High employee turnover continues to plague companies—especially those that include frontline workers, and learning how to retain employees has become a business imperative.  While compensation certainly factors into low employee retention, departing employees cite other causes. Below, we summarize them, but, first, let us tell you about an innovative solution: supported work groups of employees with disabilities.

What is a Supported Work Group?

For hundreds of companies, the supported work group model answers the question of how to retain employees—but what, exactly is it? A typical work group is comprised of three employees with disabilities who have the desire and ability to work. Each group is supported onsite by a trained, dedicated employment coach supplied by the work group provider. The group is placed with employers whose jobs match the employees’ interests and skills.

The work group provider serves as the employer of record, taking on the recruiting, hiring, training, payroll, supervision, and quality control work—eliminating management overhead for the partner business. Supported work groups can be tailored for specific roles, offering flexible, scalable solutions while the pre-employment preparation process and on-the-job support ensure a workforce that’s both skilled and safe. What’s more, supported work groups directly solve many of the issues that lead to high turnover.

Causes of Employee Turnover and Work Group Solutions

Lack of a Sense of Belonging

When considering how to retain employees, first consider this: Belonging is the most basic of all human needs and is as important at work as anywhere else. A study by BetterUp and Harvard Business Review found that employees who feel they don’t belong have a 50 percent higher turnover risk than those who feel they do.

  • Solution: Lack of belonging is a fixable problem—one that’s built into the supported work group model. Because each work group is comprised of three eager employees with disabilities and one coach, a sense of community is established from the start. In some cases, transportation to and from work is included in the program, and the shared commute further increases comradery. Work group employees report looking forward to working each day.

Lack of Engagement

When belonging goes missing, so does engagement. A study by Qualtrics found that employees who don’t experience a sense of belonging are three and a half times less likely to engage—leading to a vicious cycle. Unengaged employees put in less effort, refuse extra responsibilities, cease to grow, withdraw from coworkers, and, ultimately, leave.

  • Solution: The work group is a team, and each day team members engage directly with each other and with their coach. The sense of belonging is inherent to the supported work group and fosters engagement. As a result, the disengage-withdraw-depart cycle is nipped in the bud.

Poor Communication

According to marketing research firm GITNUX’s 2024 Marketdata Report, inconsistent communication in the workplace increases employee turnover by 50 percent. It makes sense. Without consistent, effective communication, confusion reigns.

  • Solution: Key to the work group model are the skilled employment coaches who are trained to facilitate ongoing communication—not only among work group employees, but also with management. Employment coaches also help to prioritize and reprioritize employee’s tasks, tailoring them to an organization’s shifting needs.
paper with three boxes indicating level of satisfaction.

Lack of Goals and Purpose

Without goals, employees feel adrift. Without purpose, they feel like what they do doesn’t matter. Employees who are distanced from the big picture—including a company’s purpose, mission, and goals— lose enthusiasm and commitment. In fact, research by Great Place to Work found a lack of purpose to be one of three predictors for employee turnover, “regardless of generation or job type.” Similarly, employees without goals don’t know where to direct their efforts and are more likely to leave.

  • Solution: Purpose and goals are also critical components of supported work groups. From the employees to the coaches to the companies where work groups shine, everyone involved understands their goals and responsibilities. Goal setting starts pre-hiring, when employees with disabilities are matched with job opportunities aligned with their employment goals. Employment coaches work to help each work group member achieve their objectives on the job. Coaches also work with managers and co-workers to keep everyone aligned. Frequent check-ins mean that the employee receives regular feedback each step of the way.

Lack of Recognition

A survey by Indeed found that, for 30 percent of people who left a job within the first six months, recognition for their contributions could have made the difference—encouraging them to stay. Similarly, Gallup found that employee recognition results in employees who are 56 percent less likely to begin looking for a new job.

  • Solution: Employee recognition is integral to the work group model. Whether it’s quarterly attendance awards, luncheons for a job well done, or a shout-out in the company newsletter, work group leaders regularly celebrate the successes of the employees they train and work with.

Poor Training for Employees

Research shows that 40 percent of employees who don’t receive proper job training will leave their positions within the first year. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 94 percent of employees said they’d stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn—another important metric to consider when discerning how to retain employees.

  • Solution: As employment coaches are constantly present, training is never a one-and-done proposition with supported work groups. Coaches are prepared to help employees learn new skills as needed, and coaches have the know-how and flexibility to tailor training to each individual’s learning style.

Unclear Performance Expectations/Lack of Manager Feedback

Jim Harter, Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well Being at Gallup, said, “the most fundamental engagement element is knowing what’s expected of you.” Gallup’s meta-analysis discovered robust correlations between clarity of expectations and organizational results, including employee retention.

  • Solution: Work group leaders provide documented performance expectations for the employees they work with, from pre-employment to on-the-job in real time, as well as feedback about performance. Moreover, the presence of employment coaches allows for expectations to be easily tailored and scalable in accord with a business’s needs.

How to Retain Employees: A Business Imperative

In today’s high-turnover climate, a good employee retention strategy will include innovation. This means that employers will need to consider previously underutilized talent pools and workforce structures. To be competitive, savvy organizations must invest in creating and fostering an inclusive work environment where employees feel seen, valued, and empowered.

Let Us Help You Reduce Employee Turnover

Turnover in frontline roles like retail, hospitality, manufacturing, and facilities maintenance is an ongoing challenge. Let us introduce you to a workforce that wants the jobs you sometimes find difficult to fill and retain. PRIDE Industries has decades of experience working with hundreds of businesses to provide turnkey, scalable staffing solutions. We make it easy to offer life-changing employment to individuals looking for long-term opportunities. Join us.
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