Improving the HR Lifecycle of Your Small Business

When it comes to small business operations, the HR lifecycle is more important than most other work. That’s because this process determines who you hire, who stays, and who elevates your company through ongoing innovation. 

Right now, we are in an era referred to as the “Great Resignation.” This is a time in which monthly quit rates have been as high as 2.9%, meaning record levels of workers leaving their jobs for other opportunities. To survive the Great Resignation, small businesses need an effective HR lifecycle. 

Fortunately, improving yours is a matter of understanding and empathy put into practice. Learn what the HR lifecycle entails, then use these tips to enhance it within your own small business. Many benefits await.

What is the HR lifecycle?

First, let’s define what the HR lifecycle is. 

In short, this is the process of building employee success from the hiring stage to (ideally) the retirement stage. By instituting best practices when hiring, you can better draw in talent that sticks with your fledgling business and helps it grow. This helps you to not only avoid firing but to build the best possible place to work. 

The HR lifecycle consists of five primary stages. Each of these has an impact on employee retention and success. From recruitment to continual evolution, here’s what these stages entail:

  1. RecruitmentAt this stage, you’re seeking out the right talent for open positions within your business. How you manage recruitment will have a domino effect on employee productivity and longevity. This makes finding the right people, to begin with, a critical step. You can start by forming clear expectations and job descriptions.
  2. EducationNo matter how educated they already are, employees will likely want and need additional training. Whether it's to do their job more effectively or just to feel like they aren’t remaining stagnant in their positions, employee education is crucial to success. Research indicates that 40% of employees will leave their jobs within a year if they don’t receive the job training necessary to become effective.
  3. DevelopmentWhile some employees will be content with an unchanging routine, you should always be advancing business goals. This includes advancing employees in the process. The development stage of the HR lifecycle entails an outline for growth in which employees can strive for their personal and professional goals in the context of your business.
  4. DepartureNo matter how effective your HR lifecycle is, you will have turnover. People sometimes need a change for reasons you can’t control, whether that change is retirement or a move across the country. The departure stage is about learning from this turnover and improving employee conditions from the feedback you gain.
  5. EvolutionFinally, we have the evolution stage, though this doesn’t really come last in the HR lifecycle. In fact, the evolution process should be occurring throughout all other stages, leading to new and better methods of recruitment and retention. This might include incorporating new technologies like application tracking or workforce management systems.

Despite this numbered list, the HR lifecycle is not a linear process. It’s a cycle, and this means that each stage will roll into the others as they impact and influence employee satisfaction.

From recruitment to evolution, this cycle dictates business potential from the earliest stages. For small businesses, this can mean the difference between failure and success. 

What the HR lifecycle means for small businesses

As you grow your small business, the role of HR may seem ill-defined, especially if you have very few employees on staff or are operating alone as an entrepreneur for now. However, the reality is that the HR lifecycle will come to be crucial the moment you start expanding. 

Human resources does exactly what the job title implies: provides human resources that can drive a business to success. Recruitment is the first step in this process, and yet many businesses start off on the wrong foot. For example, 61% of new hires say aspects of the job are different than what they were led to believe in an interview. 

Then, businesses continue to go wrong by failing to show appreciation for the talent they’ve acquired. With 79% of workers citing lack of appreciation as a major reason for quitting, a culture of recognition and respect is a key aspect of the HR lifecycle. 

In the era of mass resignations and remote work, this means finding ways to balance worker needs with business requirements. This might include building workflows, payscales, and incentives that support a remote work-life balance. Or it might include providing education on how to reduce digital overload and improve overall well-being. 

The HR lifecycle can make or break a business faster than you could possibly imagine. However, just about all the improvements you can make hinge on empathy and considerate practices. By making these values a priority throughout the cycle, you can elevate the potential of your small business.

Tips for improving the HR lifecycle of your small business

Improving the HR lifecycle might seem like a daunting task. How can you enhance recruitment and retention policies to best support employees? The immediate answers like elevating pay and benefits might be out of reach for your small business. However, there is plenty you can do even on a low budget. 

These tips will help you improve the HR lifecycle at every stage, leading to more satisfied employees and a greater brand reputation. Here’s what you should know:

  1. Be clear and transparent.One of the first and best steps you can take towards a comprehensive HR strategy is to prioritize clarity of expectations and transparency of business processes. This starts in recruitment with an authentic job description, a definitive (if negotiable) salary range, and a careful explanation of objectives. For remote work especially, doubling down on clarity can reduce common communication problems
  2. Invest in continuous employee education.The ongoing success of your employees depends upon their access to the training and resources they need. Improving HR means providing all the resources necessary to support an inclusive, appreciative working environment. For example, educating workers on microaggressions and the forms they take in the workplace cuts down on these damaging instances and cultivates a safer workspace.
  3. Create goal-based employee incentive programs.Aligning business and employee professional goals creates a mutually beneficial environment. Ask employees what their goals are and what they need to be successful. From here, build workflows and policies like flexible schedules, hybrid work options, or PTO incentives that keep workers engaged.
  4. Have open and honest discussions.Improving the HR lifecycle depends on open and honest discussions. At turnover, allow the departing employee to express all their feelings about the job and business process and listen with empathy and respect. Recording this feedback can lead to many valuable improvements that benefit recruitment and employee retention.
  5. Regularly engage employees for feedback, suggestions, and ideas.Similarly, engage employees consistently for their thoughts and feedback. Evaluate their morale and provide anonymous options for them to submit suggestions and ideas with zero retaliation. Employees feel more appreciated when they feel heard. Additionally, an environment that allows for open discussion is more open to value-boosting innovation.

In business, innovation is the key to growth. That’s why 79% of surveyed executives rank it within their top three priorities. However, innovating successfully starts with satisfied and engaged employees.

Start cultivating engagement and satisfaction at the recruitment stage. Then, constantly develop and improve helpful policies that reduce turnover and enhance satisfaction. With an improved HR lifecycle, you can build a business everyone wants to work for and buy from.


Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.

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