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Hire, Inspire, Admire, Retire: A Condensed Employee Life Cycle

People don't really work for companies; they work for a boss. To the extent that you can be a good boss, you can keep employees, keep them happy, and reduce the costs associated with employee turnover. In the process, you will make your...

by Joel Robitaille
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Today I saw a chart of a 12-step Employee Life Cycle. Maybe Human Resources professionals need that much detail, but functional managers don't. Here is a four-step, condensed employee life cycle plan that tells you everything you need to know.

Hire, Inspire, Admire, Retire

An employee life cycle is the steps the employees go through from the time they enter a company until they leave. Often Human Resources professionals focus their attention on the steps in this process in hopes of making an impact on the company's bottom line. That is a good thing for them to do. Their goal is to reduce the company's cost per employee hired.

Unfortunately, they aren't the ones who really make a difference – managers are. People don't really work for companies; they work for a boss. To the extent that you can be a good boss, you can keep employees, keep them happy, and reduce the costs associated with employee turnover. In the process, you will make your own job easier and increase your value to the company.

Employees are one of a company's largest expenses these days Unlike other major capital costs (buildings, machinery, technology, etc.) human capital is highly volatile. You, as a manager, are in a key position to reduce that volatility using the condensed employee life cycle of HIAR (pronounced hire) - Hire, Inspire, Admire, Retire.


This first step is probably the most important. It is important to hire the best people you can find. This is not a time to be cheap. The cost of replacing a bad hire far exceeds the marginal additional cost of hiring the best person in the first place.

  • Hire talent, not just trainable skills. Skills can be taught to a talented employee. A skilled employee can not just be given talent.
  • Improve your interviewing skills. Often this can be as simple as knowing what questions to ask during the hiring process.
  • Make your company a place people want to come to and work for. Company culture can be a powerful recruiting tool. Make sure yours reflects the goals the company wants to achieve.


Once you have recruited the best employees to come to work on your team, the hard part begins. You have to inspire them to perform to their capabilities. You have to challenge and motivate them. That is where you will get their best effort and their creativity that will help your organization excel.

  • Make them welcome. Make them feel like part of the team from the first day.
  • Set goals for them that are hard, but can be achieved.
  • Be a leader, not just a manager.


Once you have hired the best employees and have challenged and motivated them, you can not relax. The biggest mistake a manager can make is to ignore employees. The same attention you paid to their work assignments, to their satisfaction levels, to their sense of being part of a great team needs to continue for as long as they are in your group. As soon as you start to slack off, their satisfaction and motivation decreases. If you don't do something, they will become disenchanted and will leave. They will become part of the "employee turnover" statistic you were trying to avoid.

  • You want TGIM (thank goodness it's Monday) employees not TGIF (thank goodness it's Friday) ones.
  • Give them positive feedback as much as you can, even if it's just a good word.
  • Provide appropriate rewards and recognition for jobs done well.
  • Create referral programs and reward your employees for referring other employee candidates "who are just as great as you."


This is when you know you have been successful. When employees see your company as the employer of choice, they will join you. When they recognize you as a good boss and a real leader, they will stay around. As long as you continue to inspire, motivate, and challenge them, they will continue to contribute at the high levels you need in order to beat your competition. They will be long-term employees; even staying with you and your company until they retire. They will refer other quality employees to your company, including their relatives. You will attract and retain second and even third generation employees.

Along the way, you will have had some of the most creative employees, some of the most productive employees, and the lowest employee costs in your market. You will be able to spend the money you save in this way on other key competitive elements, including raises and bonuses for all employees – even yourself.