Funneling Talent: Reimagining The B2B Model For Employees

Adapting the marketing funnel for the employee lifecycle.

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May 23, 2024

If you work in marketing or with marketers, you’ve heard the terms “top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.” People at one former company insisted on calling them TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU. Acronyms aside, the marketing funnel is a simplified representation of the basic stages of purchase.


As HR and Talent Acquisition professionals, we can learn from our marketing colleagues and adapt their B2B funnel to the employee funnel. While the employee lifecycle is more nuanced, the employee funnel focuses on the stages of onboarding, growth, and transitioning to new roles. Let’s take a closer look at each stage in the employee funnel, starting with onboarding.


Okay, be honest. Have you ever had an amazing onboarding experience? If so, you’re in the minority! According to Forbes, 81% of employees felt overwhelmed during onboarding. BambooHR found that 31% of employees quit their jobs within the first six months. We all know that attracting talent is more expensive than retaining it. However, those with a great onboarding experience were more likely to feel positive about the company and their connection to it.

Here’s something else to consider: with the rise of video and the increasing need for business acumen and AI skills, numerous opportunities exist to create more effective and memorable onboarding experiences. A practical, clear onboarding process sets the stage for an employee’s time at your company and is no longer just a nice-to-have; it’s essential.


HR and TA can make a huge impact in the growth stage by partnering with teams like Learning & Development and Internal Communications. You’ll always be onboarding and offboarding employees, but growth is a crucial stage where the primary focus should be in the employee funnel.

Communication is key in the growth phase, and here are two effective methods to ensure employees move along the funnel from onboarding to growth stages.

Involve other departments

The partnership with L&D includes programs: do you have mentorship, Employee Resource Groups, coffee chats, cross-training opportunities, upskilling, tuition reimbursement, free LinkedIn Learning courses, leadership programs, etc.? Making these growth opportunities available to all employees is critical as workforces evolve due to generational demands, AI, and more, and we all try to keep up.

Once you implement some of the programs I previously mentioned, you need to collaborate with Internal Communications to share them! I have worked at two large global companies with formal mentorship programs that most people didn’t know about, which was a big surprise to me and a huge miss. Program creation is necessary to retain top employees, but communicating the details (such as eligibility, requirements, timing, etc.) is critical to those programs benefiting anyone. Ensure each opportunity is communicated so employees can access details if they’re interested; furthermore, include them in onboarding, engagement surveys, milestone career anniversaries, communications to leadership, etc.

Challenge managers to foster growth

Another key opportunity here is in communication with managers. Individual growth is the responsibility of each employee, but adding some responsibility for managers is fair game. It’s part of their job, so why not treat this part as such by adding team growth to their KPIs? EX: How did their team grow last quarter/year: did individuals take on new work, did they do a stretch assignment or temporarily step in to cover for someone on leave, did they gain new certifications or skills, etc.? Adding individual growth to manager goals is one way to encourage a focus on this area and reinforce information sharing. There’s probably a way to incorporate a gamification component in there, too.

New Role

Lastly, let’s look at our reimagined employee funnel and the “new role” stage. HR and recruiters don’t want to be the ones sending out emails that their top performers are leaving. So HR and TA must consider the offboarding replacement process in the employee lifecycle. To put it simply, if my organization has great employees, I want to retain, and I assume you agree with this; however, this isn’t always a bad thing. Let me explain.

The beauty of turnover is that it works for employees who currently are not a good fit due to mishiring, or there’s a desire for a career change, AND for employees who’ve grown out of their role. Thus, an employee leaving the team isn’t a bad thing because it reduces talent hoarding, but is it important to help with succession planning, and improve management skills by measuring growth and internal moves. I’ll explain how this is a win-win for everyone.

Example 1: If John has taken on more work over the last year and consistently shown an interest in management, consider a role for him leading 1-2 people. If that opportunity doesn’t exist or there’s no headcount yet, have him do a 6-month pilot as “team lead.” As TA and HR practitioner, you can see the importance of retaining top performers to foster growth for new roles.

Example 2: If Sarah has done an amazing job with her internal stakeholders and always meets her goals but has become increasingly interested in a different department, don’t hold her back. Don’t keep her chained to that role. Create the opportunity to help her identify a stretch assignment or network internally to be positioned to make internal mobility attainable eventually.

In Conclusion

We do so much work to attract and onboard the right talent; it’s only right that we prioritize employees once they’re part of the team. Growth isn’t one-size-fits-all. While the employee funnel is linear and simplistic, growth involves creating new career paths, communicating effectively, and engaging key stakeholders.

Conversion is a critical metric for marketing professionals. Similarly, when employees consider new internal roles, conversion should be a success metric. Creating internal mobility and measuring the number of employees moving into new roles is the ultimate goal for HR and TA as they work to upskill employees and maintain a productive, engaged workforce.

We move employees “down the funnel” to their next internal opportunity by applying the consumer-focused funnel to the employee lifecycle. And even if what’s next is external, taking an intentional approach to growth will more often than not help retain valuable talent.

Get comfortable reimagining models for different use cases—your next innovation might be your next move.


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