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In our employee success program overview, we outlined why employee supports are a critical component of an effective social enterprise. Building an effective employee supports program for your social enterprise is an essential component of delivering the supports and services that help workers secure, succeed, and advance in employment and get on the pathway to self-sufficiency.

Designing an employee supports program is a multi-phase process, the first steps of which we covered in our deep dive on defining your goals and configuring support offerings. In this deep dive, we cover the third step of the process: designing the program structure and policies.

When designing an employee supports program you will want to ensure that the structure and policies align with and support key goals and strategies. In this learning guide we cover core aspects for both the structure and policies, as well as broader factors that influence program design.

Employee Supports Structure

First, you will want to think about the specific structural components that support and comprise the delivery of your employee supports program. These components should align with and support the key goals and strategies for your employee supports program. REDF has identified six core areas to consider:

Metrics to TrackDELIVERY METHOD Budget Participation Model Staffing Reporting
Desired goals and outcomes
Data on SE employees hired/exited
Employee supports
Employee privacy

Employee Supports Policies

Next, you will want to think about specific policies to implement to support your employee supports program. As with the program structure attributes above, these should align with and support the key goals and strategies for your employee supports program. REDF has identified six core areas to consider:

Employment StatusCompensation Discipline information sharing Hiring & Advancement Retention
Full or part time
Transitional or permanent
Wage level
Paid benefits
Paid activities
Limited vs. full
Hiring priorities
Job tiers

Factors Influencing Program Design

In order to develop your employee supports program structure and policies, you must first consider all of the different factors influencing program design. Your program structure and policies should align with key attributes of the target population, the social enterprise, and the organization.

While many of these factors may influence each other, you will want to think through how each factor separately influences the design of your employee supports program’s structure and policies.

As you can see from the illustration above, a factor that is neither strictly related to the organization or the social enterprise, but rather is central to both is the target population served. These are the individuals whom your social enterprise seeks to employ.

On the enterprise side, there are a number of distinct factors that influence program design. These include aspects such as the industry in which the social enterprise operates, the work environment, and the location of the social enterprise employment. It also includes specific components of the nature of the work, such as the job type and the skills or credentials required.

There are also organizational attributes to consider. These include factors such as financial resources, the type, amount, and flexibility of funding available for employee supports; the level of internal capacity, in-house availability and knowledge of client/employee services and amount of infrastructure for employee supports to draw upon .Accessibility of partners refers to the distance from and ease of accessing employee support services on site and at other service providersEmployee supports focus and orientation refers to the philosophical underpinnings of your social enterprise or parent nonprofit agency. And finally, the legal and organizational structure refers to your social enterprise’s nonprofit or for-profit status, and degree of independence from the founding nonprofit, if applicable.

Next Steps

The final step in designing an employee supports program is to summarize your organization’s vision in an Employee Supports Program Plan.