How to build employee engagement at every lifecycle

In this post, we’ll be looking in detail at what you can do to engage employees — from recruitment to an employee’s first day to their annual review and beyond.

What we'll cover

The first days in a new job are always a little stressful. There are faces and names to remember, new systems to learn, and a ton of information to process.

A good onboarding program alleviates some of that stress. It gives employees the information and support they need to quickly acclimatize to their new role.

But onboarding programs aren’t as good as employees would like them to be. According to a survey by payroll company Paychex, only 52% of employees say they’re satisfied with the onboarding experience at their current job.

The research also revealed that poor onboarding can lead to:

  • Disorientation
  • Feeling undervalued
  • Losing trust in the organization
  • Losing interest in the role

An employee’s first few months at your organization are crucial to employee retention. We know that up to 20% of new hires quit within the first 45 days of employment and that, by 90 days, almost a third of new employees have chosen to leave.   

To prevent your newly hired talent from going the same way, it may be time to rethink onboarding.  

Good onboarding goes beyond orientation. It’s a program of employee engagement that starts before an employee arrives for their first day and continues for up to a year.

At this point, it blends seamlessly with your employee engagement strategy to sustain engagement and retention over the entire employee lifecycle.

In this post, we’ll be looking in detail at what you can do to engage employees — from recruitment to an employee’s first day to their annual review and beyond.

Ready to engage new employees from day one? 

An overview of the employee lifecycle

We can break the employee lifecycle down into five key stages. These are:

Attraction — The employer branding, recruitment marketing, and job ads that introduce potential applicants to your organization.

Recruitment — The process of shortlisting, interviewing, and hiring employees.

Onboarding — Assimilating new hires into your organization through a comprehensive training and coaching program.

Development — Giving employees the training and development opportunities they need to progress in their careers.

Separation — Parting on good terms so that ex-employees will continue to act as employer brand advocates.

At every stage of the employee lifecycle, you need to incorporate employee engagement and retention strategies. These will help to ensure employee satisfaction long term.

Some things should come as standard. A positive workplace culture. Co-worker connection. Open company-wide communication. Employees should also get the training, resources, and tech tools they need to succeed in their work.

These engagement essentials apply to every employee, at every lifecycle stage. But you can also tailor strategies to the tenure of each individual. Engagement and retention success requires a blend of broad, ongoing initiatives and targeted interventions at key points in the employee lifecycle.

The importance of employee engagement through onboarding and beyond

To keep employees invested in their work and your company, you need an engagement strategy that starts and ends strong. It should begin before a new hire’s first day — where it sets the scene for the employee experience — and continue beyond their last.

Get it right and here’s what you can expect for your organization.

Better productivity and performance

Engaged employees are invested in their work and your company. This means they’re more likely to work hard. They’re happy to collaborate and innovate. They’re committed to quality and make fewer mistakes.

Improved employee retention rates

When you make a success of employee engagement throughout the employee lifecycle, workers are less likely to leave your organization. There are lots of benefits associated with employee retention. These include reduced recruitment costs, improved employee training, and improved customer relationships.

Stronger workplace culture

Engaged employees contribute to a strong workplace culture. They’re confident in their roles and resilient to stress. They demonstrate collaboration, trust, and motivation — helping to amplify workplace values.

Increased business profits

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report for 2024, sustained employee engagement helps organizations achieve their goals. Benefits include:

  • a 23% increase in profitability
  • a 17% increase in productivity
  • a 10% increase in customer loyalty

You also reduce costs associated with recruitment.

How to engage workers at every stage of the employee lifecycle

So we’ve covered the employee lifecycle — and why employee engagement is important for your business. Now, let’s look at what you can do to improve engagement and retention at every lifecycle stage. 


At this first stage of the employee lifecycle, it’s all about employer branding. You need to get clear on your brand — then, create engaging content, job ads, and job descriptions that showcase it. 

Just be sure that your branding accurately reflects who you are as an organization. It should create realistic expectations for prospective employees so there’s no confusion when a new hire starts work.

Work on employee engagement throughout the rest of the lifecycle and existing employees will do some of this hard work for you. If they feel engaged, they’re more likely to share their positive employee experience — in online employer reviews and via word of mouth. This makes it easier to attract talented candidates. 

Key employee engagement tasks:

  • Clarify your employer brand
  • Create content that showcases your employer brand
  • Write detailed job descriptions


How you treat candidates during the recruitment process is important. It helps to establish your workplace culture in the minds of candidates. It also impacts employee engagement during this lifecycle phase and beyond.

So aim for a speedy recruitment process, punctuated with reliable and engaging communications. Show appreciation for the time candidates spend on their applications and try to reply to everyone who applies, even those who are unsuccessful.

Also, highlight your company values as often as possible. Make it clear what matters to your organization and how people achieve success there.  

Key employee engagement tasks:

  • Streamline your recruitment process so candidates aren’t left waiting
  • Highlight workplace culture in comms and interviews
  • Use candidate communications to thank candidates for their time and effort


Once a candidate has accepted your job offer, you can start giving them the support and resources they need to hit the ground running.

So give them practical information, like where they should go and what they should wear on their first day. Send over a copy of the employee handbook and get them started on new hire paperwork.

Also, help them to build some early connections. Get their manager to send a friendly note and — if you have lots of new hires starting at the same time — put them in contact with each other via your company intranet or app. That way, they’ll know at least one familiar face.

You might like to send a small gift to your new hire, too. A welcome package, including items like cookies or a coffee mug, helps to create a sense of belonging before employees even step through the door.

Key employee engagement tasks:

  • Send a gift
  • Give employees access to useful information
  • Introduce employees to at least one manager or employee

Day one

First impressions are difficult to change and we know that 44% of new hires regret their decision after the first week.

But we also know that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years after a great onboarding experience. So start as you mean to go on. 

Before your new hire arrives, tell the relevant team to expect them and prep any essential devices, passwords, and resources. Set them up an account on the company intranet or app.

During the first day, give employees a clear point of contact. This could be a manager, buddy, or mentor — someone they can turn to with their questions or concerns. Also, give them clear information on their role and assign lots of time for relationship-building — with managers and co-workers.

The priorities for this first week are practicalities, culture, and connection. Focus on these areas and don’t overwhelm your new hires with too much information. 

Start by establishing the basics. For example, for frontline workers, you may like to begin by training them in essential health and safety protocols. You can then build on this foundation logically over the next weeks and months.

Also, make sure that new hires find it easy to access the information they need during these early days. In frontline organizations, a mobile-first digital solution — with all tools and resources available via one dashboard and one login — works best. 

That way, employees don’t have to track down a paper manual to read up on policies. Or go to a more experienced member of staff to get answers to their FAQs. They have essential onboarding resources at their fingertips. This speeds up their learning.  

Key employee engagement tasks:

  • Ensure your new hire’s workstation, log in details, and passes are ready to go
  • Introduce your employee to other members of the team
  • Introduce your new hire to the employee app and its onboarding resources

Day 30

At this point in the employee lifecycle, your new hire is probably feeling more familiar with the basics of your organization. But onboarding is far from over. Employees are still learning the ropes and need ongoing support.  

So conduct regular check-ins. These meetings are an opportunity to find out what extra training your new hires might need. They’re a chance to highlight areas of achievement and to provide constructive criticism. 

Clear expectations are also important. Work together to set goals for the next couple of months and for the first year.   

Encourage employees to share their thoughts too, either in these face-to-face meetings or with the help of anonymous survey tools.

Find out what they think of the onboarding and employee experience so far. Ask about the quality of the information provided and the pace of delivery. Employee answers will help you improve your onboarding process for future hires.

Key employee engagement tasks:

  • Send out a survey to assess the initial onboarding experience
  • Conduct regular check-ins
  • Set goals for 90 days and the first year

Day 90

Three months in, your employee should now feel like a productive member of their team. They’re contributing in a meaningful way towards company objectives.

So now’s the time for another review. This is another chance to discuss progress, celebrate achievements, and review any goals you set in previous meetings.

You could also try to broaden an employee’s experience at this point. Perhaps there are new projects or responsibilities an employee could take on. Or useful connections they could build with other teams or departments.

It’s also helpful to outline what career paths are available within your organization. In frontline organizations, particularly. Here, it can be hard for new employees to visualize where they go from the shop floor or the warehouse.  

Mapping the opportunities available helps keep people engaged and invested in their work. It gets them thinking about a long-term future at your organization, too.  

Key employee engagement tasks:

  • Review goals and progress toward them
  • Recognize and praise success
  • Discuss career paths along with learning and development needs

Day 180

Mid-way through an employee’s first year is another great point for engagement intervention. You should ensure that employees are getting training and development opportunities that align with their career goals.

Supporting employees to network is also important. Encourage them to take part in employee communities and company-wide committees. Keep planning social events that support team building and co-worker connection.

Also, remind employees of your open-door policy. They should know who to turn to — and feel comfortable raising their problems and questions.

Key employee engagement tasks:

  • Enroll employees in learning and development programs
  • Plan social activities that widen an employee’s network
  • Remind employees of your open-door policy

Day 365

After a year in the job, it’s time for a celebration. Recognize your employee for all they’ve achieved in their first 365 days by posting a message of appreciation on the company news feed. That way, co-workers can add their own congratulations, too.  

Now is also a great time to give and gather employee feedback. In the annual performance review, highlight employee successes and areas for improvement. Set new goals for the coming year.

To get honest employee feedback, use a mix of surveys and 1:1 meetings. Get employee satisfaction scores. Then, use them alongside other employee engagement KPIs to find out how your organization has performed over the first year of the employee lifecycle.  

Drill down into the data to find particular teams, managers, or departments that aren’t producing the employee retention and engagement you’d hope for. Then use your findings to make data-backed improvements.

Key employee engagement tasks:

  • Recognize this milestone!
  • Conduct an annual performance review
  • Look at surveys and analytics to assess your onboarding process

One year +

As we mentioned earlier, employee engagement and retention efforts don’t end after the first week, the first month, or even the first year of the employee lifecycle.  

A year in, you should strive to maintain a positive and inclusive workplace culture. You should prioritize clear and effective internal communication using dedicated employee communication tools. You should continue to recognize and reward good work.

Training is also still important. As well as offering learning and development opportunities, you may like to consider stretch assignments or lateral moves so employees continue to feel challenged and engaged in their work.

If an employee decides to leave, conduct timely exit interviews and surveys. Find out why employees are leaving and what would convince them to stay.

Supportive, two-way conversations at this point in the employee lifecycle can help you identify and rectify engagement issues, making your organization an even better place to work. They also increase your chance of ex-employees becoming loyal employer brand advocates.

Key employee engagement tasks:

  • Continue to recognize and reward employee work
  • Support employees to achieve their career goals
  • When an employee leaves, conduct exit interviews and surveys

Using technology to boost engagement throughout the employee lifecycle

Improving employee engagement across the whole of the employee lifecycle improves retention, productivity, and business profits. But completing tasks in line with key lifecycle milestones inevitably adds to the workload of already stretched managers and HR teams. 

This is where the right technology — like a modern intranet or an employee app — makes things easier. By giving employees access to an intuitive, digital platform, you benefit from the following. 

Surveys. You can use an employee app or modern intranet to send surveys to employees. Because these surveys come in a user-friendly format, you get more responses and more useful data.

A centralized hub. You can give employees access to a digital hub. This contains useful onboarding information like policy documents, FAQs, and a people directory. It also provides easy access to other workplace tools, like learning and development software.

Recognition. With the help of an engaging company news feed, it’s easy to share recognition with employees and the wider company, too.

Automation. The right tech will send automated messages and surveys as employees reach each new milestone, taking the pressure off your managers and HR team.

Communication channels. Employee communication tools make it easier for you to conduct 1:1s and share company culture with all employees — including those who work remotely or at the frontlines of your organization.

Data. You can see how new and seasoned employees interact with your chosen platform, getting to know which content best engages your workers and spotting engagement issues early. 

Analytics. Analytics and reporting features help you understand survey responses and identify gaps in your engagement strategy.

Here at Blink, our employee super-app provides all of the above to every employee’s smartphone.

You can use Employee Journeys — along with features like surveys, recognition, and a content hub — to deliver a personalized content path for employees.

With our app, you can automate need-to-know messages and milestones from day one of the employee lifecycle, supporting a comprehensive and consistent onboarding, training, and feedback experience.

If you’d like to learn more about Blink and what it can do for employee engagement throughout the employee lifecycle, schedule a personalized demo today.

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