Do you measure employee engagement? Or do you measure the full employee lifecycle experience? You may ask what’s the difference.

Put simply, the difference is measuring the middle versus measuring from end to end. But in business terms, the difference is about viewing a snapshot in time versus being able to understand and act upon an accurate entire picture of every employee journey.

That’s because every stage of an employee’s lifecycle with your organisation has a direct relationship with your approach to employee engagement – and the success of your business as a whole.

From attraction, to the recruitment and onboarding process, throughout their tenure and development with you, and then at the point of exit and even beyond, the employee’s experience can be correlated to your broader business strategy.

Why, then, do most organisations only measure ‘the middle’? Generally, it’s because the employee experience is only seen as relevant to the business when the employee is fully embedded. How are they performing in their day-to-day role? What HR policies and procedures are working today and what could we change in the year ahead? What are the main causes of employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction?

What this approach misses is the interdependence of every stage of the employee lifecycle.

How well someone feels they have been brought into the organisation or shown a clear development path can have a measurable effect on how engaged they feel as they move through the business, and how likely they are to stay or leave. Likewise, understanding why someone leaves and viewing this in the context of their engagement up to that point can deliver key business insight that can’t be gained from engagement data alone.

Standard performance data is retrospective and simply can’t deliver the depth of insight needed to correlate engagement against wider business action. Lifecycle measurement data, on the other hand, is based on people themselves and is predictive, building up intelligence about each individual and their relationship with your organisation at each and every stage.

This delivers clear, accurate and quantitative insight showing how, for example, certain business behaviours drive attrition, or how sharing individual success can boost morale across teams and departments.

More than this, though, gathering holistic data about the employee lifecycle allows you to relate every aspect of engagement to key business performance indicators that go beyond the employee – for example customer retention and service, financial performance and even overall business strategy.

This allows you to map out the employee experience you want to deliver to align with the strategic goals of your organisation, and to directly correlate changes and improvements to changing KPI scores.

Think of it like the development process of a new supercar. You wouldn’t design a highly-efficient, high-performance engine without ensuring every other component of the vehicle was able to withstand the forces and pressures they were going to be subjected to over the long term. If you did, things would soon start to break down or fall off – or worse still, cause major injury.

In a similar way, pre-employment experiences, along with the early days of employment, have a huge impact on the rate at which employees reach full speed. They also impact their performance and longevity with the organisation.

At the moment, however, virtually no organisation has any empirical data to show how these early behaviours and processes impact critical business deliverables.

If we all know that the first experiences as a customer are critical to long term loyalty and advocacy, why do we feel that we don’t need any evidence to measure this early engagement? And why don’t we make more effort to understand the critical effects of their engagement on the business before they even join, or long after they’ve left?