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3 Phases of the Employer-Employee Engagement Cycle

As companies move from transactional, short-term hiring to longer, relationship-building methods, we see that employer and candidate pass through a clear three-phase cycle. These three phases describe the level and quality of engagement between employee and employer, which we call the Engagement Cycle:

1. Attract.

The Attract phase is a long-term “dance” between you and the candidate. It includes every activity meant to position the organization as a potential employer in the mind of a candidate. You project a carefully crafted, authentic image as an employer; they become aware of your organization’s specific attributes. Your employees spread your reputation as an employer; the candidate listens and assesses you as a potential workplace. It’s a similar dance to the way consumers are drawn to brands in the marketplace.

2. Acquire.

This phase involves all the interactions between you and candidates from the moment they reach out to you. You advertise a position and they apply. You treat their application a certain way, and they react. You find their résumé and approach them, and they judge you by your image and your behavior. Your interview process is a series of interactions with different parts of your organization. Both candidate and employer set expectations throughout this process that will be critical in making a good hire and later in holding onto the best talent. The Acquire stage also includes the honeymoon period right after an employee starts working, in which expectations will be tested against reality. In terms of consumer branding, this is the purchase of a product and its aftermath: Does the product perform as advertised? Is the customer so satisfied that he would recommend the product?

3. Advance.

Keep critical talent moving, not necessarily up, but growing in experience, responsibility, money, or other tangible and intangible ways. Advancing talent in your organization is a key to retaining good people and vital to your company’s ability to change as opportunity or necessity require. Retention is the “hold” part of hire and hold; in consumer branding terms, it’s the equivalent of customers becoming loyal to a brand and identifying with the brand’s attributes.

The Engagement Cycle is the long-term flow of activities that attract, acquire, and advance talent, and it is the interplay of the full cycle, both the employer’s three activities and the candidate’s responses that creates a strong relationship. The graphic above shows the parallel activities from the employer and candidate points of view.