How to Retain Your Nonprofit Employees

Executives often say that having the right employee or team is critical to achieving an organization’s mission. But many of them, particularly within the nonprofit sector, struggle with high turn over levels and end up spending more resources in recruiting and training new employees, making it more challenging to build a sustainable organization. So how can nonprofit executives retain their best employees? Here are three tips:

1. Offer Competitive Salaries

One of the most common reasons why nonprofit employees leave their jobs is directly linked to how much they get paid. Many organizations are unable to attract young and fresh talent because of how poorly their wages compare to other sectors and end up hiring people who are less qualified. Having a realistic idea of living expenses and knowing what comparable organizations offer their own employees will help you set salaries and wages at a scale that will attract and retain top talent. Offering competitive stipends for volunteers should also be considered. Two great resources for benchmarking nonprofit salaries in Africa are JobMag in Nigeria and NGOPulse in South Africa.

2. Develop an Internal Career Development Strategy

Career development is becoming a major concern for new talent entering the nonprofit workforce. People want to know what training will be provided or how many years it will take them to move from junior to senior positions. If it will take 10 years to advance to a higher level or position, then your nonprofit is unlikely to attract top talent. Creating a strategy that maps out job roles, training opportunities, and internal advancement helps demonstrate a clear career path for existing and prospective employees. The Society for Human Resource Management provides a useful guide on how to do this.

3. Create a Flexible Work Environment

In their efforts to mimic business-style operations, some nonprofits have created rigid practices and systems that don’t suit the ethos of the social sector. Today, nonprofit workers speak about feeling burnt out because there is more emphasis on clocking in and out or putting in hours at the weekend than on actual impact and results produced. Nonprofits have a unique opportunity and responsibility to improve work-life balance for their employees. Through technology, employees can dial into meetings from home, conduct presentations from project sites, or complete reports in the evenings rather than staying late and missing out on time with their families. A flexible work environment demonstrates trust in your employee’s abilities to get the work done.


Have other tips? Send us an email.

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