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How to Attract and Retain Great Nonprofit Talent

Nonprofits must be creative in efforts to keep employees engaged and satisfied.

By University Alliance
How to Attract and Retain Great Nonprofit Talent

Nonprofit organizations provide valuable services, often championing issues and causes that directly impact the lives of many.  

While their funds are restricted and carefully allocated to meet specific program guidelines, it can often be challenging to attract and retain skilled workers.

In order to attract the right employees, nonprofits need to seek out people who are invested in the agency’s particular cause or social platform. According to the website NonProfit, the organization also must be upfront during the recruitment phase about issues such as salary limitations, while offering reasons why the organization is the right fit for the potential recruit.

Nonprofits need to invest in alternative recruitment efforts such as social media to find qualified candidates who share the organization’s values and want to work for an employer more concerned with making a difference than making as much money as possible. Digital recruitment through social media, email or a landing page can offer a lower-cost alternative to traditional recruitment practices, and often can reach a wider audience.

In lieu of larger salaries, nonprofits should promote both their total compensation package and their organizational culture as desirable reasons why someone would choose them over a larger for-profit corporation.

Many potential employees today, particularly those who fall in the millennial age group, between 22 and 33 years old, don’t share the same sense of loyalty to an employer that their parents or grandparents once did. According to a survey released in 2014 by Accountemps, a Robert Half Company, 48 percent of millennials acknowledged they are likely to conduct job-search activities at work.

Losing those employees can undermine both the work environment and the organization’s bottom line. Other workers might see their peers leaving for better opportunities, thereby planting a seed in their minds to start a job search. Also, the organization risks losing the money and time it invested to recruit and train the employee, as well as the work output he or she leaves behind.

To bolster retention and foster a work environment that keeps employees motivated and satisfied, nonprofits should consider providing benefits in addition to the usual salary, health insurance and retirement packages.

Many nonprofits allow employees to work from home. Some provide amenities inside the office — such as on-site childcare, low-cost health clinics, affordable meal options, and free or reduced-price exercise classes — that satisfy real life needs and obligations.

Nonprofits know how to drum up support. It’s what they do. Soliciting funds and resources from outside providers through fundraisers and partnerships can allow amenities to be implemented at a reduced cost to the agency and a substantial benefit to its employees.

Those types of measures can directly impact an individual’s commitment to remain with an employer, even at a reduced salary and with increased job expectations.

Nonprofits also can eliminate concerns about turnover by focusing on the abilities of its current employees, and instituting policies and practices for additional training, increased job responsibility and advancement. These steps allow workers to improve existing skills, or learn new ones, and motivate them to aspire to a better position with the organization.

Managers can help in this effort by getting to know individual workers and providing acknowledgement and constructive feedback, when necessary, to help them improve their performance.

Nonprofits might have to work harder to attract and retain talented employees, but they also can create an office environment that would make even a major corporation jealous by embracing new methods for keeping their workforce engaged.

Discover how to successfully attract, develop and retain nonprofit talent by earning an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Human Resource Management 100% online from the University of Notre Dame.

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Category: Nonprofit Leadership