News HR Roundtable tackles retention ideas, challenges

The Providers’ Council recently hosted members from nearly 20 organization for an HR Roundtable on employee retention. It was held at Vinfen in Somerville.

Panelists Jennifer Kropveld-Boucher and Robin Gilbert, both from The Home for Little Wanderers, and Theresa Young from Tempus Unlimited led an engaging discussion that covered issues ranging from offering incentives to training managers and supervisors to wellness during the two-hour, members-only event.

“Retention starts at recruitment,” said Robin Gilbert, The Home for Little Wanderers. “A well-organized and thoughtful onboarding process can make (new hires) comfortable with their role in the organization.”

The Home has found success with buddy/mentor programs (pairing a new employee with an experienced employee who is not a supervisor) and regular check-ins with new staff to ensure good communication, identify challenges and reinforce the resources available, as well as with outreach from supervisors to new employees before their first day of work.

Several members said that some exit interviews and other information has shown that a bad experience with a manager has led to employees leaving, causing them to look at how managers/supervisors are trained.  And many of the participants said that their organizations are putting more emphasis on manager/supervisor training.

“Whether you have 20 years of experience or 20 weeks, we want to make sure everyone has the same baseline knowledge,” said Kropveld-Boucher of The Home, which is developing a two-day supervisor training.

Bay Cove Human Services, which has recently had a major program shift that nearly doubled the amount of staff, has also had trainings for all managers. “It was very valuable,” said Lauren Riordan. “It was like hitting a reset button. Everyone was starting from scratch.”

Delta Projects has developed a managers’ training manual and requires eight or nine hours of training over several months, said Julie Groom. “It was a lot of work to put it together, but now we’re able to do it quarterly for new managers,” she said.

The Providers’ Council regularly offers free, members-only HR Roundtable events on topics of interest to human services organizations, such as recruitment and retention, employee benefits, compliance and more. Roundtables are announced through our bi-monthly ALEX newsletter and in the Upcoming Training and Events section of

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