Retain to Sustain: How Your Employees Impact Your Nonprofit’s Mission

We’ve all heard it time and time again: “9 out of 10 nonprofits lack a formal retention strategy.”* Nonprofits need to revise their view on employee retention. Training a new employee is expensive. Keep your employees happy to keep costs down.

But the constant stream of demands is easy to tune out. There are thousands more pressing concerns that need to be addressed first, right?

The cost of losing a talented employee who is familiar with your organization, cause, and market far outweighs the time it takes to develop and implement an effective formal employee retention plan. Worse, the loss continues to grow as you factor in the time it takes to find and train a replacement, and the time it takes them to build relationships equivalent to those lost when your former employee left.

So what’s a busy nonprofit to do?

Start small. Next time you’re looking to fill an empty position, take a close look at your recruitment strategy. Are you doing everything you can to attract recruits that will be a good fit in your organization not only when they start, but a few years down the line? The more engaged an employee is with your organization, the longer they are likely to stay (and grow) with your organization. But if you aren’t doing the small things up front, like being honest and open about your organization’s culture, chances are your organization will be waging an uphill battle to keep them onboard.

Give them a ring. Not a literal ring. But imagine employee engagement as a dating relationship; to keep your employees onboard and on track, it’s important that you both are continuously assessing the relationship, strengthening your commitment, and ensuring satisfaction. If you think employee engagement might be missing a beat, find new ways to make work more enjoyable, both emotionally and professionally for your employees. And then thank them for their hard work.

People aren’t computers, and they aren’t easily replaceable, but we all fall behind sometimes. So, how does your organization foster employee engagement?

*2013 Nonprofit HR Employment Trends Survey, Nonprofit HR, (2013), retrieved from http://bit.ly/1apm9Ph.

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06/16/13 9:47 PM

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