Forum aims to help businesses seeking to boost employee retention

People lined up Wednesday, Dec. 31, to apply for emergency heat assistance outside of the SELF (Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families) headquarters in Hamilton.
People lined up Wednesday, Dec. 31, to apply for emergency heat assistance outside of the SELF (Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families) headquarters in Hamilton.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Local companies looking to tackle employee retention issues will soon have a way to do so.

Employer resource networks, or ERNs, support and coach employees at their job site, help to address life issues and job performance and work to improve employee attendance and retention.

“An ERN is a demand-driven partnership that pulls together business leaders to discuss workforce needs such as employee retention, skills-building, and advancement,” according to Jeffrey Diver, executive director for SELF.

MORE: Census Bureau hiring for positions that pay up to $20 an hour in Butler County

The administrator — SELF — brings together five to 10 employers — the network — to resolve their workforce issues, Diver said. SELF and network employers hire a success coach, who will work on-site with employees to address job performance, attendance, connect employees to community resources and more, he said.

Butler County’s ERN will be tied in with Ohio ERN, which was formed in 2016 and is part of ERN USA.

ERN USA provides technical assistance, help with ERN start-ups, customized metrics and a data platform, and peer learning opportunities. It has 27 area networks and 11 lead organizations in 9 states, with its longest-established networks in Michigan, New York, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana.

Diver will be part of a roundtable discussion on ERNs from 8 to 9 a.m. March 4 at Fairfield Community Arts Center, providing an overview of ERN programs and gathering input on creating a program that could assist area businesses.

MORE: 12 new small businesses that opened in Butler County in 2019

Offered by the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, the free event is open to everyone. RSVPs are due by March 2 to president@fairfieldchamber.com or 513-881-5500. Annette Landesman, SELF’s special programs manager, can be reached at 513-203-7688.

We spoke to Diver about ERNs ahead of next week’s event. Here’s what he had to say.

Q: Why is it beneficial for businesses to form or partner with an ERN?

A: “Lower turnover and decreased absenteeism lead to employee advancement and stability and a stronger bottom-line for the employer and a more stable community. The ERN provides an on-site Success Coach to be job shared across employers in the network. The coach assists with broad variety of issues that may affect employees being at work and productive at work: workforce soft-skills enhancement; interpersonal issues across coworkers, financial coaching or fin literacy as well as assistance with barriers to getting to work such as lack of childcare, reliable transportation or help finding senior care for a loved one.”

MORE: 2010 to 2020: How Butler County has changed in the past decade

Q: What are some challenges a businesse might face when creating an ERN?

A: “I think the biggest challenge is for businesses to look beyond their traditional approaches of retaining employees to a new, proven approach to increasing employee retention and reducing turnover. Other challenges are generally around getting employers around the table to finalize their needs. Individual employers in the ERN sometimes struggle with arranging times for the coach to hold ‘getting acquainted’ meetings across all shifts at the employer site.”

Q: Are there any misconceptions regarding the benefits of being part of an ERN?

A: “A big misconception is that an ERN is a social service program dependent upon grants for its survival; an ERN is sustained through the investment of the participating businesses and is a hardnosed effort for helping employees stay at their jobs by helping them overcome barriers to their success. Another misconception we have heard is that the service is only available to entry-level employees, but in fact the success coach works across all employee levels including C-level and mid-managers.”