The Employee Lifecycle Within People Advisory

Gusto Editors

Do you know how to use the employee lifecycle as a framework for assisting your clients?

As an accountant, you have uncommon experience and expertise to assist small businesses. You can advise your business clients in payroll and people advisory services, and you can help them at every stage of the employee lifecycle.

Gusto, along with our partners at CPA Academy, hosted a webinar all about people advisory and the employee lifecycle. Our presentation titled, “Adding Value to the Employee Lifecycle with People Advisory Services,” featured Jaclyn Anku, the Partner Education Manager at Gusto, and Caleb Newquist, Editor-at-Large at Gusto. You can watch the full presentation here.

In this article, you’ll learn all about the employee lifecycle and how you can use it as a framework to assist clients with people advisory.  

Utilizing the employee lifecycle phases

The employee lifecycle functions as a critical framework for offering people advisory services. You can assist your small business clients while adding more value to your firm by helping them with their people-based operations such as onboarding, HR, and benefits. You can enhance your client’s businesses by assisting them in each stage of the employee lifecycle: 

“The employee lifecycle summarizes the total employee experience. It is the collection of encounters employees have with their coworkers … from the first day that they apply to an open position to the day that they leave an organization. Modern people operations really focus on building value across the employee lifecycle to keep employees happy, healthy, and engaged. As people advisors, you can trim the employee lifecycle into a very helpful framework that provides a set of recommendations for each stage.”

Jaclyn Anku

The employee lifecycle comprises seven stages: attract, invite, onboard, engage, develop, retain, and depart. 

One helpful way to think about optimizing people management is that it’s incredibly similar to how you engage with a client. Caleb noted that clients follow a parallel lifecycle:

“The employee lifecycle reminds me a lot of the client lifecycle, where you try to attract clients to your business or your firm, and you invite them. You pitch them what you can do, and then you onboard them. … Then you engage with them regularly and serve them, and then you develop that relationship and make it richer and deeper through retention. Eventually, that client departs for one reason or another. The employee lifecycle follows the exact same pathway.”

Caleb Newquist

Understanding each phase of the employee lifecycle is invaluable for your ability to assist clients through the process. Small businesses often struggle with long-term retention of employees, and optimizing the employee lifecycle creates a better and more appealing work environment. Providing your clients with assistance through each stage of the employee lifecycle is essential for their business’ success. 

#1. Attracting talent

The first stage of the employee lifecycle is attracting talent, and an essential part of attracting the best employees is establishing values. Businesses need to convey their values when posting on job boards or using other advertising methods.

“More important than just going and blasting a job posting to a bunch of different job boards is actually establishing values and ensuring that those brand values are reflected in things like job postings and that positive buzz gets out into the community.”

Jaclyn Anku
Male employee holding a book in the office.

Business values are critically important for attracting and retaining employees, and values also increase the likelihood that employees will refer candidates to the business. Fortunately, small to mid-size businesses often have stronger values than larger corporations. 

“Small businesses … typically have a very unique brand and a passionate owner who started the business because they really cared about what they do. … A Global Talent Trends study found that working with a sense of purpose boosts employee motivation, productivity, morale, and overall job satisfaction.”

Jaclyn Anku

Values are fundamental for keeping a business fully staffed and increasing productivity. If your small to mid-size business client is having difficulty attracting and retaining talent, you may want to consider whether the business has well-defined values and if they convey those values to potential hires and their employees. 

#2. Invite

After your business client attracts talent, they need to court the new employee through a positive recruitment experience. Recruiting great talent is essential for a business’s health. The U.S. Department of Labor stated that hiring a bad candidate can lead to losses of up to 30% of the employee’s first year of earnings. To hire the best talent, your clients need to treat qualified candidates like they would a valuable customer:

“Small businesses can lead and keep great hires by treating recruits with the same care as they would a customer. If you think about recruiting as this time for building a memorable experience, creating first impressions, doing that vision setting, and being clear on what you’re hiring for, small businesses can keep good talent.”

Jaclyn Anku

Your clients need to be clear to candidates about their values and expectations for employees. Caleb noted that a significant reason why businesses have difficulty retaining employees long-term is that there’s a disconnect between a candidate’s expectations of a company and the reality of the business:

“[Candidates] get in it, and they’re just like, ‘Oh, this is nothing like I thought it would be.’ … I think that’s what causes people to leave. … It is really just a misalignment or a misunderstanding of expectations and what the reality is.”

Caleb Newquist

Your clients need to effectively present their business’s expectations and values to potential clients and candidates to avoid turnover. The business can convey its expectations and values through well-written descriptions composed by HR professionals.

#3. Onboarding employees

Onboarding is crucial for the long-term retention of employees, yet a survey conducted by Gallup indicated that only 12% of employees feel like their company onboarded them effectively. Businesses that offer great onboarding have a 50% higher retention rate and a 54% higher productivity rate among employees. 

“Good onboarding helps people feel welcome. As human beings, I think being out of our comfort zone is really hard, so any effort that an employer makes to make us feel even slightly less awkward and a little more comfortable on our first days on a job really goes a long way.”

Jaclyn Anku

Another critical part of effective onboarding is ensuring employees are enrolled in employee benefits if they’re available. With Gusto, you can provide your business clients with a seamless process for employees to receive benefits. 

#4. Engagement through employee engagement surveys

After onboarding employees, your business clients need to engage with them to ensure they stay with the company long-term. Employee engagement also establishes an emotional connection between businesses and employees so that employees care about their work:

“Employee engagement describes why people care about waking up in the morning and coming into work. … It’s the emotional connection that someone has to their job, which then fuels how much effort they put into it, their passion, their energy, their commitment. When clients can make work about more than just a paycheck, employees are likely to stay [with] their employer for longer.”

Jaclyn Anku
Company employees working in front of a desktop computer.

Employee engagement is essential for productivity and employee satisfaction. Your business clients can improve their employee engagement by utilizing employee engagement surveys. With Gusto, you can provide your clients with effective employee engagement surveys, and you can also offer additional methods of employee engagement:

“Through Gusto, clients can take very accessible and concrete steps toward deepening employee engagement through both small and big things. Through the platform, … you can send birthday cards. That really matters to people. You can also give employees a voice through conducting an employee engagement survey.”

Jaclyn Anku

Businesses can show that they care about their employees through minor gestures, such as celebrating work anniversaries, birthdays, and other milestones. Jaclyn noted that values are also critically important in this stage because they give employees a sense of purpose and belonging, which keeps them engaged and motivates them. 

#5. Develop

Your business clients can continue increasing employee engagement by offering development opportunities. Statistically, lack of career development is the primary reason employees leave their jobs, so offering opportunities for employees to grow is essential for small businesses. 

When advising your clients through the development stage, you can ask them questions regarding their ability to develop their employees:

“Are they conducting performance reviews, and are they doing that on a regular basis? Are they capturing feedback from the team to understand how they can support them in achieving their goals, both personally and professionally?”

Jaclyn Anku

You may feel out of your depth by assisting your clients with performance reviews, but you can at least get your clients started with the process by asking these questions. Performance reviews can drive employee development and productivity.

Additionally, you can continue encouraging your clients to utilize employee engagement surveys through this stage so their employees can express their feelings regarding their development and career progress

#6. Retain

The retain stage involves the guidance you give clients for the long-term retention of their employees. You can help your clients develop a compensation package to increase retention: 

“This really focuses on helping clients develop a compensation philosophy and package that can help them win and retain talent over the long term. … [Most] small business owners probably can’t compete in terms of the dollars they’re paying their team [compared to larger businesses], so how do you help them think more holistically, more broadly about the compensation that they’re offering?”

Jaclyn Anku

Work with your clients to determine what holistic compensation they can include in their budgets, such as benefits, paid time off, employee perks, and health insurance. Your clients can also communicate with their employees to see what they value in compensation packages to determine what’s included. 

Diverse group of employees meet casually with senior management.

The retention stage of the employee lifecycle is an optimal time to set your firm apart from others. You distinguish yourself as an accounting partner that does far more than just payroll. You assist your clients with critical benefits that retain employees and strengthen their businesses in the process.

#7. Offboarding

You should encourage your business clients to conduct exit interviews with their employees. Your clients can use the exit interview process to observe why employees are leaving:

“Advising your clients to conduct exit interviews is a very great way for them to understand the employee’s reason for leaving and for you to then start extrapolating patterns and mashing that up with what you’re seeing in the financials. How do you pair this qualitative feedback with the more quantitative metrics that you’re probably more used to looking at?”

Jaclyn Anku

You can help your clients by discovering patterns that may indicate why they’re losing employees. If the employees had issues because of a lack of development or engagement, you can work with your client to remedy the problem moving forward. 

With Gusto, you can make the offboarding process seamless as you and your clients evaluate why an employee exited: 

“If you partner with Gusto, the platform does help clients stay compliant in the offboarding flow, which can be a little daunting. Whether an employee leaves voluntarily or is furloughed or is dismissed, you can really count on the partnership to help your firm and the clients stay compliant.”

Jaclyn Anku

Gusto makes the compliance process of offboarding simple so that you can focus on improving your client’s employee lifecycle. 

Learn more about the employee lifecycle

When you offer your clients people advisory, you can assist them through every stage of the employee lifecycle. You can see the stage in which your clients have difficulty either attracting or retaining clients: 

“Where are your client’s bottlenecks? … If you see [the employee trends] and then you can refer back to the employee lifecycle in your mind’s eye, and you start thinking about, ‘Okay, which areas can I give advice, and where will my advice be most impactful?’ That’s how you can really use this framework and pull it into your day-to-day work with clients to start standing out as a people advisor.”

Jaclyn Anku

When you become an influential people advisor for your clients, you can help them create a better workplace for their employees. You can also generate more revenue for your firm by offering advising services beyond payroll. Also, be sure to check out Part One of this webinar article series.

If you’re looking to get started with offering people advisory services, check out Gusto’s People Advisory Certification program. Join a community of accountants and bookkeepers building for the future with our People Advisory Certification and Gusto Pro’s modern tools. As a People Advisor, you can better serve your clients and their incredible teams. Get certified.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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