Every single nonprofit organization strives to be a great place to work at. Unfortunately, many organizations seem to struggle with achieving that goal.
Third Sector Today recently published a list of best practices and insights from various thought-leaders on how nonprofits “can become a place that people flock to and take pride in,” as well as how to overcome a “culture of martyrdom.”
Anyone who has been part of the nonprofit sector for more than even a few years has seen this “culture of martyrdom” firsthand. As we try to help organizations with technology, this often manifests during conversations in the form of being extremely budget-conscious rather than future-success conscious.
However, I fervently believe being a nonprofit can be a distinct advantage when recruiting and retaining top talent. You need to look no further than organizations like Teach For America to see great talent being attracted to a mission rather than a large salary. In fact, in the case of Teach For America, a much higher than expected number of individuals involved stay on past their two year commitment.
Retaining the best talent is a result of providing a superb place to work. Here are my suggestions for helping any nonprofit make that goal a reality.
1. Ditch merit/seniority perks
Nothing drives a wedge between the team members more than seeing such elitism in action. A team must pull together as equals to be successful.
2. Establish guiding principles
The guiding principle should be few in number and ones the entire team believes in. Allow the guiding principles to drive daily actions rather than stringent rules or procedures documented somewhere nobody ever looks at.
3. Create a good employee orientation
It does not have to fancy week-long affair, but enough time so they fully understand the mission and guiding principles fully, as well as what each department is doing. This one should be easy for NPOs because it can be a version of their board member orientation.
4. Share information freely and often
There is no such thing as too much transparency. I am a huge believer of at least a monthly gathering of the entire team to provide an update on what each area is doing, as well reviewing key objectives and mission achievement.
5. Celebrate any and all successes
Just like information sharing it is almost impossible to give too much praise for your team and their efforts. Also, sharing examples of your mission in action is so vital. That is why many of your team joined to begin with!
6. Flexible work schedules
Today’s worker is so dedicated they do not have to monitored if they are motivated. They are also balancing so many parts of their busy lives. The rewards are there for everyone when such trust is allowed.
7. Bring your mission into all areas
Your mission is your best talent recruiting and retention asset. The best nonprofits to work for make sure everyone has a chance to be part of the mission each week. This is not always easy to do, but can be quite rewarding for everyone.
8. Have FUN!
Nobody wants to do anything daily that does not have some fun associated with it. Form a “Fun” or “Culture” Committee with a least one person from each of your departments to suggest ideas and themes for adding fun and spirit to your environment. Even something as simple as crazy sweatshirt day or ice cream cones in the mid-afternoon can make a huge difference.
Implementing any or all of the ideas above can and will make an impact. Who knows? You just might create the best nonprofit to work for in your city or better yet your region of your country.
Please share in the comment area below any other suggestions you have seen work!