“Employee life cycle” refers to the phases or steps followed by employees during their tenure with an organization: beginning with talent acquisition and onboarding; followed by cultural affinity and integration, performance management, development and employee relations; and ending with offboarding and transition. It includes the totality of the experience your employees have before, during and after working with your organization.

Employer brand refers to your reputation as an employer in the talent marketplace. It’s the perception that others have about what it’s like to work for you and can include everything from how you treat candidates to how you’ve handled a RIF. It comes to life when individuals say things like, “That’s a great place to work”; “I’d love to work there”: or “That’s a company I would never consider joining.”

Employer branding and the management of your brand is often linked primarily to the talent attraction and recruiting phase of the employee lifecycle. Your brand, however, touches all parts of the employee lifecycle.

While HR professionals understand they are “branding” their culture and approach the initial branding strategy phase with a goal of complete integration, they often miss opportunities to build a true continuum across the entire employee life cycle. HR teams usually do an effective job of ensuring brand alignment with the onboarding process, and they understand how branding initiatives can impact employee retention, but they sometimes neglect other HR functional areas, such as employee relations, compensation and benefits, learning and development, and performance management.

Ensuring that the employer brand is managed cohesively while being consistently applied and purposefully connected across all human resources areas allows you to continuously communicate the value proposition of your employer brand throughout all the touch points of the employee lifecycle.

Here are a few things to consider.

Development/Retention

Providing professional growth and development opportunities allows you to reinforce your culture and brand while demonstrating your commitment to talented staff members. Do your learning and development programs and training methods support the employer brand? Are your managers and leaders able to fulfill the brand promise in such areas as growth and enablement? Is there clarity and commitment around career development? Do you provide not only the budget, but also the time and opportunity for employees to pursue professional development?

Employee Relations

Developing policies and related HR programs is often a key accountability for HR teams, yet we often miss the opportunity to make sure our policies and procedures are accurately conveying the employee value proposition. Are policies current and engaging? Are all managers equipped with the skills to be effective including cross cultural communication and interpersonal skills? Does the manner in which you handle corrective actions, whether related to performance issues or policy violations, sync with your employer brand and stated values?

Offboarding and Transition

It is perhaps at this stage that employers have the best opportunity to strengthen their employer branding. When employees leave the organization, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, it’s quite easy to neglect them. “They’re leaving us,” we might say, “so what does it matter?” But it’s perhaps at this after-employment stage that we can have some of the greatest impact.

Former employees will share stories of their employment experience with others; those stories, if positive, can lead to either business referrals or employee referrals. It goes without saying that team members who leave must be treated with respect and dignity; show them the same care that you did when you recruited and hired them. After all, if handled appropriately, your former employees will remain your advocates and may themselves wish to return one day. Do you offer an outplacment program to all employees in the case of a layoff? Are you keeping in touch with those who have left? Have you built an alumni network?

Reviewing your employee lifecycle with the goal of fully aligning the employer brand can ensure that you take advantage of multiple opportunities to build, clarify, and deepen connection to the culture. It allows you to deliver on what you say throughout every stage of the employee lifecycle.

Robin Schooling, SPHR, with 20+ years of HR leadership experience, is Managing Director/Strategist with Silver Zebras, LLC where she works with organizations to develop integrated HR and Talent management strategies. She has a popular blog at the HR Schoolhouse and regularly speaks at events around the country on HR and business topics. She’s been named the Greater Baton Rouge SHRM HR Professional of the Year, has served on the Boards of Directors for Geaux Veterans and the Louisiana Business Leadership Network and was named one of the The Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts On Twitter by the Huffington Post. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, has been known to search out the perfect French 75, and gets pretty loud and rambunctious during New Orleans Saints games.

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