Beyond onboarding: creating memorable moments throughout the employee lifecycle

HR teams have an understandable focus on creating a world-class onboarding process—but looking beyond that first few weeks can also have an outsized impact. Here's a quick guide to key employee milestones you won't want to neglect.

HR teams have an understandable focus on creating a world-class onboarding process. After all, the data clearly shows what a huge impact it can have on retention and reducing the time employees need to become productive.

But looking beyond that first few weeks can also have an outsized impact. That’s especially true today, when retaining your best talent has never been more challenging, and budgets have never been tighter.

Here are a few ideas for other parts of the employee lifecycle where a little effort will be repaid in higher employee engagement, productivity and retention.

1. Aiming high, and achieving higher

Goal setting isn’t a solo mission—or it shouldn’t be. Employees should be collaborating with their managers to define goals based on team objective and a clear-eyed analysis of current strengths and potential growth areas. But crafting clear, relevant and challenging-but-achievable goals is no easy feat.

That’s where HR comes in. Leaders, managers and employees all need timely support and guidance in the goal-setting process. And of course HR are best placed to facilitate collaboration across departments and keep everyone on a timeline.

Shepherding the company through an effective goal-setting process, and then ensuring those goals aren't forgotten over the next few months is one of the most effective ways to showcase to leadership the impact of the HR team's work.

2. Every day’s a school day

It comes up again and again in exit interviews: employees leave companies due to a lack of development opportunities. Frustratingly, HR teams often provide a wide range of learning resources, which employees are simply not making use of.

Simply put: t’s not enough to curate a learning program that caters to employees’ professional needs from the vast landscape of trainings, workshops, and online resources. You’ll also need to proactively engage employees to help them navigate these options, check that there are no gaps, and remind them these resources exist.

When you do this effectively, you not only ensure you’re adding value to the company by upskilling the team, you also remove a key reason great employees leave.

4. Rise and shine, superstar

Promotion is an unbeatable opportunity to celebrate employees’ hard work and dedication. It’s also an opportunity to subtly remind them that they work at an organization dedicated to nurturing their potential, providing opportunities for growth and rewarding development.

Don’t forget the first few months after a promotion either. Once the euphoria’s worn off, the promoted employee often struggles to step up to their new responsibilities, at least at first.

Providing tailored support at these moments will win their loyalty, and ensure the company continues to benefit from the high performance of this rising star.

5. Thinking sideways

As employees embark on a new role or join a different team, they want a helping hand through the transition process. HR can play a crucial part behind the scenes to facilitate knowledge transfer and ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities. 

The most effective HR teams think about lateral moves as a new kind of onboarding and plan out the process with just as much care. By doing so, they set up the transitioning employee and both their future and former teams to hit the ground running.

6. Strive to thrive

Even superstar employees will perform poorly in a bad environment. So investing time and effort into benefits and wellbeing programs that create a supportive and healthy work environment will pay dividends in engagement and productivity. 

Often, the most powerful thing HR can do here is not to add more costly benefits – but to help employees navigate the existing offering, and offer timely reminders in key moments (like enrollment windows). Think of it as increasing the ROI of your existing program.

It never hurts to do periodic reviews of your programs, checking which  have the greatest engagement and the greatest impact on employee outcomes.

7. Say au revoir, not goodbye

Even when it's time to say goodbye, the journey doesn't have to end. Ensuring employee departures are as smooth and positive as their arrivals keeps the door open for future collaboration. It also increases the chance of past employees referring high quality talent in future.

Well-thought-out exit interviews and cultural rituals to express gratitude for the leaver’s contributions are (almost) as important as making sure all the compliance boxes are ticked off.

Conclusion: putting it into practice

Overstretched HR teams have to prioritise where they invest their time, to make sure they’re making the most impact possible. As a result, focusing on anything apart from onboarding might seem like a pipe dream.

However, new HR automation tools can make it possible to add some sparkle to these other key employee milestones, without requiring laborious manual effort. It’s really a case of working smarter, not harder, to deliver unforgettable experiences from the first day at work to the last.

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