What Are the Stages of an Employee Journey?

employee journey

Why is it important to know the stages of an employee journey? For one thing, it’ll help you understand the needs and priorities of your employees. What a new employee cares about during the first month of their job will be vastly different from what they prioritize after a few years. Understanding will help you keep your employees engaged and happy with the company.

You might’ve heard about the customer experience journey: it’s how a customer finds your company, looks at your products or services, interacts with different parts of your company website, and ultimately hits one of your goals, like making a purchase. A customer journey map helps marketers identify customer motivation, pain points, and customer habits.

Thinking about this process as a journey is a strategy typically used for analyzing customers, but you can also use it for employees, too. Creating an employee journey map can help you understand the stages of an employee journey. What happens once an employee applies to your organization, joins it, works for awhile, and then quits? All the stages in between are part of an employee journey.

So, let’s talk about the various stages of an employee journey.

First job interview

The employee journey (also called the employee experience) starts with a series of “firsts:” when they first interview with your company, their first day at work after getting hired, and their first interaction with management.

The hiring process is a stressful one for both candidate and employer, but it’s important that the applicant experience is positive. When a jobseeker has a good experience applying and interviewing with your organization, they’re more likely to spread good word of mouth about it–even if they didn’t get the job.

Creating an ideal applicant experience takes a lot of work. Some notable tips include communicating and being transparent, consider the needs of your candidates, and always be open to feedback on how you did. You’re more likely to reel in some top talent when you’re known for having a thoughtful interview process.

First day at work

Imagine that you’re a jobseeker who nailed your interviews for a position at a company you admire. You’re heading in to the office for your first day on the job, nervous but excited. As you enter the reception area, the administrative assistant takes a long time to notice you, and acts aloof and distracted.

“Maybe he was just busy,” you think as you ride the elevator towards your department with a few other people. You work up the courage to say hi to one of them and ask if they work in the same department as you. “Oh, yeah,” responds one person, eyes glued to their phone. End of conversation.

You get to your desk and find that you don’t know where your team leader is, the person who’ll be showing you around the building and getting everything set up for you. You ask around the office, but people don’t seem to know or care. So, you wait at your desk for 30 minutes before a harried-looking employee comes rushing over, looking annoyed.

Ouch. Not the most welcoming of first days, right? No one at this office technically did anything wrong, and they certainly could have had their minds on other things. But this kind of behavior towards new employees is a red flag for the company culture. It sets the tone for the new employee’s journey, and it’s not a good one.

It could have been an off-day for the team, but what are the odds that this is the office vibe every day? And what are the odds that you’ll stay at this company longer than at a different company where people are friendly, eager to help, and excited that you’ve joined their team?

First performance review

If your supervisor or manager messed up on getting your first day right, here’s a stage during the employee journey when they can make up for it.

Leaders conducting first performance reviews for new employees should be open to feedback. They should also have a structured process in place because, well, this is a new employee who has never done a performance review with your company before. Even if the company culture is relaxed and casual, a performance review must still be treated seriously. This is just another stage in the employee journey that can affect how an employee feels about their company and how long they’ll stay.

Ongoing development

After an employee is no longer considered “new,” there’s a broad stage that we’ll call ongoing development. They’ve gotten over their new employee jitters, and they’re probably more confident in their role at this point.

One way to track the employee journey during this stage is to ask the same questions during regular performance reviews. Observe how your employee’s answers change over time:

  • What accomplishments during this period are you most proud of?
  • What motivates you to complete your work?
  • How can we help you do your job more effectively?
  • What is one skill or area you’d like to focus on in the near future?
  • What part of your job comes easiest to you? What is the hardest?
  • What do you like most about your role? What would you change?

You can imagine that an employee’s answers will be different after 3 months, 1 year, 3 years, or 10 years. You might also find similarities across many employees’ answers if they’ve been at the company for around the same time. Maybe some employees tend to feel stagnant after 3 years, or they’re less satisfied with their role after 5 years. Looking at this data is a valuable way to address employee needs.

Separation

Nobody likes a breakup, but the employee journey does eventually have to end. If an employee is resigning or retiring, the exit interview is a perfect time to get as much feedback as possible on the previous stages of their journey (though you should have been getting some information in their performance reviews.)

What were notable moments in their employee experience that they remember? Did the company make a good first impression during orientation or onboarding? Were they happy with their manager and their coworkers? What did they like about the company? What didn’t they like?

Use employee journey data to your advantage

Every employee’s journey is different, but by tracking the stages of employee journeys to find patterns and commonalities, you can find ways to improve your employee experience. That way, you can create a better journey for your team members, from start to finish.