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Boosting DSP Morale Through The Employee Retention Committee (ERC)

Submitted By: Renee Seigley, The Arc Southern Maryland

In an effort to improve the retention of our staff – specifically targeted at direct support professionals (DSPs) – The Arc Southern Maryland’s human resources department formed an Employee Retention Committee (ERC). The 8-person committee was selected by the human resources department and our CEO from different areas across the organization. The overarching goal of the ERC is to boost the morale of our workforce by demonstrating support in engaging ways.

The ERC kicked off with a survey of our DSP workforce, then monthly meetings began and quarterly initiatives were planned. Some of the highlights include our leadership team washing the vehicles of our staff in each of our locations, a march madness celebration, and a drive-through where boxed lunches were provided to staff during COVID-19 pandemic.

Impact Of The Program

The addition of the ERC program has allowed our workforce to see that they are valued. The ERC is the Arc’s answer to really showing up for our employees and demonstrating that we will “walk the walk” to make sure every team member understands the value of their daily impact on the lives of the individuals whom we serve.

“I enjoyed the car wash and the boxed lunch events put on by the ERC. It was nice and convenient to just drive thru. The people we support were also able to get out of the house and we all really enjoyed seeing everyone.”

Heather, Direct Support Professional

In the months leading up to the pandemic our retention rate increased by almost 4% which we do attribute to the efforts of the ERC.

Steps To Implement A Similar DSP Program

By following the steps listed below, other organizations can create their own Employee Retention Committee (ERC) to show their appreciation for the essential DSP workforce:

  1. Distribute a survey to DSPs to learn more about ways to boost morale
  2. Set up meetings with key stakeholders to discuss possible next steps
  3. Create a dedicated Employee Retention Committee (ERC) to manage and monitor the program
  4. Establish a budget for the ERC and ensure the sustainability of committee members
  5. Develop an action plan for acknowledging contributions of DSPs and demonstrating appreciation for their work
  6. Identify specific goals for each initiative and assess effectiveness of the program
  7. Anticipate potential pushback from employees on specific ERC initiatives, yet work to build interest and investment over time

About The Arc Southern Maryland

Founded in 1975, The Arc Southern Maryland is a private 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, affiliated at the state level with The Arc Maryland and at the national level with The Arc of the United States, the world’s largest grass roots organization of, and for, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The Arc Southern Maryland is the leading advocate for children and adults with IDD living and working in Southern Maryland. The Arc provides an array of services including housing, job placement, and behavioral support services. Our mission is to create opportunities for independence and personal success for people with different abilities in inclusive communities.

2021 National DSP Recognition Week

For 2021 National DSP Recognition Week, CQL and NADSP are sharing specific organization-wide initiatives that lift up and bolster direct support professionals (DSPs) throughout the entire year. These include significant, long-lasting, and meaningful actions that have far-reaching effects on DSPs. By sharing these initiatives, other human service providers can both learn about and replicate these efforts to build up the DSP workforce. This is also an opportunity to highlight the programs your organization has developed to strengthen DSPs.

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Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.