Employee Retention: A Case Study of Whirlpool Corporation

Learning how to retain employees is a top concern for today’s CEOs and HR professionals… and for good reason. It’s something that keeps good leaders up at night:

Are my employees happy?

Will my top performers stay?

What more could I be doing to keep them?

Employee retention is critical to the long-term health and success of your business and is a big issue in many organizations. Take Whirlpool Corporation for instance, the company had a huge retention problem as they were losing existing talent just as fast as they were hiring new ones. Clearly something needed to be done to engage and retain talent.

Let’s take a look at how Whirlpool Corporation handled the situation.


Whirlpool Corporation is an American multinational manufacturer and marketer of home appliances.

The Challenge:

Whirlpool had an employee retention problem. While they had made efforts to attract and hire new talent, they were losing existing talent at the same, if not a faster, rate.


What the Organization did:

To address this issue, Whirlpool developed a retention risk assessment toolkit to assess the impact on the company if an employee should leave. The toolkit was to help Whirlpool assess the impact the company would face should an employee leave as well as help the company understand the likelihood that an employee will leave and create action plans to prevent this regrettable loss.


Managers were asked to answer each of the following yes or no questions:

  • If this employee left Whirlpool, in the current business environment would we sustain a significant revenue loss or increased risk?
  • If this employee left Whirlpool, would we lose significant intellectual capital?
  • Is this employee in a critical role or on a Succession Plan for a critical role?
  • Is there a weak or non-existent contingency plan for if this role were vacant?
  • Would this role be difficult to fill both internally and externally?


The risk retention assessment included 25 yes or no questions managers were asked to answer about their employees and their relationship to those employees.

Whirlpool quickly discovered that many managers had difficulty answering a significant number of questions about their employees. Understanding the importance of the manager/employee relationship to retaining talent, Whirlpool created a template for stay interviews as a way to help managers answer those questions, and to create dialogue between managers and employees.


After the first round of interviews was completed, both managers and employees were given a survey about the process. The two major findings from that survey were:

  •       Managers assessed their relationship with their employees as being stronger than the employees’ assessment.
  •       There were some engagement factors that were specifically called out by employees as important to them that were missed by managers. They were: feeling valued, meaningful work, recognition, reward and working with great people.


The result

As time goes by, Whirlpool is seeing that communication between employees and managers that are involved in the pilot is getting better and employees are saying that these conversations are getting easier to have. Through building stronger relationships with their managers, these employees have also commented that opportunities for professional growth have been presented to them that may not have been in the past.


Things to note

The first rounds of stay interviews were awkward conversations for many of the managers and employees. For example, there were several instances in which a manager thought he or she knew an employee well, but really didn’t. It is important to understand the current relationship between a manager and their employees before moving forward with the process. It is not going to be a productive process if the relationship is severely broken.


Written by Genevieve Craig