Nonprofits staff turnover is twice that of for-profit businesses. And charities know that when good employees leave, it costs time, money and the quality of overall service provision can suffer, at least temporarily. Why is turnover in nonprofits so high?
Contrary to your likely expectation, the answer isn’t about money. Sure, everyone – in any nonprofit, would like to access the greatest possible salary and benefits packages. And they deserve the best you have available. I am sure you know this and provide the most generous compensation possible. But good staff members still walk out the door.
Countless and recent research shows that salary IS NOT the reason most staff move on to other nonprofits, or leave the sector, altogether. All employees want to be treated as if they matter (and they do). Too often, nonprofits assume that because our team is mission-driven, that love of social good will be an adequate substitute for best practice employee communication, engagement and practices.
The top 14 reasons cited for high staff turnover rates include lack of leadership and mentoring, poor communication, lack of training; no performance reviews; no recognition among peers. Virtual engagement can fill those gaps.
The guiding principal in building your Staff Engagement platform is this: good employee/employer relations depends upon the same attributes of ALL relationships - a connection (in this case, professional) that is based on mutual respect, trust, honesty and support. Nonprofit management’s most important responsibility to employees is to “have their back,” making sure their legal rights and responsibilities as employees are clear and always enforced—both ways. Our job is to make sure that employees work in a productive and safe (physically and emotionally) work environment. This can often mean you will want to provide written guidelines and formal processes for two-way conversations, rather than relying on verbal instructions or suggestions.
A great leader provides as much information and transparency as possible about the organization, the mission, job expectations, goal achievement across departments (or lack thereof when need be), and management strategies and plans – all in an easy to access, reliable way. The best nonprofits clearly set achievable standards for employee performance success and then help to meet those standards by providing consistent and predictable guidance and feedback along the performance journey.
We also never want to forget to inspire and excite our team. People work well, both as individuals and in teams, when they feel they are reaching for a goal that is greater than themselves. We want our team members to understand, in a quantifiable format, the impact that they are making on the mission, their team, consumers and their communities.
Thank you-s, success stories, and carefully fostered communication sharing can make all the difference in engaging EVERY employee’s head AND heart.
What content should you include in your Staff Group?
#1. Provide all HR basic forms, policies, procedures and required paperwork in ONE easy to access place. Include:
- Board Approved Employee Policies and Procedures (and make sure you update them as needed). Ask for a check-off when your employee reviews policies and send them a notice when there is an update. NEVER assume because you sent a new Employee Handbook of Policies and Procedures that it was opened and read. Likely, it was not. Also, management sometimes “park” an important document like this along with 50 (or 500) other HR or admin documents, expecting that staff will spend the time to comb through files to find the latest (or any) version of what they need. They won’t, and they don’t.
- Links to time sheets – Why make your employees log into multiple systems? Either post your required time sheet, as a shared document or provide a link to your established payroll system of time tracking.
- Required forms such as 1099s, W-4’s, etc.
- A place to park and easily update/add to required resumes, certifications of training
- Required medical and other benefit (401k, etc.) applications/forms
- Requests for leave
- Applications for new positions
- Expense Reimbursement forms
You get the idea!
2. Feedback Centers/Message Boards – Provide a public, semi-public or private forum for your employees’ “shout outs” and other forms of colleague recognition – focusing on the big and small recognitions that make for a well-oiled, highly motivated team.
3. Private channels to directly contact management with concerns, questions or complaints. FYI: The lack of this is among employees’ number one complaints and the reason that so many HR problems escalate and lead to terminations, resignations and or legal problems.
4. Onboarding or other training videos and materials. This can cut costs and time in onboarding new staff, so that use the time you do have to make that all-important, personal, face-to-face connection with your new team member. Also, missed training sessions and other how-to guides or materials are always accessible to watch, read or review one more time.
5. Shared documents for collaborative planning, threaded discussions and program management
6. Short Surveys, Q&As and Flash Poles
7. Individual, departmental or organization-wide announcements
8. Invitations/Event Scheduling
9. Impact Reports/Annual Reports
10. Photos and videos from staff events, new babies, weddings, special moments, etc.
11. Inspiring stories of mission success
12. Departures and New Employee Introductions
13. Introductions to Board members and Other Key Constituents
14. Ongoing document management Your Staff Engagement Community provides unlimited, archivable and keyword searchable access to all documents stored, accessible based upon password designation.