyond monetary bonuses.


The company must commit to the proposed employee benefits programs so that teams feel genuinely supported and recognised for their efforts. 

12. Career Planning And Management.

All employees are different; therefore, you shouldn’t manage your entire team the same way.

Teams require a personalised management style to maximise their skills. 

Expert Tip.

Consider profiling your team through Myers-Briggs personality types, allowing you to structure teams best.

The HR department should assist employees in achieving their goals as soon as they have established themselves at the company and clarified their long-term career aspirations. These goals should be realistic and adaptable to more significant business growth. 

13. Exit.

All cycles, including the HR cycle, typically come to an end. Employees may leave your business for several reasons, including: 

  • Retirement.
  • Further studies.
  • Taking care of family obligations.
  • Searching for greener pastures.

Another reason employees may leave your business is if they fail to meet your standards or engage in inappropriate behaviours.

Despite the reason for leaving, your HR should ensure that the employees exit respectfully and supportedly.

We recommend that you:  

  • Conduct exit interviews. 
  • Complete all paperwork. 
  • Address any outstanding concerns. 
  • Supervise a handover between colleagues.


You should maintain respectful relationships with former employees, where possible. They become valuable resources or references in the future. 

Refining Your Employee Life Cycle.

HR is one of the vital and impactful aspects of any business. 

An HR manager has the power to ensure employee satisfaction and maximise work quality, collaboration, and output.

Remember that HR is a continuous cycle that will ebb and flow with your business goals and growth. For this process to run smoothly, employ qualified teams and provide them with the knowledge and tools (ongoingly) to succeed. 

Whether you require one HR manager or an entire team, you will soon see the power of implementing the necessary HR cycle in your company, notably through the performance and satisfaction of your entire team!


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