Finding the right talent is a challenge for nonprofits both big and small. But once you have the right people on board, how do you keep them engaged and in place?

Ritu Sharma of Social Media for Nonprofits and Jacqueline Breslin of TriNet recently joined us for a webinar in which they shared some practical tips and tools for retaining nonprofit talent.

In case you missed it, you can watch the full replay here:

Full Transcript:

Steven: Well, Jackie and Ritu, my watch says one o’clock. Do you want to go ahead and get started?

Ritu: Yes. Thank you.

Jackie: Sounds great.

Steven: All right. So cool let’s do it. Well, good afternoon everyone if you’re on the East Coast and good morning if you’re on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s webinar: Six Top Tips for Retaining Nonprofit Talent.

My name is Steven Shattuck. I’m the VP of marketing here at Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion. Just before we begin, I want to let everyone know that we are recording this presentation and I’ll be sending out the recording and the slides later on this afternoon. So if you want to review the content or maybe share it with someone else in your office or friends and family members, you’ll be able to do that. Just look for an email from me a little later on after the presentation.

You may have noticed the little chat box there on your webinar screen. Please feel free to utilize that throughout the presentation if you have a question for either of our presenters. Do send those in. We’re going to save a little bit of time at the end for a more formal interactive Q and A session, so don’t be shy at all. We’ve got two experts here who will answer just as many questions as we can before the two o’clock Eastern hour. So do use that.

And just in case this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I want to let you know that in addition to the weekly webinars we do here, we also offer a great fundraising CRM, we offer a donor database software program, so if you’re in the market for that or maybe thinking about switching, you can check us out at You can get a video demo. You can look at some screen shots, and download some more resources about the product. So that’s just a little bit of info about us just in case.

Right now I want to introduce our guests today. Very excited to have both of them. It’s been a while since we did sort of a double webinar but this is a great topic. This is something that people have asked us for actually. So the two guests today, Ritu Sharma and Jacqueline Breslin. Hey there ladies, how’s it going?

Jackie: Great. Really well.

Steven: Thanks so much for being here. I’m going to tell you all a little bit about both of them just in case those are new names for you. Ritu is the CEO and co-founder of Social Media for Nonprofits which can mean thought-leaders and leading practitioners in the social media space for unique head-talk style conferences in 14 cities and in 3 countries. Those are really excellent events. If you see one in your area, I would definitely recommend attending that. Really cool events.

Ritu is also a frequent speaker, she’s a blogger, she contributes to Huffington Post as well as many other places and she was recently awarded the social innovation award from the World CSR Congress so it’s great to have her and she’s a nonprofit owner herself.

We also have Jacqueline Breslin who is the director of human capital services at Tri-Net. She’s worked there since 2001. She’s assisted hundreds of clients during her tenure and leads a team of senior employer relations consultants that focus on HR compliance, work-place investigations, and challenging employee relations issues. She has previously held the roles of senior human capital consultant director and human capital consulting.

So in addition to Ritu who runs her own nonprofit, we’ve got Jackie here who is an HR expert in herself. So this is going to be a great presentation. I’m going to pipe down now. I’ve already said too much. I’m going to let these ladies take it away, so go for it ladies.

Jackie: This is Jackie Breslin and I will go ahead and kick things off. So today we’re going to talk about . . . Finding talent is tough enough, but what do you do to keep that talent? You work so hard to get them in the door but then retaining them can be one of the most incredible challenges that employers face.

So we’ll talk about keeping people engaged, managing liability, staying focused on the mission of your organization, and we’ll also bring you some tips, tools, and some suggestions.

So now that you’ve found this excellent talent how do you keep them? Tip one, we have pay according to the market value. One of the most important items to look at when you’re wanting to make sure that you retain employees, or being able to attract employees, is that your compensation and your pay practices are within market. You can also really articulate what your compensation philosophies are. When looking at your pay practices you need to first assess where you are.

Companies need to understand how your pay practices align with the market. We recommend working with and really looking at salary surveys as a starting point. Making sure that you understand where you’re at so you’re paying close to the . . . Are your base salaries close to average? Are they a little below average? All of those things are okay, maybe they’ve even well below average. All of that is just information so understanding where you are and how your salaries are benchmarked are really important.

So offering training isn’t enough. While you can have an attractive training program and offering employees really interesting opportunities, that’s imperative. We know. We’re not here to tell you that no you don’t want to be focused on that also but there’s no doubt that the compensation is another important piece. So you want to look at an employee’s experience against the role that they’re in and again examining where they are and assessing where they are.

You also want to develop a plan to bridge the gap. So if you do determine that your salary is below market and you want to bring that up, make a plan. You don’t have to solve this problem in 30 days or 90 days but you do want to create a roadmap to them. So maybe you decide if you’re below market maybe this is a year you’ll be able to budget for some bonuses. Well, that certainly helps close the gap.

Maybe you even want to do incentive compensation so that based on an employee’s good performance and based on them being able to deliver on the expectation, and based on how close they come . . . So if they hit it a 100 percent or 90 percent or 75 percent, they get a percentage of that incentive compensation.

So this can be a great way to keep employees engaged through the year and through the performance period and also through the compensation process as you solve the problem for longer term you can do some interim bonuses and incentive compensation. Even spot bonuses to make sure that you’re keeping employees engaged and getting them as satisfied as you can based on your budget when it comes to compensation.

Ritu: Definitely. Thank you for sharing that. One of the things that we’re noticing in the nonprofit sector is that we’re having a lot of talent drain or brain drain from our sector because people aren’t getting paid sufficiently and it’s very hard I certain parts of the country to manage and maintain a family at a decent minimum quality of life, especially where we are in California, the San Francisco region but also in other metro areas.

There are certain things that nonprofits can do. We obviously cannot compete with the tremendous talent or the forms that we have here in our neighborhood which are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and so on, but nonprofits in our region, and that’s something you can transfer to wherever you are in the country that can take away from this is that there are ways that you can compensate that don’t involve high salary. You can have employees work on a 35 hour instead of a 40 hour week as a way to offset that gap in the salary perhaps.

You can also look at a higher title, a better title as an incentive, as a way to make up for perhaps not as high of a salary. But if somebody is getting a manager title, sooner versus later, that has a lot of tangible value as a nonprofit professional to get on the right trajectory for your career. So those are some creative ways that you can manage your pay according to market value. But at the end of the day, really, I think the change in the sector will come for all of us when we start taking our work as seriously as we do the for-profit work. When we also start compensating fairly close to the market value, which unfortunately is not the case in the nonprofit sector.

That’s a big part of education on our part as nonprofits to communicate to our donors, to our funders, that it does take effort, resources, and compensating on the right level to retain the right talent to change some of the biggest challenges that we face as a sector and as a society. So with that we’ll keep moving and see what we need to do besides paying according to the market value. Handing it over to Jackie.

Jackie: Okay. Perfect. So let’s talk about creating a benefits package that retains employees. So I’m not going to beat the leverage salary raise any longer. I think you’re clear that we recommend that salary surveys happen as you examine the current state of how you’re engaging employees but let’s go beyond the salary survey.

So vacation, time off, vacation pay, paid time off is so important to employees. Crafting an attractive plan that retains employees also includes determining what sort of . . . How many weeks off are you going to provide to employees? This can be a great way to get employees in the door and then also over time many times employees will have an accrued time off policy where employees accrue increasingly over time.

That’s great. I mean I just talked to one of my colleagues who’s so excited to hit here three year anniversary because she gets five more days of PTO. I mean it was a big important perk for her as she thinks about what’s coming for her in 2015. So don’t underestimate that. Then also putting on my compliance hat for just a second, you know there are so many states and cities that are now requiring paid sick-leave. California is one that we’re about to see that occur in July. New York City initiated paid sick-leave back earlier this year and San Francisco has required employers to offer paid sick leave for many, many years.

So not only is PTO a nice perk, it’s also becoming a law when we look at paid time off as paid sick leave in many areas. There’s a lot more to come. This is not something that we’ll see states and cities doing less of. We can only anticipate that more. Cities and states will begin requiring employers, and its employers of any size in California. No exceptions. We anticipate that that will be the trend also.

So the next step is retirement plans. I think that a lot of employers stop short of offering retirement plans because they believe that means that they need to contribute to them as an employer. That’s really a myth. If you put a 403(b) in place you can have a 403(b) that just employees contribute. You don’t have to offer company matching so it’s worth looking at.

Now I’m not saying that it’s cost-free because there’s certainly administrative costs as an employer for putting a plan in place, but it’s worth exploring and it’s also again one of those items that many employees will look for when they’re weighing one job offer against another. If they’re even looking at their current job plus what they can get out there in the marketplace, retirements plans are a big piece of it. So making it easy for employees to save for retirement in a way that is beneficial to them pre-tax out of their paycheck as a great way to make your benefits package robust.

Then health care, dental, and vision. Well, I mean there’s a really right standard and many employers put those in place, but my tip today is really analyze and make sure that your health care, your dental, and your vision plans are really meeting the expectations of employees. So are deductibles in line with what’s out there in the marketplace? Does it have the type of features and plans that employees are using? Also do employees really know about all of the features that are available?

Employees miss out when they don’t log in to health provider’s websites and see many times like the wellness benefits that are offered and that they can track claims. So even take the opportunity to do a little internal promotion of what your plans offer.

Then regular reviews and raises. What we mean by that comes in a couple of ways so making sure that you’re reviewing your health care, dental plan, and vision plans on a regular basis, and then raising your contribution when necessary or making edits to the plans when you need to is also important. I’ll talk to some employers and they’ve had the same plan with very little changes for many, many years and it’s not kept pace with what’s out there and what employees were used to. Especially on the retention front, employees just believe they can maybe have an employer who has better benefits out there.

Ritu: Wonderful. Thank you for sharing that. Benefits are again as Jacqueline pointed out in several different ways an important part of compensation. If you can make it up in your annual compensation, you have a little bit of leeway in providing attractive benefits to your employees and that goes a long way in retaining talent because that provides them the peace of mind and security in knowing that they and their families have good quality of life and there’s health care and other benefits.

With that, I think we’re going to go ahead and move on to the next tip which is build a great culture. This is something that I say that we can learn a lot from some of the successful startups and for-profits that we’ve seen at least in our region.

We don’t have to know everything, and learn everything, and create everything to get to know this aspect of work. We can learn from other people who’ve already done it and done it really well. In this case, what I’m going to go ahead and talk about is first and foremost if you see the latest surveys in the industry, both in the for-profit side, the nonprofit, and that social enterprise side, what you’re seeing in the latest data is that people are interested in working for organizations that are connected to a mission, that are mission-led.

They are not just there to make money and be corporate profit-chasing people. They’re looking for places where they can go and do all of that and get paid well, but more importantly do something where they feel like they’re making a difference and the company believes in the general social good.

That’s something that’s the very essence of our existence in the nonprofit sector so that works really well for us. Make sure that . . . But there is a pitfall in that sometimes in the nonprofit sector you get so busy doing what you’re doing whether it is fundraising, whether it is managing the databases, or whatever is your job description. You get so focused that you start to get removed from your overall mission.

A simple way of doing that on a regular basis is something I saw the United Way of the Bay Area do when I was a fellow over there. Every monthly meeting they’ll get together, they’ll talk about all of their metrics, but they’ll also talk about some of the stories from the ground of how their work has seen the life of many on the ground. They talk about how somebody was fed, somebody got to work for the services they provide, somebody got tax assistance.

They really actually took the time in the all-hands meetings and they talked about what impact their work is having and how it’s changing the work. They had letters read during that; they also had their program officers share stories. So that’s a very strong, beautiful, and a very powerful way for a nonprofit to keep all with its employees whether it’s technology, databases, or whether it’s somebody who doesn’t touch customers at all . . . All connected to the mission and that’s the biggest thing in creating a good culture here.

Next up is inviting input. It is sometimes very easy for managers to be very top-down and create policies and create procedures from the top all the way down but not take input from the employees in making sure you are providing them with what they need and that they have at least some say and participation in making the culture or organizational policies.

Simple things we recommend here is to do an annual survey about some of the work policies that you have. Do an annual survey about the benefits and the compensation and the environment that the employees are working in. This will allow people to anonymously share their true feedback about what it is like working for this nonprofit.

Because as you know from your personal experience and from my personal experience, it can be very costly to have repeated turnover. This can be a very simple for a progressive and a forward-looking nonprofit to gather the right meaningful data and share with its own stakeholders and incorporate some of this and really inspire confidence and also ownership in the employees to let them know that not only are you interested in hearing this you’re also going to go ahead and incorporate some of these changes.

Again, a good place to announce these surveys and then following that, anonymously again, taking some of the points that were brought up. Especially if it is by multiple people, and announcing changes to that to let them know across the board that not only is it okay to share that input, you welcome that, but also that you’re not going to just listen and put this on some shelf. You’re actually going to incorporate some of the changes that they have suggested whether it is flexible hours, whether it is remote working, or whether it is having an afternoon off before the holiday.

Also in addition to inviting input, I would say, have an open-door policy. This is sometimes very hard for people to actually execute on in the nonprofit or the for-profit sector for that matter actually. The reason for that is having and saying an open-door policy are two different things. If you have conversations in the staff and your material that says, “We have an open-door policy.” But you don’t encourage people to come to you, you don’t take action, and you don’t express empathy towards some of the challenges that they may have, or you don’t take their ideas and encourage them to bring those kinds of ideas, an open-door policy posted everywhere will do you no good.

The only way to truly have an open-door policy is not only to encourage people but to express empathy when they do come with complaints and concerns to take into account some of their suggestions, to the extent that if possible, reasonable, and in alignment with both mission and business objectives of a nonprofit.

Next step is having public forms of recognition. We’re all motivated by some form of recognition. Different people are motivated differently. Some will be motivated by a raise, some will be motivated by getting a hand-written note from the CEO, and some will be motivated by their peers recognizing the hard work and team work that they bring to the table.

So as a good HR manager and as somebody who’s involved in creating culture in your organization, it’s your job to figure out what motivates different kinds of people and have a mix of recognition opportunities and incentives available to you that you can take and distribute as appropriate. It’s easy to do obviously in a smaller team, but also it is easier for you to do that when you can do it through different managers, so the top doesn’t have to do it. It can also be done through different managers.

Creating that culture is an important part. I’ll give you a couple of examples. In this case if people meet their goals, objectives, and they do well, then you can provide them a half a day off before Thanksgiving. You can provide them with half a day off before Christmas day. It doesn’t cost you very much, there’s not much work happening anyway, but you’re giving them an incentive and the recognition.

Where I used to work in banking we used to get for people who had the highest scores in the metrics that we were measured in, we got a day before Thanksgiving off or a day after Thanksgiving off. So we were given those kinds of incentives. In addition to those incentives, you can also have a lunch with the CEO, lunch with the development director, you can take an employee out to a fairly reasonable place.

You can also give an experience. You can find common experiences that are likely to motivate people whether it’s an acupuncture, whether it’s a massage, whether it’s a wellness training of some sort. Different things that incent people and motivate them. So that’s just a few forms of recognition for you.

One quick example here is empower people to recognize the work of their co-workers. It’s very important because that’s really what drives collaboration in certain organizations. So for example instead of the top-down approach of recognizing, you can actually give these incentives to each department that they’re welcome to give to either their team members or especially a team member from another department and that’s what really fosters cross-team collaboration.

So for example if development is doing a Giving Tuesday campaign or an appeal and the marketing and social media teams really go out of their way in helping, stayed late, figured out last-minute glitches and graphics and whatnot, perhaps the development team actually give a lunch to the entire team of the marketing and social media which is often two or three people in most nonprofits. Vice versa, you can do . . . These kinds of incentives can be made available to teams to give to each other and then you’re actually fostering cross-team collaboration.

Looking at a couple of other tips here. Embrace a transparent team, it’s very straight-forward. Support professional development. This is really important, I think one of the things we look for and what helps a nonprofit retain talent is again providing professional development opportunities.

Memberships at different organizations like The Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network, whatever their field of expertise is, finding if there are organizations that they should be members of so they can develop their network and they can develop their skills.

Looking at if you are a writer or if you’re doing development and you’re writing extensively, writing-related courses. If you are in public speaking and you’re doing a lot of appeals, if you’re doing development and you’re doing a lot of appeals, perhaps post a media-training or public speaking training on a regular basis. So find ways to help your employees do what they do better. You’ll not only have great results, you’ll also provide them professional development and help them further their careers.

Finally, this is my favorite one, which is promote work-life balance. It is very easy in our sector to get burnt out because we are surrounded by a lot of poverty, a lot of environmental destruction, a lot of lack of literacy, lack of clean water, and access to a lot of these things. These are hard things to be working around and changing and knowing that it takes a long time to make changes in any of these systematic and systemic issues in our work.

So there’s already a lot of stress in our work and on top of that if we push for really long hours and don’t take healthy breaks in between and don’t create a culture of health, we’re really looking to speed the exiting of the talent. Not only from the nonprofit sector but in case of women oftentimes from work environments as well.

So I encourage all of you to be very mindful, to do more walk-in meetings, to do more standing meetings, to take more breaks as a team together perhaps, and use that moment for, “Hey, let’s go walk around the block and talk instead of sitting on chairs.” So look for different ways.

Provide a membership or discounts to memberships at different wellness institutions, gyms, and look for other ways to really promote . . . One of the simplest ways to do this is for the CEOs and the executive directors and the department heads to actually go home at 5:30, 6:00 so you can encourage people to do the same.

If you’re having chronically to work past 5:30, 6:00 every single day and not making it to dinner, whether you’re alone with friends or whether you have families with your children and families, then that is an indication to a bigger problem which is perhaps you need to have more people on your team or you’re trying to do more than you have resources for. So it’s really important to look at work-life balance as part of your culture to create a healthy workforce.

When you do that and you lead by example in that as a CEO, as an AD, you’re more likely to retain talent because not only do you care about the work and the teams you make, you also care about the people who are working to make that change. It’s very important to think about that as you build a healthy and a sustainable good culture in your organization.

Finally, for me, maximize performance reviews. This is a tough one and this is something we all in the nonprofit sector sometimes struggle with because the perception and the fact is you’re supposed to be very nice, you’re in the nonprofit sector, so this is a double edged sword so to speak. You want to be thoughtful, you want to be accurate, you also want to provide information for growth and development. What I recommend here is have at least one to two reviews per year. No question about it.

There should be a six-month review and an annual review for brand new employees that you’re bringing on-board. There should be a one-month review, 90-day review, and then going onto your standard procedures or whatever your organization’s standard is.

As you start your, especially with new employees, but as you even go forward, this can be introduced at any point, is have preset clear goals to help objectivity. Don’t measure people on metrics that they weren’t informed of. Don’t measure them on . . . Whether it’s tweets per hour for your social media person, or it’s blog posts per month, if you haven’t communicated this is what they’re supposed to do and this is what is expected of them.

So for every single job in your organization, look at what the key metrics of success. What are the key things that they need to perform on to be successful? Share that with your employee, make sure that they have an opportunity to have a say. Don’t set these goals and objectives top-down from somebody who’s not doing this job. Provide an opportunity for your nonprofit employee to come and say to you, “You know, I appreciate the metrics and the key areas of success that we’ve identified. I’d like to point out that it’s actually not possible to do this and be able to do the rest of the things.” Allow that conversation so they have ownership and engagement at all times in their job responsibilities.

But if you push for changes or performance metrics that they did not buy into, they’re going to have a defeatist attitude towards it and they’re like, “Well, you know, it’s not like what I think matters.” Then they’re going to do the best they can and they’ll be on the lookout for the next job. That’s not what you want.

So what you want to do is have a clear set of objective guidelines and metrics, invite your employee who you’re going to be judging on that, and say, “Does this seem fair? Does this seem doable?” Encourage them if something changes while you’re doing these things and you find something needs to be changed, empower them to feel free to come to you with those changes and say, “Hey. I’d like to be able to do this but something else has to give.” So encourage that and empower that so you can have an engaged and invested employee.

As you do your reviews, whether they’re monthly or weekly or 90 days, whatever is your frequency for your teams, make sure that you’re positive and you’re coming from a good perspective. You’re coming from a place of, “How can I inspire this employee to do the best they can to meet the objectives and point out things for areas of growth and development?”

So you always start with something that’s where you can identify the strengths of, “Hey, you are very good at doing this. You provide great value. You’re a great team-worker, but unfortunately you’re often very tardy and you come late to work and that sets a bad example for the rest of the team. It’s also demoralizing.”

If they’re coming from a place where there’s a lot of traffic or something, perhaps shift their hours if you do have the flexibility to allow them that flexibility. But have a conversation, and then again, end on a positive note and with, “Hey, we value your contribution. What you’re doing is really valued. We really would love for you to continue doing what you’re doing but I want to make sure that we also bring awareness so you can be better. There’s always an opportunity for every one of us to be better.”

Finally the two other things that I’d like to mention, remind again, and reinforce here is titles make people happy and if they do well at the end of their annual review and you don’t have much money to give them perhaps consider giving them a title raise. That’s another incentive for you. If you tell them, “Hey we can’t give you a financial raise, but we recognize how hard you’ve worked this year. We value what you bring to the team and we’re going to give you a title raise. Hopefully as we expand our budget and as we do more we’ll look at financial incentives as well.”

Same thing. Annual reviews are a great place for you to review how you’re paying your employees. Are they being compensated with what is current in the market? Is that the case? If not this is a great opportunity for you to review again and see what you need to do to retain the talent in your organization. Going forward, handing it on to Jackie for some compliance training.

Jackie: Okay. Great. Thanks so much. I love what you said about performance reviews. I also think it’s great to be really clear with employees what your rating scale means and with your managers. So sometimes when I’m working with clients they’ll be using a five-point rating scale, five being ready to be the next CEO, one being if things don’t turn around, you’re probably not going to be able to retain your job.

But they’ve never explained to the managers really what the five, four, three, two, one means and so a three to one manager might not be the same thing to the manager sitting next to them at the conference table, so it’s really important to get managers on the same page with what each of those rating numbers mean, and then making sure that that same information is translated and transferred to employees. So everybody understands what they’re being rated on and what the definitions are.

So let’s talk about CYA which we mean cover your assets and to help you look at compliance. So the first one is risk management can’t be ignored. I can bundle so many things under risk management as an HR person.

I feel like worker’s compensation lives here and so making sure that you have communicated to employees that they need to report injuries and to make sure that everybody is really clear on that process. It’s just a really basic good risk-management step.

I feel like the last bullet plan here is disability but under disability I would also partner that with managing leaves of absences appropriately so when an employee needs to take a medical leave, they may be entitled to disability and that could be a plan you’re paying for employees on the outside, or if you’re in a state that has employees paying into it. That’s one component of it but really just making sure that employees know how they’re to request a leave of absence, making sure managers know how to respond to employees when they come to them requesting medical time off.

Sending the employees the appropriate paperwork that they need during a leave; following up with employees. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that an employee’s request for a leave of absence is a reasonable accommodation. That gets missed a lot for employers. They don’t know the ADA can be an important part of medical leave and disability leave so that for me also lives under the title of risk-management.

Payroll services are another part of this. So find a really great strong payroll partner. Those partners vary from very simplistic, inexpensive to provide a paycheck to very sophisticated payroll partners who will give you information on determining whether an employee is exempt or non-exempt and needs to be paid over-time. Really everything in between. You need to just determine what’s right for your organization and then find a good match of a really high-quality provider.

They’re going to be making sure, they should be making sure that employees are receiving accurate checks and paying your taxes appropriately to all of the right tax entities and keeping you up to date on what’s changing out there in payroll law and regulation. It’s really a partnership worth investing in and researching well.

Then unemployment, so you’ll pay unemployment for all of your employees and I know that you may be paying it in different ways. You may be paying it every payroll when you pay wages or you may be paying unemployment claims, you know reimbursing the state when an employee files for unemployment and is paid unemployment. You may be on that sort of process. So unemployment is really important from a risk-management standpoint to respond to claims.

Many employers also think that it’s kind of no big deal, “I’m not going to respond.” But there’s even a federal regulation that started in 2014, the Federal Integrity Act. I’m sorry Federal Unemployment Integrity Act I think is the right name, where it says that employers have a due responsibility to respond to unemployment claims and give factual information.

So if your favorite employee resigned and you don’t feel like contesting their unemployment because you feel like they worked here for a long time, they deserve unemployment, that’s a choice you can make but that’s not without risk at this point based on that federal law.

Also under the guidelines of risk management and the way to save costs, always make sure that you’re getting resignation letters or emails from employees that leave because as many of you on the phone might agree many employees, even when they resign, will file for unemployment to see if they’re eligible. If you don’t respond to unemployment claims, somebody who resigned may slip through the process, they may receive unemployment payment even if they really haven’t earned them.

So let’s talk about tip six and investing in your employees. I have some thoughts on ways to do that. So I think one of the ways to invest in employees that is so beneficial to the entire organization, to them as employees, and to you in leadership skills including communication skills. Sometimes even starting there does amazing things.

So putting your leadership team through the same communication course, having a trainer or instructor come out to your location and talk about communication skills, even reading a book together on communication skills that you identify that really fits the culture of your organization can be very powerful.

It gives you an opportunity to speak the same language in many ways, use the same terms, and kind of go back to it at times when communication gets strained or difficult. But it really is a great way to boost the caliber of your leaders, and it says a lot to your employees when you can tell them that you’re sending all of your managers through communication courses. This can be a web-based course; also, there’s a lot of good e-learning that’s out there. So I encourage you to look at your manager’s leadership skills and consider communication.

You might see other areas that your managers could use development in and every single one of us has them so that’s something that we all should recognize, just honestly, and then focus on building your manager’s skill banks.

I’m sorry, finding mentors for managers and individual contributors is also a really great way to invest. So that could be within your organization partnering or finding a partner nonprofit outside where you can exchange mentorship relationship. It’s fantastic. So from learning how other organizations approach things or how somebody has approached their individual career, just guidance and an ear to speak to. Somebody to bounce ideas off of is really beneficial and helps with the growth of individuals.

Formalize a tuition reimbursement policy. It’s great. Another way that’s great to invest in employees is to make sure that they have an opportunity to attend training, attend seminars, and maybe even go back and continue their education. While you may throughout the year be approving expense reimbursements for these types of classes, sitting down and really thinking through what you’re going to budget for the year for tuition reimbursement and then being able to communicate those things to employees is another great way to invest.

So to think through that an employee would, every start of the calendar year, know that they have a thousand dollars for example to spend on continuing education is great. I think it also suits the type of people that you want to retain and attract are those that are continuing to build their skills and continuing to want to be better at what they do individually and for your organization. I think I skipped one, let me go back.

Ritu: Thank you for sharing that. Those are just as important as building a culture, compensating, to be had in this department or in this area of nonprofit management where you have to balance building a culture and retaining talent but also protect the assets of the nonprofits so you can make sure that the nonprofit is around for longer and not bogged down in lawsuits or similar legal troubles.

So thank you for bringing that voice of sanity and also the balance in the conversation. With that, we’re going to share a couple of the next steps for you as to what you can do after this webinar. Know that at the end of this webinar, at the very end, we’ve provided two or three slides of different resources that you can review at your own leisure.

But with that, I’m going to go ahead and start with one of the first things you can do is to work with an experience HR or a survey company who specializes in surveying employees and creating culture and such, so you can use your expertise to do an objective survey of what is currently the company culture, what is the communication style, and measure on what is the common industry benchmarks in the nonprofit your size with the number of employees and also the area of expertise or focus that you have.

The next thing is to analyze those results and compare them to norms. Certain things are considered norms in terms of salaries, surveys, other similar . . . hard benchmarks, you can compare them to the industry existing, but also compare those to subjective conversations with other leaders in the nonprofit space who are doing similar work and are also similar in size.

You can measure both the subjective and the objective and both the hard and the soft part of your organization’s HR culture and manage both of them.

Then the next thing is really look for areas of weaknesses and areas of growth and they’re kind of the same. Look for how you can address something that’s coming up that’s persistent that people are really voicing across the board and how you can manage and address that within the resources and within the limits that you have as an HR manager at your organization.

Jackie: Great. So I can go ahead and take these next steps. So communicating the results of the survey are so important. While that may seem like an obvious bullet point, it’s easy to get distracted. Right? You survey and you talk about it as a leadership management team, and gosh, it can feel a little overwhelming. How do we communicate this back? We have some good news; we have some not so good news.

It takes some time to think through your communication plan but no matter how overwhelming it is, getting it back out to the employees who participated in the survey is really important. Many times an HR professional can help you with how to message that effectively and also thinking through the next steps.

So step number four, you want to develop a plan and attack the areas and issues that need attention. Sometimes that could be some really easy low-hanging fruit and it’s amazing the things that come back from these surveys. You might find that your employee on-boarding process is good but wow with a few little tweaks you could make it fantastic. That can be easy and helpful information.

Also promote what’s working and your company’s strengths because you are sure to find those when you do a survey. Sometimes it can definitely be enlightening and frankly heartwarming when you hear from employees the things that they really value about working in your organization. Those sorts of . . . Turning that into your culture statement, it helps even to talk through . . . I know we’re talking about retaining employees but when you’re talking to applicants, talking about the items that came back as strengths through a survey is a great way to use that information.

Then five, you want to measure and conduct a future survey to compare the results from one survey to the next. That’s another period of time where it’s great to see how far you’ve come and areas where you’re progressing and areas that you still need to focus on. Even introducing to employees when you do the survey for the first time that we’re in this for the long haul so we’re going to survey you this time but we’re going to loop back again in a year and this is the way we’re going to undergo improvement and it’s an ongoing process for us. Hang in there, you’re part of the solution and we want to continue to hear from you year to year.

So as wrap-up, just a couple of things that we’ve focused on today. A reminder to pay fairly and take a look at your pay practices. Craft a great benefits package, get creative with paid time off, retirement plans, and health, vision, and dental plans and continue to analyze those over time and make sure that they match your current company. Build a great culture, a culture of an open door of where employees have flexibility, where employees are comfortable talking to you, and where performance is of the highest caliber and is rewarded well.

You want to maximize performance reviews. It’s a time to talk about an employee’s achievements, and also time to talk to employees about areas they can improve, and also time to hear about where employees want to go with your organization. Where do they see their future? What do they want to participate in? Invest in your employees and that looks different for every organization. So from training, to mentoring, to tuition reimbursement, are ways to invest and see your employees succeed.

Also we want you to leverage some tips and tools that we’re about to share with you. We’ll also have some time for questions and I can forward to the . . .

Ritu: Absolutely. Let us know if you have any questions at all. We’re here. A you can see, we’ve got a lot of tips, tools, and resources at the back of this slide which will be sent to you, but we’re happy to take questions and we’ll ask Steven to jump back in and see if there are any questions, or if there are any resources we can provide.

I’m going to go ahead and take the first question from Shirley McGrill

[SP] Shirley, you mentioned that you are an office of three and a half office for an animal care nonprofit organization and many options are beyond your financial capability or the capacity of your nonprofit. What I would say that it actually starts from when you were that small. It’s not that an organization actually evolves eventually one day and then starts to enforce a lot of these things.

Many of these things you start small and you do what you’re able to. If you aren’t able to give, say for example in terms of incentives, a half-day off or massage, then you get a very inexpensive lunch or you get an hour off early on a week day. Especially on a Friday, especially if you can get out of the work sooner versus later.

So there are many different ways to actually have these tips and tools to all work for your nonprofit. The goal is not . . . I know it’s very challenging as a webinar or an educator to provide the information that will work for a two-person organization and 200, so we provide somewhere in the middle and we encourage you to take it in, and put your own touch on it, look at it against your own resources, and take it with you to see how you can use some of these ideas from these startups, from bigger nonprofits, people who are doing well, and what can you do inspired by these ideas to even come up with your own options.

These are just things to get your creative juices flowing so we hope that you’re able to take some of these things. If not our email is on the back. If you have questions specific to what you are experiencing as some of the challenges, both Jackie and I are happy to answer some of those questions.

Jackie: I can go ahead and take another question I see in our chat regarding. It’s from Laurie, “Can you give tips for surveying a multitier personnel direct-support managers and directors. Should it be the same survey? Should we tweak it for each level depending on responsibilities?”

I do recommend the same survey that goes to all employees but at the end of the survey you could put, and I would recommend this, what’s your title or what level. But you’ve broken that down really purely. So are you in direct support, sorry, managers, or directors? Use the language that’s right for your organization but that can be a great way.

Then when you analyze the data, you can see the responses based on the organization chart. But I think one survey because I think you want the same information from everyone. There are different sorts of surveys you can do, like for example 360s if you’re interested in how managers are succeeding and areas they need development in. You could do something like that, the manager 360. So it depends on what you’re trying to survey but for culture surveys and for employee satisfaction surveys, workplace satisfaction surveys, I’d recommend that all people in the organization receive the same survey.

Ritu: Wonderful. I will take the other one here which is, “We are a one stop small organization that is looking to expand our staff. How would one seek out mentor-hip?” I’m not sure if you’re looking for mentorship in a specific area, so it’s not very clear, but I would look at different capacity building organizations in your neighborhood. Definitely United Way, different foundations that focus specifically on capacity building and seek out support from there.

There are also different meetups and groups in each region and formally organized on LinkedIn, on, where EDs get together and talk about younger EDs or EDs that are new to the sector or field. So there’s a lot of these informal groups. I would encourage starting with your capacity building organizations and organizations like GuideStar that serves several nonprofits under them to see regional resources, to seek mentorship resources for you and your staff if that’s what you were asking for.

Jackie, any recommendations on good performance worksheets? There’s another question on that.

Jackie: I utilize the Society of Human Resources organization, SHRM. I would recommend looking to see what they have on their website. I find them to be helpful. I also like I would check out to see if they have any templates available there. I think both of those are great HR resources.

Ritu: Wonderful. Then Debbie has a question about benchmarking resources. In the resource list, Debbie, we’ve listed several bench-marking venues where you can get some information. I recommend taking a look at the resource list and taking a look at it. If you don’t see what specifically you’re looking for, definitely reach out to us. Both Jackie and I, we’d be happy to look into it and also reach out to our networks to see if we can find you specific benchmarking resources in the area that you’re looking for. But we reviewed a lot of resources in the resource list.

Steven: Cool. Thanks ladies, it looks like we’ve gotten through pretty much all of the questions. I just want to give anyone who may have been sitting on some questions one last chance to type them in. We’ve got about five minutes left. I definitely want to leave some time for some wrap-up things but while we wait I just want to say, Ritu, Jackie, thank you so much. All of that content was great. I hope you had as much fun delivering it as I did listening in.

Jackie: Absolutely. Thank you.

Ritu: Thank you very much for having us and providing us the opportunity to share some of our insights and experiences.

Steven: Yeah. It was a lot of fun. Just in the time we have remaining I know you talked a little bit about all of your resources and tools. Just want to give both of you one last word, let people know how they can get in touch with you, get in touch with the organizations, and learn more about TriNet and Social Media for Nonprofits.

Ritu: Sure thing. I’ll go first. Our contact information as you can see is here. If you have any questions at all about the work we do, I encourage you to reach out to me. Social Media for Nonprofits, we provide on-site training through several of our conferences. We provide a lot of blog posts on many tangible aspects of social media marketing. We provide a lot of webinars where we partner with people like Steven and Bloomerang but also other industry leaders. So do check us out. If there’s anything we can help you with, don’t hesitate to reach out to us, and we wish you well and good luck with your year-end appeals and fundraising.

Jackie: This is Jackie. My information is right there on the screen so feel free to reach out to me there and then our website is also rich with . . . We have a great blog on timely HR information. We also have an HR assessments tool that’s out there that if you’re trying to analyze what sort of shape your HR department is in, it’s a great tool to take a look. We work with thousands of clients all across the country in different industries, definitely including nonprofits and are happy to talk to you. Thanks so much.

Steven: Cool. Just while we’re talking about ourselves, I just want to let everyone know that we do do these webinars every Thursday. We’ve also got some other great downloadables, we’ve got a video podcast, as well as our daily blog on the Bloomerang website, so check that out.

Lots of good stuff there and we’ve got a couple more webinars coming up in December. We’ve got two more Thursdays. One week from today Vanessa Chase is going to be our guest. She’s going to talk about how to keep and inspire donors with stories. We’re going to talk about storytelling as it relates to fundraising.

Then a week later after that, Harold Pinkham is going to join us. He’s going to talk about mid-level giving. Interesting topic, Harold is an extremely smart fundraiser. That’s going to be a great program. Check those out if either of those topics interests you. We’ve also got a few webinars scheduled into 2015; you may find something there that interests you. So please do visit that page and register for any of those free webinars. We’d love to see you again one Thursday.

So Ritu, Jackie, thanks again for being here this was a lot of fun. I’m going to send out the recording as well as the slides and you’ll be able to look at all of those resources just in case you weren’t able to jot them down. So thanks again all for joining us, have a great weekend, and we will talk to you hopefully next week. Bye now.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.