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ADP’s Spotlight on Engagement & Retention


At ADP’s annual Meeting of the Minds client event this past week, what caught my attention most were the initiatives geared towards improving employee engagement/satisfaction and retention. Clearly, ADP has identified these areas as key, with its own research institute finding that ~2/3 of all turnover is voluntary – i.e. employees are leaving because they have not been given a reason to stay. Here I look at some of ADP’s engagement and retention initiatives currently in play.

Improving the user experience in benefits administration

ADP manages benefits for 15 million employees – that’s 1 in 8 employees where employer benefits are provided. Not only is providing employee benefits important for the attraction of talent, but also in providing a positive employee experience and for retention of talent.

NelsonHall’s most recent Next Generation Benefits Administration market analysis report reveals that one of the top client drivers for outsourcing benefits is improving overall support around the employee/participant experience, including increasing employee participation via self-service and improving communications. A critical success factor here is incorporating convenience features into the user experience to reduce user frustration. Vendors need to add convenience features for participants, such as the following features offered by ADP Benefits Administration:

  • Ability to receive continuous client feedback, including from annual enrollment
  • Of ADP’s 160 Participant Service Center (PSC) annual enrollment clients, 91.5% of callers receive an answer to their inquiry in less than 45 seconds from the point at which they elect to speak to an agent. This has resulted in 95.9% customer satisfaction
  • Option to receive a scheduled call-back
  • Saturday call center hours
  • Spanish call center (the center in Guadalajara, Mexico is also a top performing center)
  • 24/7 email query capability and 24/7 live chat (live chat to be fully implemented by end of year)
  • Concierge service option, with a dedicated support team
  • Where clients use more than one of ADP's services, client executives are assigned to own the entire relationship across all services. The client executives add value in many ways, including hosting internal calls to discuss how to best facilitate client delivery across all services.

Addressing employee retention: client case

Employee attrition has been increasing. Per the bureau of labor statistics, median employee tenure was 4.2 years in January 2016, down from 4.6 two years earlier. An example of an ADP client facing a significant challenge with retention was Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI), who had a turnover rate of 36% for several entry-level positions, with 41% of staff terminating within the first year of hire. Key initiatives deployed to address the situation were:

  • Focus groups with employees who have stayed longer than a year to talk about why they remained. Output from this was then added to the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) on the employee portal
  • A custom 3-day classroom training course for all frontline managers on how to better engage employees
  • Monthly program for new managers to come together and learn strategies and techniques from one another
  • A better and faster onboarding experience, ensuring new employees are fully connected to all company resources and communications on day one
  • Based on employee feedback, introducing events like holiday parties and picnics for associates and their families.

Results of these initiatives included:

  • Reducing new hire time by 45%, from 51 days to 28
  • Increasing exit interview participation by 20%
  • Reducing turnover in 2017 by ~42%.


Success in initially attracting talent is not much of an achievement if an organization fails to retain that talent. Hence, initiatives for providing an enhanced employee experience, such as the ones implemented by ADP, are essential to avoid unwanted attrition.

However, it’s also essential to analyze and measure the effectiveness of those initiatives. NelsonHall’s most recent interviews with the clients of benefits administration vendors reveal that use of analytics for process improvement and employee insight was one of the highest rated vendor attributes sought, with a future importance score of 90%. And yet client satisfaction in this area, across all vendor clients interviewed, was just 62%, which should provide food for thought for HR services vendors.

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