Blogs

November 18, 2022

Implementing Change to Build Resiliency

Some argue that they couldn’t prepare for the pandemic, because it was a black swan event—defined as unforeseeable. While that may be true, it’s imperative to develop and implement better defenses against future incidents—regardless of forewarning. Whether the next calamity is a virus, an extreme weather event, or something else, the effects to your nonprofit can be mitigated. Take strategic steps now to protect your clients, workers, continuity of services, and overall sustainability from whatever the future may bring.

Three Major Threats

Start by understanding and correcting three common vulnerabilities. First, study your supply chain and its logistics risks. Those with global supply chains may be at higher levels of vulnerability to any kind of worldwide incident. Next, make sure to complete your survival plan to manage your continuity in the event of any kind of shutdown or crisis. And third, understand that communication helps to reduce uncertainty, so develop a clear communication plan with your team and partners. Once you’ve taken these initial steps, you're ready to deep-dive into real preparedness.

Three Keys to Recovery

Nonprofits strengthen their resilience through robust, faster, and more inclusive post-disaster rebuilding. When the process is robust, organizations become less vulnerable to future disruptions; when it's fast, people can get back to their normal life earlier; and when it's inclusive, nobody is left behind in the recovery process. Now, imagine that public and private stakeholders across the land are performing the same process. This can include small and large governmental agencies, for-profit companies, private citizen groups, and nonprofit organizations. Encourage your nonprofit to join the conversation, as everyone pulls together to build back better, with faster communication, inclusive thinking, and robust planning.

The Unfolding Future and Disaster Risk Reduction

The effects of climate change are already increasing destruction and the risk of life globally. Many are already seeking ways to mitigate and prepare for upcoming disasters. Flood, fire, and disease are on the rise, as we continue to survive through natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. The United Nation’s 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR) predicted that “the risk of economic losses is rising as a result of the rapidly increasing value of assets that are exposed to major hazards.” In addition, a large proportion of losses continue to be associated with small and recurring disaster events that severely damage critical public infrastructure, human lives, animal and wildlife, agriculture, housing, and production.”

It is no longer practical to put off disaster preparedness in the hope that it won’t happen. True, nonprofits must work within limited budgets, often relying on the ingenuity of their leaders. Because of this, the best plan for long-term resiliency is to integrate sustainability into everything your nonprofit does. Resilience means that your nonprofit will be able to adapt and recover rapidly from disruptions due to emergencies.

No matter how devastating an emergency might be, recovery can take place. It might require months or even years, but when communities work together, balancing short-term objectives and long-term goals, involving all stakeholders, and following a common vision for the future – they can pull together funding from more sources, additional technical support, and information gleaned from other nonprofits to build back better, stronger, more adaptable, and more resilient.

The good news is various programs are now available to reduce the impact of natural, technological, and human-made events on your nonprofit’s community. The National Hazard Management Association (NHMA) has developed the Disaster Risk Reduction Ambassador Curriculum (DRR) in cooperation with FEMA. The DRR Ambassador Curriculum helps community stakeholders find ways to understand and prepare to implement programs and measures handling the entire disaster cycle – pre, during and post disaster. This supports nonprofit and other community leaders as they engage in community-level discussions with multidisciplinary educational resources, self-study materials, and training workshops. You will find three stand-alone modules, each taking about 1 to 2 hours to complete. Whether or not you can complete this training, your nonprofit could benefit from the aid of a DRR Ambassador. They come from various backgrounds and groups with the goal of helping their communities take strong proactive steps to mitigate risks from natural hazards. Bold decision-making comes from a process of education and discussion, but the rewards will take your organization beyond the minimal protection provided by existing federal standards.

DRR Ambassadors use a reference guide titled Building Your Roadmap to a Disaster Resilient Future. The Roadmap provides ideas for community disaster risk reduction along with explanations and hyperlinks to a wide array of technical and other resources needed at various junctures. Communities that avail themselves to NHMA’s program are clearly better prepared to face natural disasters in the future.

The Seven Basics

Here are seven important steps to a stronger, more resilient future:

Conduct annual risk assessments. Begin by seeing the potential scale of a hazard. Three areas deserve special consideration in gauging risks:

  • Finances. How manageable is your cash flow, debts, and expenses? Can you predict your nonprofit’s financial health up to a year? Address those red flags of worsening scenarios.
  • Technology and equipment. Cybersecurity threats can damage your bottom line and reputation. Its critical to audit your security often, as technology is constantly evolving.
  • Workspace Safety. How safe is your building and its location? Work with government agencies to weigh your risk for weather-related disasters, including floods, as well as natural disasters like earthquakes. Follow health safety updates for your building.

Cross-train employees with a clear training plan. Do your best to triage topics so they learn CPR and first aid first. Teach an escape plan, disaster preparedness, and preparation for other risks to life. Additionally, help employees train to work in additional roles and under different working conditions, such as a temporary worksite.

Stock up on supplies. Your team might be required to shelter in place at the office. Are you prepared with three days of shelf-stable food and water—enough for everyone? Remember to keep fresh hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial wipes, gloves, masks, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and phone chargers well-stocked for emergencies. Note expiration dates.

Save for a rainy day. Try to build up a cash reserve equal to three to six months of your nonprofit’s expenses. A 3-month fund should be considered bare minimum. If you have a 6-month fund, you will be prepared for unexpected opportunities.

Put your people first. Enact policies to address your staff’s needs during an emergency. Help them handle their primary concern, their families, so they can then focus on your nonprofit. Plan for work-from-home options and possibly providing childcare. Also, take some time each year to review your paid leave, health insurance, and sick leave policies. How might you build in more flexibility? Set guidelines for hazard pay to help those working in essential roles under tough conditions. Show them they are valued to motivate your team during challenging events.

Re-examine and diversify your fundraising efforts. If you’ve always relied on an annual gala event, it’s time to consider additional funding options. Build your adaptability in the event of closures. If you already have a variety of sources, conduct an audit to see which are the most successful and find ways to grow those.

Apply what you’ve learned. The pandemic provided vast learning opportunities. Explore all your strategies—from policies that protected your employees’ health to ways you handled financial losses. What worked? What didn’t? Consult your organization’s stakeholders including experts, like accountants and lawyers. Be proactive in fixing what didn’t work and promoting what did.

Agility and the Post-COVID Landscape

Are you exhausted from deploying stop-gap measures? Have you been slashing budgets, shifting services online, and doing whatever else you can to help your community and protect your nonprofit? The truth has become obvious. Each challenge is only one in a series of ongoing crises that will continue to threaten your organization. You must develop a frame of mind that continuously generates fresh, new solutions – with creativity and resourcefulness. Integrating sustainability is key to adapting more rapidly to crises. Those organizations that were committed to this before the pandemic struck were better able to navigate the challenges it brought.

Many nonprofits discovered to their dismay that the tools and policies they had in place as pre-planning prior to COVID failed to manage the speed, scale, breadth, and duration of all the pandemic’s impacts. Advance investments in your human and social capital that will help. Your team’s awareness of several potential pressures that could combine toward disaster will help you move toward best-practice management of your potential risks.

While you deploy stress tests and other exercises to prepare for the future, think about how your team has communicated during the pandemic. Everyone was forced to reconsider presuppositions and communicate clearly, no matter how fluid the situation. So now, you must encourage innovative thinking, rehearse dynamic situations and seek to empower your workers to own and manage risk within their scope of influence. This is one way of weaving resilience into the fabric of your organization’s culture. Investing in your staff first, helping them to communicate effectively with stakeholders, and building their leadership skills will position your nonprofit to better navigate future crises.

You’ve seen how everything is connected. Natural events, social order, and economic systems all flow together to impact your nonprofit. More than ever, events strike with ferocious speed and impact requiring sudden changes in strategy. We will continue to feel the increasing effects of climate change, deepening inequality, biodiversity loss, political upheaval, and more. Work with your nonprofit’s leadership to be clear, decisive, and authentic in all communication with the team so that everyone places their priorities in alignment, and your organization will be better prepared to pivot.

The following guiding principles have helped other nonprofits maintain their equilibrium as they’ve worked with donors, boards and government agencies to spark endless innovation:

• Keep going. Your ability to pivot might not always look perfect, but it will fail completely if you allow yourself to be stopped by disruptions. Many nonprofits were deeply challenged by the shift to virtual services, but those with an unrelenting attitude were eventually able to adapt. You must keep moving, trying, pushing, and innovating.

• Question fundamental assumptions, so you can imagine being part of a changed future. Take time to evaluate the changing political, physical, social, economic, and health needs of your community and targeted population. How should your mission and vision change? Be sure to test the appropriateness of multiple approach options, then explore how you might scale your chosen best result, and finally how you might escape the drag of longstanding processes that restrict fresh approaches. These three steps will empower you to solve complicated challenges.

• Focus on the most vulnerable. While it’s important to work toward larger dreams for the future, try to avoid leaving behind marginalized community members. Solutions that you devise for the most marginalized populations will find their way to help the larger society, too.

• Small steps add up to big changes. Start with small, rigorously tested ideas. Your methodology will mean everything as you design a process for continuous, everyday innovation. Start with one small problem. Generate promising ideas. Then, come up with early prototypes so that you can test, gauge, and improve whichever one has the best potential to make the most impact. Rapid prototyping is a more flexible and cost-effective approach than major initiative launches.

With each bit of urgency in a crisis, there is also opportunity. Innovate by surveying community members, brainstorming ideas, and rapidly developing simple prototypes of the most promising solutions. Start with the most severely impacted in a crisis and scale it up later. Seizing the moment could help you lead your nonprofit past whatever has blocked change in the past. You might feel like you’re building the jet plane during take-off, but when you factor in creativity, energy, enthusiasm, and constant learning … your odds of staying aloft are good.

Aim Toward Social Purpose

While many nonprofit leaders feel pressured into focusing on financial health, a broader view will help in providing more sustainability. Social purpose, with a clear understanding of your desired impact, will guide your decisions as you seek to balance your budget against your capacity to deliver impact. COVID-19 will eventually retreat into the past, but it has left in its wake a lasting effect on how we determine our effectiveness. Keeping social purpose in mind, follow these priority takeaways:

• Social Impact. No matter how society shifts, a sharp focus on your intended impact and theory of change will help you stay relevant. If you’re forced to forge new partnerships, alter your services or advocate in new ways, reexamining your social impact is critical to informing all decisions. As community need rises, develop new ways to deliver services while maintaining public support.

• Economic Viability. If you’re struggling to handle increased demand with disruptions in funding, you’re not alone. These destabilizing conditions could threaten your long-term financial wellness, and some threats will no doubt continue in the future. Sustainable nonprofits must have reliable funding and predictable expenses as well as cash on hand for routine and emergency expenses. Develop processes for managing your financial viability. First, take a clear and detailed assessment of your financial situation. Second, plan for various financial scenarios and emergencies. Finally, be honest with all your stakeholders including donors. Ask the tough questions, such as who plans to donate again. For better planning, you need to know.

• Capacity to Deliver. Four core ideals will help you maintain services. First, you must set up a strong and distributed leadership that can pivot in response to dynamic challenges. Second, your team must be flexible, recognizing potential changes in member needs, client behaviors, and the general community landscape. Third, look for more ways to collaborate with other nonprofits and agencies. Consider public-private partnerships. Make sure your cultural values are clear, give your team cooperative skillsets, and build incentives from the top-down, so your leaders model collaboration. Fourth, build your capacity for technological improvements. Work out the training your staff will need and establish whether technology can help you scale up services while lowering your long-term costs.

Under the Radar

Most companies have a new take on teleworking, which will change where people live. Depending on the nature and location of your mission, you might notice a subtle shift in populations. COVID-19 and other recent events have sparked this interest in landscapes amenable to social distancing, home-centered work, and a small-town quality of life. In ways similar to those wrought by the last century’s industrial revolution, macro-socioeconomic shifts caused by the pandemic could mean big changes are coming. Eventually, large cities could see decreased demand for services while small-town nonprofits experience growth in supportive community members.

Your new battleground might be at the digital divide, fighting to provide reliable high-speed internet access to all, especially in rural areas. Nonprofits and NGOs should recognize the opportunities for local communities collaborating to put the COVID crisis behind, overcome the challenges of social unrest, and work together toward solutions. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that real estate agents in small towns across America have become partners toward social change, as the National Association of Realtors published information on equity, stabilization, and developing community engagement for their members.

Rural and suburban communities are remaining online. In fact, growing their online presence, like online crowdfunding, becomes a viable financial resource for nonprofits. Most of all, keep your eyes open for further societal evolution—perhaps, the next macro-adjustments will alter the very core of your nonprofit.

This is an excerpt from UST’s eBook, “3 Key Strategies for Nonprofit Resiliency: Preparing for Future Crises” in collaboration with Beth Black, Writer and Editor.

November 10, 2022

The Value of an Employee Handbook

O, humble employee handbook! Nonprofit employers count on you to provide organizational best practices to their workforce while ensuring they maintain compliance standards. Unfortunately not enough attention is paid to updating the handbook as there should be—placing these employers at risk.

Today, companies put the handbook online, posting anything from a 2,000-page guide for GitLab to a 5x8” gray card for Nordstrom that reads “Use your good judgment in all situations.” One thing about the employee handbook has not changed. It remains invaluable and indispensable to its company and their employees.

Do you know what a help an employee handbook can be for your nonprofit, your workers, and your constituents? Let’s break the handbook down to its core elements to see what makes it so powerful and beneficial.

Employee handbooks contain both policies and procedures. What is the difference between a policy and a procedure?

A policy is a principle or rule that governs decisions and actions. It functions within the framework of a company’s mission as set by management. Policies include rules for employees regarding smoking, non-disclosure agreements, vacations, dress codes, technology use, and plenty more.

Policies have scope (covering all workers) and purpose (the law that necessitates the policy). Policies promote consistent conduct and equal treatment of all employees, keep employees mindful of their duties, and help the organization comply with the law. Noncompliance can result in fines, lawsuits, loss of the company’s reputation, or risk for the employees.

Finally, policies change as the company grows, as the larger industry evolves, and as new laws and technologies arise. With good policies in place, companies and their employees can thrive in a safe, secure environment. They stabilize a company, enabling it to avert or manage workplace incidents (like an accident) or crises (like a pandemic). They hold management accountable, uphold expectations for the workers and set behavior and performance standards so that everyone can achieve success. As personnel come and go, policies sustain resilience and continuity for the institution because they will always tell new employees exactly what to do. Without policies, a company would run on chaos, but not for very long.

A procedure is a reliable process broken down into a series of steps to attain a desired result. They are instructions adopted by management to carry out policy. While policies offer the why behind a company’s actions, procedures advise how to carry out those actions. A procedure also has scope (a specific employee performing a task and who they report to) and may not apply to everyone working at the company. Procedures are required for training, process auditing, process improvement, and or compliance initiatives. They guarantee the consistency that decreases process variation, which increases procedure control. Decreasing process variation eliminates waste and boosts performance. The best procedures are written in simple, clear, and concise language.

Compiling policies and procedures into a well-organized document accessible to everyone isn’t just a good idea. It can be a lifesaver. Can you imagine police and fire departments without well-managed policies and procedures? How about the law firm or brokerage handling your personal affairs? Or the lab manufacturing your child’s asthma inhaler? Smart policy and its consistent administration ensure safer communities, safer products, and safer work spaces. They are fundamental to any nonprofit’s long-term success.

Some companies issue a policies and procedures manual, a detailed repository of every policy and procedure, even those that don’t concern employees. Other companies issue an employee handbook, which covers everything pertaining to employees, their responsibilities, and the company’s responsibilities to them. For nonprofits, an employee or volunteer handbook would include protocols for donor privacy, fundraising, whistleblowers, records retention and destruction, in-kind gift acceptance, and other situations specific to philanthropic institutions and the laws that regulate them.

Some entities issue both, providing the employee handbook to staff and posting the voluminous policies and procedures tome on the company intranet in case someone needs detailed information about a particular subject (corporate history, news articles, etc.).

Of the two, the employee handbook is the more essential document for the following reasons:

  • As part of the onboarding process, the handbook introduces new hires to the company’s mission and principles. It helps the freshly onboarded acclimate to their new roles, enabling them to become productive more quickly.
  • It sets and sustains the company’s tone and culture and shows how employees can succeed within that culture.
  • It clarifies what the company expects of each employee as well as what it offers them in compensation and benefits.
  • It ensures compliance with the law. Clear explanations from the handbook help protect the organization, showing that it endeavors to obey the law and expects its employees to do the same.
  • It outlines the employee’s legal rights and entitlements (such as the Family Medical Leave Act) under state and federal law.
  • Managers can consult the handbook to answer employees’ questions, helping to ensure both parties are on the same page concerning a workplace issue.
  • It highlights the company’s benefits, which helps to retain valued employees.
  • It can protect the company from claims and lawsuits brought by current or former employees. The handbook is one of the most useful documents to produce in the company’s defense. A legally sound employee handbook can prove that the company has exercised “reasonable care” towards its employees.
  • It requires the employee to sign the handbook’s acknowledgment page. The signed acknowledgement page verifies that the employee had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the organization’s policies, ask related questions, and agreed to follow the terms and conditions of employment set by the organization.

With the increase in flexible work schedules and more employees working off site, companies are putting their employee handbooks and policies and procedures guides online. For many, this is more convenient and efficient—and it saves on the cost of printing. But wait! There’s more! Companies are putting their entire policies and procedures guides live on the internet for everyone to see. Why would they do that?

Many of these electronic handbooks come from newer companies or tech firms to demonstrate their commitment to corporate transparency. Such firms include Basecamp, Trello, Netflix, Zappos, Hubspot, Nordstrom, Sterling Gold Mining Corporation, Facebook, and Twitter (likely rewriting their employee handbook very soon).

Some of these handbooks are masterful achievements in design, copy writing, and corporate branding. And they are unique. Regarding Twitter, EmploymentSolicitor.com challenged other law firms to help create The Employment Solicitor.com Twitter Staff Handbook, with policies stated in 140 characters or less. Meanwhile, Netflix kept it simple: “Act in Netflix's best interest.” These are not your daddy’s employee handbook! Did I mention these handbooks are downloadable?

Beyond their novelty, publicly accessible handbooks reap handsome rewards for their companies. Obviously, they don’t post anything confidential online for legal reasons, but everything else they share with an eye toward burnishing their employer brand as well as their products and services. As they give visitors a taste of their company culture, they get to market millions of eyeballs for minimal expense.

They can also attract desirable employees: Check out our benefits! See how well we treat our employees! Note how committed we are to the environment! Plus, it’s a useful way to engage potential donors or volunteers who are doing their homework before contributing to your cause.

It’s all there for the whole world to see, yet it still serves as the employee handbook. Expect this to become standard operating procedure for many companies, including nonprofits. The more things change, the more handbooks will need updating. Updating online is simple and inexpensive.

According to a survey conducted in 2020 for People Matters, a media company specializing HR marketing, 57% of employees actually read the employee manual. When asked if they had revised their employee manuals since the pandemic, 69% of HR professionals surveyed said no. How are these unread, outdated handbooks meeting the needs of their companies? The answer is that they aren’t.

When your nonprofit decides to invest time and money to produce an employee handbook, you will find countless resources online that can help, but…

UST understands those needs because we are the leader in the field of nonprofit HR solutions. Through our cloud-based UST HR Workplace, powered by Mineral, we offer on-demand resources and expertise to help create the employee handbook your foundation needs . . . in minutes. UST’s integrated platform of HR tools, templates, and on-demand trainings will ensure that your employee manual meets your standards while maintaining compliance with federal and state law. The platform will alert you whenever a policy or law that can affect your handbook changes. And, you can track employee acknowledgments with built-in electronic signatures. With a subscription to the UST HR Workplace, your handbook will stay current and relevant for your peeps. Request a FREE 60-Day Trial of the UST HR Workplace today!

This blog post was written by Amélie Frank, consulting copywriter to UST. To learn more about Amélie’s professional portfolio you can find her online at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amelie-frank/.

November 08, 2022

Join Us in Welcoming Kristin Maurelia!

UST is very pleased to welcome Kristin Maurelia as our new Director of Strategic Accounts!

Kristin's accomplishments are not easy to summarize. Notably, she was asked to lead a new strategic alliances initiative at the National Association of REALTORS®—the world's largest trade association with over 1.5 million members. Kristin built from inception, a strategy and business unit that grew to over 160 dynamic, creative alliances, including some of the nation's largest companies and strongest brands—ultimately generating more than $100M in association revenue and providing valuable member benefits to the tune of $75M annually.

Driven by genuine curiosity and a commitment to building authentic relationships rooted in integrity, Kristin has forged impactful, long-term partnerships with allies across various industries. With a passion for mission-driven work and a call to community service, Kristin is also an active member of the nonprofit community, serving as a volunteer for Pilot N Paws and Be My Eyes.

Kristin's extensive experience, proven track record, and shared desire to see the nonprofit sector thrive make her a perfect addition to team UST and an ideal ally for our 80+ plus Affinity Partners nationwide. We're very excited to begin UST's next chapter with her at the helm of this vital role in our organization.

November 04, 2022

HR Question: Anxiety and Depression as Disabilities

Question: Are depression and anxiety considered disabilities?

Answer: They can be, yes. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.”

Some examples of major life activities are caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, eating, sleeping, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, such as neurological, brain, and respiratory functions.

Although the condition must “substantially limit” a major life activity, this term is broader than you might think. “Substantially limits” doesn’t mean that the condition has to prevent or significantly restrict a major life activity. Rather, the comparison is between the employee’s level of functioning as compared to most people in the general population. It is not a demanding standard. 

If an employee informs you that they have anxiety or depression and requests an accommodation, you should begin the interactive process. Basically, you and the employee determine what, if anything, can be done to accommodate them so that they can perform the essential functions of their job and have equal benefits and privileges of employment. As part of this conversation, you may require the employee to provide documentation to support their request for an accommodation.

This Q&A was provided by Mineral, powering the UST HR Workplace. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a FREE 60-day trial here. As a UST member, simply log into your Mineral portal to access live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library, and more.

October 27, 2022

Unemployment Fraud and the Risks to Nonprofit

In the midst of the pandemic, unemployment benefit claims skyrocketed—impacting employers across the country with increased fraudulent benefit claims. And the number of reported incidents is staggering—driving up the cost of taxes for nonprofits and causing frustration for both employers and their employees. Nationally, states processed more than one billion unemployment claims in 2020 alone, amounting to over $500 billion in paid benefits. Unemployment systems in nearly every state have been impacted by international and national crime syndicates with 35% of applications being fraudulent.

It's more important than ever that employers carefully review their quarterly charges statements for any discrepancies—specifically for individuals listed as receiving UI benefits who are still actively employed with your nonprofit. By doing so, you not only protect your assets but you also help to protect your employees who are being targeted by these fraudsters.

While government agencies continue to grapple with the theft of millions of dollars through fraudulent UI benefit claims, UST recently compiled over-whelming statistics surrounding UI fraud and the impact on employers to create the 2022 Fraudulent Unemployment Infographic . Discover the overwhelming facts about unemployment fraud and how it can affect your workforce.

Sign up for our monthly eNews to continue receiving helpful insights, how-to-guides, and legal updates specific to nonprofits!

October 21, 2022

Recruiting With Purpose

As talent becomes harder to recruit and retain, some employers have tendered unusual perks to sweeten hiring deals. Can your company compete with the benefits being offered by your for-profit counterparts?

  • Onsite facilities for Botox injections and tanning beds (Chesapeake Energy)
  • Cryo-preserve your entire body after you die (Numerai)
  • Lunchtime surfing with daily surf reports from the reception staff (Patagonia)
  • Free use of the company yachts (JM Family Enterprises)
  • Gender reassignment surgery (Goldman Sachs)
  • For nudists (I am not making this up, I swear), Naked Fridays, a chance to “engage employees and build trust within the team” (onebestway)
  • A 3D-printed model of your head (Innocent Drinks)
  • Flexjobs found one firm that vowed, “We promise not to poke you with a sharp stick.”

Whatever extremes some employers may undertake to lavish their appreciation, it all underscores that human capital is any business’s most important asset.

Whether they are active job seekers or the passive ones keeping an antennae out for anything interesting, an enormous talent pool is in flux. Workers now prowl for jobs with greater learning and growth. Companies need to burnish their reputations to lure in the best and brightest. Fueling this career migration is a desire for purpose. Companies are figuring out that aligning their employer brand with a candidate’s yearning for purpose can entice desirable workers to apply.

Purpose seems like one of those immeasurable intangibles. If you’re a nonprofit lacking funds to offer expensive perks on your employees, how do you snag recruits with a concept? 

The good news is that, as a foundation for good, you already have what it takes.

It All Starts with Purpose

Be it the Preamble to the Constitution, a corporate motto, an employer brand, or a nonprofit’s mission statement, the institutions we’ve built began with a purpose—a compelling reason why. For most companies, the purpose resides with the employer brand. Not to be mistaken for branding elements such as logos, fonts, colors, and other instantly recognizable cues, your employer brand also defines your values and your work culture. It is both a message and a promise, speaking directly to all stakeholders—customers, employees, competitors, and partners. Anyone who encounters it knows precisely what the brand stands for. When Allstate Insurance tells you that “You’re in Good Hands,” you know the brand and its values..

Does a statement of purpose translate into financial success? A Harvard Business School study verified that, over a ten-year period, values-driven companies outperformed non-purposeful ones by a factor of 12 in their stock price. Where purpose is active, performance thrives. Imperative’s 2016 report into workplace purpose revealed that:

  • 85% of purpose-led companies showed growth
  • 42% of non-purpose-led companies showed a drop in revenue

Purposeful organizations succeed due to dedicated employees. To what are they dedicated if not purpose? It takes a company’s purpose to recruit, engage, and retain this kind of talent. The organization does best when its hiring practices align with its purpose and with the purpose of its employees.

Tips for Recruiting with Purpose

Eighty-five percent of US employees said they would stay longer with a socially responsible employer. Here are four practices to help you score top talent.

  1. Showcase purpose from the start.
    Do you understand your nonprofit’s mission?  While every business knows what it does, very few know why. Until you can explain why your company exists, you cannot connect meaningfully with anyone, including your stakeholders. We want to know how the world is better because your nonprofit is in business.
     
  2. Build purpose into recruiting and onboarding.
    State your values and your mission-driven initiatives in all communications. Use your application and interview processes to demonstrate your nonprofit’s reason for existing to candidates. Make sure that job descriptions are free of biases and optimize those hashtags! Don’t just state the requirements of the position. Job descriptions should speak directly to the values of the people you want to hire. Ask yourself if the content is original and fresh if the posts are mission oriented and updated frequently. Include employee presence and participation on your website. Probe interviewees for their purpose. Ask about their goals, values, and the issues they care about most. Ask how they will contribute. In turn, share your personal purpose and how it comes alive for you through your work.
     
  3. Make your Job Board a site with purpose.
    Update your job board to show prospective workers how your new job opening is anchored in your values. Ask yourself: Does our job board inspire prospective talent? Is it user friendly? Does it delineate what we stand for? Does it reveal that we provide opportunities to learn, grow, and contribute? Does it offer behind-the-scenes glimpses of what it’s like to work here? Does it feature the faces and voices of our staff? Are the posts individualized to reflect the uniqueness of each open position? If you can’t answer yes to most of these questions, it’s time to revamp your job board and find a more efficient way to tell your story.
  4. Make your mission real for newbies.
    Give candidates a purpose that motivates them to work for you. Tell them how their efforts can change the world. During onboarding, share stories that bring your purpose alive with videos, testimonials, and employee profiles. Share details about company projects that have positively affected the lives of others. Have employees share what working for your company has meant to them. In everything you do, demonstrate that your company’s purpose is authentic and straight from the heart.

Avoid Poor Employer Branding

Today, 75% of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying for a job. Lousy employer branding can range from an unhappy interview experience to an annoying campaign jingle to a job board that fails to convey what a great place your company is to work or hire. A sour interview experience can wind up as a low rating on Glassdoor, which can damage your reputation and several such reviews can undermine your purpose and your credibility. At a minimum it will certainly discourage promising candidates from applying to work for you.

Your employer brand must always be supported across all departments at your company. Mindful practices of consistent communication, courtesy toward all candidates, and practicing what your mission preaches will protect your ability to shine in this competitive marketplace. It will also sustain your credibility with your employees, preserving both their engagement and retention.

About Remote Workers

Remote work and hybrid workplaces are issues that expose a significant rift between employers and employees. Many employers want their workers back in the office. Many employees don’t want to return to the office. From INC, one in three U.S. workers doesn't want to work for anyone who demands employees be onsite full-time. Another survey by Envoy affirms that nearly half of employees will likely look for another job if their current employer doesn’t offer a hybrid workplace.

Remote discrimination is a problem at hybrid companies as remote employees are excluded from specific perks or advantages enjoyed by those working on-site. To avoid making remote personnel feel unappreciated, companies need clear hybrid working policies.

From Recruitee’s Adrie Smith: “We know there’s a talent shortage in many areas and skills. In fact, 78% of HR managers said that most skills will become even more niche in the next ten years. This statistic alone has led many recruiters to look for candidates further afield. And for hiring teams to consider remote employees.”

Fortunately, she assures, new tools emerge daily to help workplaces connect with distant candidates. Below are some remote hiring guiding principles.

Video interviewing is a core skill. Take the time to master the technology, overcome glitches, and develop the social graces involved in virtual face-to-face meetings.

Elongate the hiring process. Give yourself every opportunity to get to know your candidate better.

Prioritize collaborative hiring. Involve your team in the hiring process. Focus on the candidate’s skills, personality, and experience.

Mind your job promotion platforms. Certain types of remote talent will spend their time on different platforms, communicate in different ways, and respond to different kinds of job outreach. Whether on your site, social media, or job board, your remote job description should . . .

  • Accurately describe the remote policy. Not every remote situation is the same. Some offices are “remote first,” “remote-friendly,” or “hybrid.”
  • Explain why a particular position or certain teams are remote if you still have employees working in an office.
  • Communicate any logistics requirements that result from remote work. You may need to have remote workers living or working in a certain time zone or to be flexible to travel to headquarters each month.
  • Summarize your communication culture. Candidates should know what to expect regarding communication and collaboration. This will weed out people unprepared to collaborate in a hyper-communicative environment.

If you want to staff your organization with the best people, take the money you are using for workplace perks and invest it in purposeful hiring. In return, you'll have more time to focus on your products and profits.

By 2035, the labor majority will be Gen Z workers. Many of them will be replacing the workers who opted to be fully cryo-frozen over at Numerai.

This blog post was written by Amélie Frank, consulting copywriter to UST. To learn more about Amélie’s professional portfolio you can find her online at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amelie-frank/.

October 14, 2022

2022 HR Compliance Toolkit

Human Resources departments play an important role in the overall success of an organization. One critical function is ensuring compliance by adhering to state and federal regulations which can influence organizational sustainability. To help nonprofit employers streamline strategies that can help to protect your most valuable assets—we've created the 2022 HR Compliance Toolkit.

This free toolkit includes an involuntary termination checklist, strategies to address unemployment fraud, tips for managing unemployment compensation and more:

  1. Best Practice Tips for Unemployment Compensation
  2. Misconduct vs. Poor Performance
  3. Things You Can Do To Help Prevent Retaliation Claims
  4. Ways to Minimize Your Unemployment Costs
  5. The Essential Interview Checklist
  6. An Introduction to Employee Benefits
  7. Involuntary Termination Checklist
  8. Exit Interview Checklist
  9. Addressing Unemployment Fraud in the Workplace
  10. [Webinar Recording] Nonprofit HR Compliance: How to Avoid Critical Oversights

To access more HR-specific articles, templates and checklists, you can sign up for a FREE 60-Day Trial of UST HR Workplace today! You'll also gain access to live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, and a virtual compliance library.

October 07, 2022

HR Question: Keeping a Remote Workforce Engaged

Question: We’ve transitioned to a remote-first workforce. How can we keep our employees and managers engaged with video meetings and messaging apps—especially those employees that are missing the social aspects of working together physically?

Answer: Even with video conferencing and messaging apps, fully involving remote employees in team and company meetings remains a challenge. There may be no replacing the experience of being physically in the room, but you can take steps to make these meetings more productive and inclusive. 

The most important thing to remember when “meeting” with remote employees is that you can’t conduct the meeting in the same way as you normally do when everyone is physically present. You have to find a way to replace the advantages that close proximity has, especially the ease of reading body language and picking up social cues. These, unfortunately, do not translate well over the screen or the phone. So, what can you do? 

What remote employees need to fully participate in meetings is space and time to speak. You can provide this space and time in a few ways. First, if there are some physically present participants, ask them to pause for a second before jumping into the conversation. This gives remote employees time to get a word in, plus it helps counter any time delays caused by the conferencing technology. Second, whoever is leading the meeting should regularly invite remote employees to add anything if they have something to say, preferably before moving on in the agenda. Third, when possible, have a remote employee lead the meeting or a section on the agenda. This focuses attention on the remote speakers and can help remind everyone that the meeting isn’t just happening in the physical room. Finally, if a group of remote employees are located in the same workspace, occasionally setting their site as the physical meeting space can help your non-remote employees get a feel for the challenges of being remote during a meeting.

Some preliminary work before the meeting can also help make the meeting itself more efficient. First, test any systems ahead of time so that they’re working for everyone when the meeting starts. Second, email the agenda out so everyone knows what to expect. Third, assign someone in the meeting room to be the contact person that remote employees can email or message if they have questions, concerns, or issues. 

After the meeting, check in with any remote employees and ask them to be candid about their experience. What worked well and what could be improved? See what you can do to accommodate them in the next meeting. 

You may not be able to fully replicate the experience of physically being in the room but taking these steps can enable remote employees to feel more involved and make the meeting itself run more smoothly.

This Q&A was provided by Mineral, powering the UST HR Workplace. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a FREE 60-day trial here. As a UST member, simply log into your Mineral portal to access live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library, and more.

September 30, 2022

[Webinar Recording] UST Live: Succession Planning and Preparedness

In the latest rendition of UST Live, we were joined by thought leaders from across the U.S. with expertise in succession planning. Guest moderator, Jennifer Hutchins from the Maine Association of Nonprofits, lead the conversation as the group discussed how organizations nationwide are experiencing a shift in the workforce as employees seek out other opportunities. Whether a transition occurs due to an unexpected vacancy or the anticipated departure of a long-tenured leader, it's vital that nonprofits have a succession plan in place to ensure organizational sustainability.

The group also discussed why proactively addressing how your leadership needs will evolve in the future and identifying activities to strengthen leadership capacity can help create the resiliency and agility an organization needs to thrive.

Watch now to discover:

  • Succession planning as a risk management strategy
  • Common mistakes to avoid when preparing for succession planning
  • How to encourage development and training that cultivates leaders from within

Upcoming UST Live Webinars: This webinar series was designed to equip nonprofits with the strategies and resources they need to survive (and thrive) in a constantly evolving environment. Be on the lookout for future UST Live sessions—scheduled for November.

September 23, 2022

The Do’s and Don’ts of Difficult Conversations

If you want to be an effective leader, you must have strong communications skills and a good amount of composure. In today's workforce, the only thing that separates one leader from the next, is how they communicate, handle conflict, and lead. Being a team leader can be an incredibly rewarding role but it comes with its challenges. And while handling difficult conversations may be the least appealing part of managing employees, it's an important part of leadership that every manager should be prepared for—whether it's about poor performance, attendance, peer conflict, or behavioral issues, these conversations are ultimately inevitable in any workplace dynamic.

It's common for defenses to be high when having a difficult conversation, so it's imperative that you have a plan for when they come about. Prepare ahead of time and pick a neutral time when it's calm. Go into the conversation with an open mind and ready to listen. It takes a nanosecond to invoke defensiveness—employees may respond with a blank stare, a passive sigh, or even an angry rebuttal so be clear and concise, using non-defensive communication while also being professional and friendly in nature. Poor communication can affect morale, performance goals, and sales so take some time to ensure you know the facts and have a plan for whatever response you may get.

Below are some do's and don'ts on how to effectively (and respectfully) navigate difficult conversations in the workplace while maintaining morale, fostering trust, and maximizing productivity.

  • Do think about what you want to say and how you'll say it—come prepared to have a productive conversation.
  • Do sort out the facts beforehand and ensure you have documentation to support everything.
  • Do create an environment of trust and honesty.
  • Do use active listening and allow your employee time to provide feedback and ask questions.
  • Do put yourself in their shoes and seek to understand what they're feeling—defensive, embarrassed, etc.
  • Do allow your employee to feel emotions and ensure you're sensitive to their feelings.
  • Do find a solution together—establish actionable items that both you and your employee are clear about.
  • Do ask for confirmation at the end of the conversation to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • Do keep the lines of communication open and make it a point to check in on your employee in the weeks following your conversation.
  • Don't procrastinate having the conversation—a lack of action on your part can make things worse.
  • Don't have a difficult conversation where others can possibly overhear—ensure your employee feels safe.
  • Don't dance around the issue. Be as explicit as possible.
  • Don't let professionalism overpower humanity.
  • Don't begin with the end in mind. Consistently consider your employee's perspective which can help provide a complete understanding of the problem.
  • Don't start the conversation in an accusatory fashion—avoid using "you" statements and instead focus on the behavior being addressed.
  • Don't be dismissive of your employee's feelings.
  • Don't make assumptions or jump to conclusions—there may be circumstances at hand that you are unaware of.
  • Don't let your emotions get the best of you—difficult conversations are often over sensitive topics which can cause employees to respond defensively.

Difficult conversations can be awkward and unpleasant but with some thoughtful tactics in your back pocket, you can successfully address a tough situation and find effective solutions to whatever issues may arise while also ensuring you maintain respect with your team.  

September 21, 2022

How to Improve Communication Strategies with Your Team

Working on a team requires more than just hard work, morale amongst co-workers, and willingness to work with others. The most important yet often ignored that attributes to a team’s success is effective communication. Communication is a vital part of any business environment—especially a nonprofit organization since many employees wear multiple hats—as it facilitates a consistent flow of information. When it comes to team communication, the purpose of interacting among co-workers is to share information that is essential to achieving organization goals. In addition, good communication makes it easy for team members to coordinate with one another effectively.

An organization’s communication strategy usually consists of techniques that encourage open communication and effective teamwork in a workplace environment. Having an action plan in place for your organization can help to improve your communication skills, work on team building, and executive tasks efficiently. This kind of proactive leadership is even more important today, given the rise of remote teams and virtual collaboration.

Here's just a few of the many benefits that result from an effective communication strategy:

1) Supports Employee Engagement: Effective communication in the workplace increases employee morale and engagement by helping team members feel connected to the work they’re doing and the organization their working for. Thoughtful team-building activities can also help nurture communication skills, which improves camaraderie and employee engagement. Increasing employee engagement can lead to reduced turnover, a better customer experience, and even increased profitability

2) Helps with Productivity: Inefficient work habits or missed project deadlines are almost always the result of poor workplace communication skills. By using effective communication strategies, you can be clearer about expectations and ultimately get the results you need to deliver projects in a timely manner.

3) Opens Up Doors for Innovation Opportunities: An environment of open communication in the workplace fosters creative problem solving, more adventurous ideas, and out-of-the-box thinking. It helps you create space for innovation by fostering a “no bad ideas” attitude and encouraging your team to try new things—even if those projects don’t work out as anticipated. Making space to learn from different collaboration styles can really expand the possibilities for your organization.

Effective communication in the workplace might sound straightforward but it’s about so much more than having a simple conversation—especially when not everyone communicates the same way. You need to be intentional and use the right strategies that provide diverse opportunities for both formal and informal communications across the organization. By employing communications strategies that foster open communication and collaboration, you can build an organization full of employees who are engaged, efficient, and innovative. And that’s the kind of team that makes an organization successful and most importantly, support the communities you serve.

September 08, 2022

HR Question: Banning Personal Electronics

Question: Can I ban cell phones at work? How about audio and video recordings?

Answer: This question has brought up issues that have been the subject of recent litigation, so it's a great time to be asking.

To answer your first question: yes, you can limit or even prohibit use of cell phones during work hours. Employees can be expected to give their undivided attention to the work you pay them to perform, and if that means cell phones need to be turned off or put away, you are entitled to make this request. However, employees should be allowed to use cell phones during their break and meal periods, as this time needs to be truly their own in order to satisfy the requirements of state law. Fair warning: if you attempt to prohibit cell phone use during all non-break time, you may receive some fairly aggressive push back. A more lenient policy may do the trick. Typical standard language says, "Personal cell phone use should be kept to a reasonable limit during working hours. Reasonableness will be determined by your manager." This language gives your managers considerable discretion, but they should be trained to use the same standard of reasonableness for all employees to avoid claims of discrimination.

To answer your second question: no, audio, video, and photography cannot be strictly prohibited, but they can be limited. The National Labor Relations Board, which enforces the National Labor Relations Act, has said that employers cannot outright prohibit recordings as this could interfere with employees' ability to organize with respect to their terms and conditions of employment. For instance, employees might choose to record a conversation during their lunch hour related to asking for raises and want to share that recording with employees who work different shifts. This would need to be allowed. However, you can still have a policy that prevents recording (via audio, video, or photograph) confidential information, such as proprietary business practices, customer lists, client or patient information, or employees' personal information. Be aware that you cannot deem all information confidential, e.g. "all conversations in the office" or "anything related to customer/patient care." 

If you feel it is important to have such a policy, you may say something like, "Audio and video recording devices, including cameras and smartphones, may not be used to record or capture any confidential information, whether it is proprietary business information or clients' or employees' confidential personal information. If recording non-confidential information, e.g. taking photos of colleagues, please seek the consent of all parties to the recording." A policy like this can be added to your handbook during your next handbook review, or if you feel the need is urgent, you can distribute it to all employees now and have them sign an acknowledgment form. 

This Q&A was provided by Mineral, powering the UST HR Workplace. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a FREE 60-day trial here. As a UST member, simply log into your Mineral portal to access live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library, and more.

August 26, 2022

Offer Development to Groom Current (and Future) Leaders

Leadership development is an attractive benefit that is becoming commonplace in the current job market. About half of Millennials expect their company to help pay for leadership training, and 60% say they'd prefer a job that provides professional development over one that provides regular pay raises.

How Know-How Helps

First, employees want to gain mastery over current job and life challenges. But then, one in five will leave their current position in search of a job that provides additional professional development opportunities. Nearly a third of workers say education would help them feel more engaged and loyal. Yet fewer than half of businesses offer leadership training. Even fewer offer mentoring or career counseling. Think about offering all that with these four levels of staff development.

  • On-the-job training. Hands-on, informal and unstructured, make use of available resources.
  • Training and Development. Professional, expert and targeted instruction.
  • Capability development. Organizational focus to benefit your workplace culture.
  • Talent and performance training. Offered as part of a benefit program in career development.

Try to make education an ongoing process with multiple built-in opportunities. On-the-job training can be the most cost-effective approach for smaller organizations. Coaching fosters teamwork and saves funds by working internally. Leadership education is important to succession planning as well as retention. Whatever their path, give employees the opportunity to practice and implement the skills and knowledge they have gained.

Leadership Realities

In the past, businesses had two ways of moving people up to leadership levels: Climbing the ladder through promotions or following a career path that included educational leadership development. Today's post-recession workers feel the need to protect their careers from further economic downturns by staying employed where they can receive training and development. In a tight market, you should expect to include some training in their benefits package. The best practice for this situation is to make an effort to align their leadership development with the anticipated needs of your nonprofit.

Your nonprofit might be overdue in training new leaders. Baby Boomers who started organizations decades ago are retiring or preparing to retire from their leadership positions. Add to that, about half of current young professionals will leave the nonprofit sector. If you're facing an upcoming leadership crisis, by all means focus on leadership training. Your workforce will enjoy a successful career path, and your nonprofit will benefit from well-trained leaders who know how to take your organization forward.

Development 101: Begin Simply

One of the best ways to offer career development is to build leadership skills through practical hands-on experience. It will help your managerial staff to know their organization well so encourage managers to delegate and coach where needed in order to build a list of success stories. Some cost-effective ideas to start you in the process include:

  • Team leadership. Team members organize and run a meeting or event.
  • Communication. Employees present verbal reports at a monthly meeting or create material for an internal newsletter.
  • Volunteer leadership. They're in charge of coaching volunteers to assist with a fundraiser or other campaign.
  • Project ownership. Employees manage projects, such as appreciation events or redesigning your website.

A Sensible Approach

While you're considering how to best juggle all the possible educational benefits, take a pragmatic look at the costs. There's a simple formula you can use to maximize educational effectiveness without breaking the budget. The Center for Creative Leadership promotes a cost-effective model for leadership development that you should consider:

  • Begin with 70% on-the-job learning
  • Add 20% coaching and mentoring
  • Round it out with 10% formal training

Many nonprofits fail to follow this guiding principle and the result is often an unfocused, unsuccessful training program that does little more than pay lip service to the idea of leadership development.

Make Mentoring Happen

Do your managers notice emerging leaders in their teams? You can design a formal mentoring program or keep it informal, as you see fit. Make sure they have a safe space to learn so that they can accelerate learning. Allow time during work for mentoring sessions. If your nonprofit cannot support an internal mentoring program, you may be able to partner with other local organizations and businesses for potential mentors. Resources include the Aspire Foundation, which provides global, free online mentoring to women working in nonprofits. Search online to find the numerous mentor-training resources available.

Affording Formal Training

As you know, finding adequate funds for your training initiatives can be a challenge. There are ways to leap past those hurdles. Here are some possible means of funding formal leadership development in your nonprofit:

  • Nontraditional grants. Check online for the specific kind of training you want funded. Taproot Foundation provides service grants in some cities.
  • Free and Low-Cost Online Classes. Some valuable opportunities await online, such as the SBA's and SCORE's free online training on business topics and other online courses offered through organizations such as FutureLearn, Coursera and +Acumen.
  • Local colleges or universities. Some schools still allow people to audit classes.
  • Connect with Corporations. Your corporate partners might be willing to invite your staff to join their development trainings for free or low cost.
  • Pull from your board of directors. Form a board committee to focus on leadership development training.

Funds spent on leadership training provide high returns on investment (ROI). And this ROI isn't just fiscal. It's a great way to increase your mission impact, bring in higher revenues, control costs and provide for greater stability as you build employee loyalty. Strengthen your training programs to focus on success in achieving leadership roles, and employees will stay as they reach for the heights of leadership succession.

Logic Dictates

A recent study showed that only a third of nonprofit executives rose through the ranks of their organization. If two-thirds of nonprofits are having to hire executives from outside, that suggests they lack appropriate leadership development. They may even be neglecting larger strategic issues. The results of this lack of focused strategy means that nonprofits are not rising to meet the challenge of diversifying their leadership in race, ethnicity, or educational background. It's critical that they improve their ability to groom talent from within.

You may experience push-back from an executive who doesn't want to dedicate resources to leadership development. The truth is, some leaders dislike the idea of training their replacements. It makes them feel that their time is coming to an end. If that's true in your nonprofit's case, you will need to explain that a strong leader is someone who prepares for the inevitable, which includes future changes. It will likely help if your organization's board of directors makes succession planning a part of the job description for all executives. A legacy can be ruined by leadership succession that is ill-planned. Instead, your executive has the opportunity to make an enduring mark on your organization by leaving it in capable hands.

And, often, the best way to do this is to promote from within.

This is an excerpt from UST’s eBook, “Innovative Strategies That Overcome Nonprofit Retention Barriers” in collaboration with Beth Black, Writer and Editor.

August 22, 2022

Upskilling and Reskilling Your Nonprofit Workforce

As a nonprofit leader, when it comes to the future of your workforce, focusing on skills is an essential step. However, many upskilling strategies are missing the mark. The confusion often starts with a lack of understanding the difference between upskilling, reskilling and cross-skilling—the lines tend to blur and identifying the role of each will better equip your organization to prepare for the future of work. While both upskilling and reskilling are about learning new skills, the context for each is a bit different. Upskilling is focused on helping employees become more knowledgeable and develop new competencies that relate to their current position while reskilling is about equipping workers to switch lanes and move into new roles within your organization. Cross-skilling is the process of developing skills that are valuable across multiple functions.

There’s no denying that upskilling and reskilling initiatives require a significant investment, in both money and time. Superior approaches generally include both compelling content as part of a Learning and Development (L&D) curriculum, as well as experimental opportunities such as mentoring and projects. Given the effort upskilling and reskilling require, some might wonder if it might just be easier to prioritize external hiring. While it might sound like a simpler strategy on the surface, turning to new talent won’t solve your skill-building concerns. Even if your organization manages to recruit employees with the necessary skills, these recruits will need to build new capabilities in the future. Since the pace of change is accelerating, offering opportunities for upskilling and reskilling has become unavoidable this day in age.

When determining the best form of training for your employees, it can depend on the permanency of their positions. It would be a poor use of resources to invest in the professional development of an employee whose role is becoming obsolete. Upskilling tends to benefit positions that can easily evolve with the organization, while reskilling is perfect for helping employees of changing departments get ready for entirely new workplace obligations. Organizations that are content with their current staff can use upskilling to continuously help their employees develop their qualifications without reassigning them a different position. You can help support your staff grow as professionals by providing them with enriching training opportunities while maintain an effective forward-thinking team in the workplace. 

Taking into account the skill set of your team, your organization can then determine if a particular employee will remain in their current position or if their capabilities will be more beneficial in another area of the organization. Staff members who exceed the organization’s expectations in their department and have proved to be excellent leaders should undergo reskilling to prepare them for a promotion. Where a promotion isn’t an option, perhaps they could make a lateral move, in which their salary and hierarchy stay the same but their position changes. Employees who would benefit from honing their existing abilities can do so through upskilling programs.

Upskilling and reskilling your professionals will have significant impact on their careers. Offering either form of training to an employee can develop their professional skills and position them as a valuable member of your organization. Businesses that understand the benefits of both processes will help their employees find success in whichever position and responsibilities they undertake.

August 12, 2022

HR Question: Managing Remote Employees

Question: What are effective ways to manage remote employees and monitor their work? 

Answer: Managing remote employees can certainly be a challenge. Here are some of the practices we recommend: 

  • Set measurable goals around quality of work. Whether employees get their work done to your satisfaction is more important to your bottom line than whether they’re always at their workstation. Make all the resources necessary for employees to do their jobs remotely easily available. These may include phones, computers, extra monitors, video conferencing software, and instant messaging apps. If you need employees to have fast internet speeds, consider subsidizing the necessary costs. 
  • Create and communicate a work-from-home policy so everyone knows what’s expected of them.
  • Talk regularly with employees about what’s working well and not-so-well. Encourage them to reach out to HR or a manager if remote work is causing any difficulties or challenges.  
  • Hold all meetings virtually, even if some people are working in a company office, so everyone is equally able to participate. This means having employees who are in the workplace login from their individual computers and not be in the same room as their other in-office colleagues during the meeting. 
  • Promote a good work-life balance by making sure remote employees know when their workday ends. It’s very easy for employees working at home to spend more time working than they would in an office environment.

This Q&A was provided by Mineral, powering the UST HR Workplace. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a FREE 60-day trial here. As a UST member, simply log into your Mineral portal to access live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library, and more.

August 03, 2022

Addressing Burnout & Compassion Fatigue In Nonprofit Employees

             

Nonprofit workers strive to make the world a better place. However, these passionate professionals often face long working hours, limited resources, funding deficiencies and an unrelenting stream of other on-the-job challenges. All this and more can lead to employee burnout, as well as nonprofit compassion fatigue.

How can nonprofit employees of all levels better address such difficulties and avoid becoming overly strained? Below are some actionable ideas to help prevent employee burnout and work toward a healthier work-life balance.

First, what is nonprofit compassion fatigue and what does it look like? Referred to at times as secondary trauma or vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue is a way to describe the excessive stress affecting those exposed to the traumatic suffering of others leading to desensitization, indifference or apathy. When untreated, it could lead to exhaustion, irritability, reduced productivity and absenteeism, along with physical and mental health problems.

Essentially, compassion fatigue means that a person working continuously under strenuous conditions no longer feels able to care about the people they serve. Often, these individuals get to this point by minimizing their own suffering. In fact, industry reports have found that 62% of people who engage in emotional work tend to hide their personal feelings. Combine this with being buried in work and these people can easily develop feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.

Over time, this not only affects an employee’s health and relationships, but it can significantly impact employee retention. A 2021 study found that 69% of participants believe their organizations are understaffed. Chronic staffing issues ultimately whittle away at a nonprofit's ability to achieve objectives.

What can leaders and HR professionals do to address compassion fatigue and burnout? It starts by implementing a strategy designed to promote a healthy work culture. Everyone should be encouraged to capitalize on vacation time, lunch breaks and time off-the-clock to de-stress from the important work they are striving to accomplish. Leaders should also establish and enforce reasonable work hours.

Another way to help address arduous workloads is to create a prioritization system for projects and tasks. While the job market is understandably in flux, efforts should be made to hire more staff or recruit additional volunteer support.

Lastly, open the door to enhanced communication strategies. Extend genuine thanks to the staff and encourage honest feedback, anonymous or otherwise. Not only are these methods more sustainable, but, in the end, they can generate greater employee engagement, retention and job satisfaction.

For employees, to avoid becoming burnt out and feeling powerless, it’s advised to utilize vacation time and take regular breaks. By “unplugging” during the day — even if it’s only a short break — it’s possible to reduce stress, gain perspective and feel more in control. Also, learn to say “no” without feeling guilty. Setting clear boundaries on messaging after hours, task delegation and more could do wonders for future productivity.

To learn more about combating nonprofit employee burnout, please see the accompanying resource.

Resources:

https://www.qgiv.com/blog/how-to-overcome-nonprofit-burnout-and-compassion-fatigue/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2020/01/24/how-to-avoid-compassion-fatigue-care-for-your-staff-so-they-can-care-for-the-world/?sh=ffa58b276f88

https://hashtagnonprofit.org/index.php/resources/mentalhealth/355-recognising-compassion-fatigue-in-the-npo-workplace

https://www.missionbox.com/article/98/combating-compassion-fatigue-finding-balance-in-the-nonprofit-workplace

https://www.keela.co/blog/nonprofit-resources/3-leading-causes-of-nonprofit-burnout

https://www.idealist.org/en/careers/recognizing-compassion-fatigue-helping-professions


July 21, 2022

Five Tips for Successfully Leading a Hybrid Workforce

A major shift has been underway, fundamentally altering, when, where, and how work occurs. As organizations adjust to today’s new hybrid workplace, collaboration among team members who aren’t co-located is emerging as the primary way to get things done. This way of working brings new opportunities—along with new uncertainties and challenges—for those leading the hybrid workforce. Effective hybrid workplace leadership requires building cohesion among colleagues working together from different locations, fending off burnout, being intentional about inclusion, and strengthen shared culture.

The nonprofit workforce has evolved in ways no one could have foreseen, and leaders continue to adapt to a changing management style. Forced to re-invent not just how they worked, but where, many are embracing hybrid teams—a blended model of in-person and remote workers. For some leaders, the shift to managing hybrid teams is a radical departure from business as usual but with the right use of technology, strong communication, and clear expectations, hybrid teams can be highly effective. Nonprofit leaders can utilize UST's 5 Tips for Successfully Leading a Hybrid Workforce to ensure productivity and engagement. These essential tips include:

  1. Communication is the key to success
  2. Prioritize team building activities and celebrate successes
  3. Create opportunities for collaboration
  4. Provide what they need to succeed

The pressure is on leaders to find innovative solutions to make hybrid teams happy and productive as the hybrid model can be more complicated than a fully remote team. Take this opportunity to pay close attention to your team and continue to find ways to address their unique position. To successfully manage a hybrid workforce, leaders must create processes, build trust, and ensure a strong shared experience across all teams. Sign up for our monthly eNews to continue receiving helpful insights, how-to-guides, and legal updates specific to nonprofits!

July 15, 2022

Hire and Develop Managers People Want to Work For

As of early 2020, the nonprofit employment sector is reported to be the third largest in the nation, following manufacturing and retail. Job statistics will no doubt remain unsteady in the next few years, as unfolding events put these employers at risk. Beyond catastrophic demands placed on them for services, a lot of nonprofits also had to deal with financial losses caused by the pandemic. The result is that you are likely dealing with the ramifications caused the Great Resignation, not to mention facing financial challenges in hiring right-fit people for your organization. One important way to attract more qualified candidates — and retain them — is to hire managers who support and sustain their teams.

Recognize Your Challenges

Have you done all you can to assure that every manager in your organization has the temperament and training to effectively run a department without alienating staff? The challenges you face can be daunting. You may be forced to offer lower compensation for longer work hours. Additionally, slow progress toward your mission’s goals can weaken your employees’ resolve to stay. So, while burnout might be a problem, your bigger challenge might be finding enough qualified candidates who are inspired by your mission.

Specific skills can be taught in most cases, or an inventive employee might come up with smart ideas to improve your processes. Also, consider work and life experience, because in an often-gritty world, your organization could draw strength from people who have life lessons to share. Contract workers can transition into excellent full-time employees. The one common denominator they must all have is passion. Be sure to ask for their story. Find out what happened that brought them to your office and you might be impressed by what you hear.

Manage Your Talent

You want the right person for the job. You can also find the right job for the person. Either way, you should consider the following guidelines to boost your success over the long haul:

  • Think Future. If you’ve thought about where you want your nonprofit to be in 5 years, you need to give equal time to what workforce you’ll require. You can’t grow your own expanding workforce. Eventually, there will be specific skills that require significant training, so now is the time to strategize what you will need in the future and how you will attract, hire and retain that talent. Include soft skills, such as drive, trainability and emotional intelligence to build a smart, driven, adaptable team.
  • Take a Second Look. While building a candidate pipeline from external sources is good for your organization, you should also give current staff members a fair chance to move up in the organization. Help diverse team members rise into management roles. You’ll benefit with leaders who know about the culture. And you’ll also build employee engagement when others see upward mobility happening.
  • Follow the Numbers. Always design a job with clear performance goals, so that the person in that role can be evaluated easily by others.
  • Orchestrate Your Teams. Like a symphony conductor, you need to put together teams that work well in a collective setting with more productive results.

Your Managers

As individuals, companies, industries and nations work to rebuild after upheaval, workers need a paycheck, of course. But along with that, they need a strong sense of purpose and opportunity. When they feel that, your staff members will engage, perform, commit to staying and seeing your nonprofit through challenges that lie ahead. The only way to ensure that dedication and loyalty in workers is to provide them with leadership that supports their efforts, trusts them to perform and guides them toward future successes.

Make sure your managers:

  • Motivate each team member with a compelling mission and vision. Beyond your organization’s mission and vision, how about each team? If your nonprofit provides housing for homeless people, does your marketing team have a mission and vision of their own to share the message?
  • Assert themselves to overcome adversity and resistance. How does a manager help team members with their problems? What energy does a great manager put forth to support each team member’s success?
  • Create clear accountability. Does everyone understand what’s expected and what they must do to succeed? Is there honest follow-through? Or is there favoritism? Does the manager encourage a team spirit that supports everyone pulling together for the success of every project?
  • Build relationships based on trust, dialogue and transparency. Do the managers encourage pay equity and transparency? Do they have the ability to communicate and trust their team members?
  • Make decisions based on productivity, not politics. Do your managers choose people and projects that work or are they unable to control office politics on their team? Can they protect team members from organizational politics and lead everyone to the greater good?

Additionally, here are five core qualities that every management candidate should possess. Whether you’re promoting from within or seeking someone new, make sure to look for someone who:

  • Listens. You want a leader who takes the time to hear about issues and come up with solutions.
  • Mentors. Most managers possess a veritable wealth of experience and expertise, but it’s critical to find someone who is eager and capable of sharing it with staff.
  • Empowers. Find a manager who offers workers the power to make their own decisions. This builds engagement and employee development.
  • Leads by Example. Smart, honest, big-hearted, hardworking and open-minded leaders will inspire their team to behave the same way.
  • Has Their Back. When workers feel respected and protected by their manager, they’ll be more interested in working harder and smarter to achieve team goals.

Take the opportunity to review your leadership development options and implement what you need to develop managers who have these qualities and can prioritize this kind of conduct. Strong, appropriate leadership is an urgent need, and equipping future leaders with these critical skills will help to assure your nonprofit meets the demands of the future.

Acing the Interview

Success in an interview is often talked about from the perspective of a candidate. But the truth is, the interviewer should design a session that illuminates qualities of the candidate, teases out relevant details and helps the team make a decision.

Prepare questions that can bring out specifics. Instead of “yes/no” questions, ask about issues and strategies a candidate might devise to help her teamwork through them. To learn, for example, if a potential manager would have their backs, you might ask what that person would do if a team member admitted making a mistake. What would they do? Would they take away the project and finish it on time? Would they work through the mistake together with the employee to fix it? Listen for their answers to understand how they might succeed or fail with respect to the traits listed above.

Once all blind interviews have been conducted, allow yourself to cautiously acknowledge general first impressions on finally meeting a new candidate. Does that person make eye contact? Greet others with a smile?

Lose Your Implicit Bias

You want to trust your “gut feeling” about a candidate, but the truth is that you must do so with caution. Implicit bias happens when you allow stereotypes and preformed attitudes to affect your actions on a subconscious level. It can make you misread your emotional responses to a person you don’t know. We are all hardwired to prefer people who are similar in some ways, so it’s important to pay attention at every step in the process and take action to remove implicit bias, as much as possible.

Take steps to control it by asking yourself these questions as you work through your hiring process:

  • Is your job description limiting your responses? The words you use reflect your employer brand messaging, so choose them carefully. A word like “driven” could alienate potential female candidates who might see it as too masculine.
  • Do you speak with people before you see them? One small step toward fair initial impressions would be to conduct a phone interview first. Listen intently to the content of their answers; Anything else, such as tone, pitch, accents, even regional articulation, should be unimportant.
  • Have I assigned a writing task? Prior to an in-person interview, ask a candidate to write a 500-word essay presenting ideas to respond to a strategic issue. Then, you can weigh their responses without the bias of visual or vocal stereotypes.

If, after you’ve gone through a thorough vetting and interviewing process, removing as much implicit bias as possible, you still feel some nagging doubts about a person, then try to understand why you feel that way. Ask other team members for their input and find out if they have the same reaction. And try not to rush the process. At some point, you will have to make a decision. Make it your best possible effort.

Ultimate Interview Tips

Escape the trap of the traditional interview by using a little imagination. Consider these three principles to gain a clearer picture of the person you’re interviewing:

  1. Creativity Counts. Challenge your candidates with unusual questions and allow them to show you who they really are. Ask questions like: What is your natural strength? What qualities of your parents do you like the most? The reasons they give for their answers can tell you a lot about their level of self-awareness, their ability to fit a role and their ability to evolve beyond their current skills.
  2. Up for a Challenge? Design a situation that elicits their managerial behaviors. Have them guide a team to make a quick project and watch what happens. Can they provide steps for a committee to draw an unnamed object (such as a tree)? How’s their attitude?
  3. Go Team! Make the manager’s potential team part of the hiring team. Will they trust this person, understand instructions and feel confident in their ability to make progress on projects together? Will they be able to learn from this person? Let them express concerns.

Beyond the Interview

These days, it’s easy enough to check any candidate’s social media profiles as well as their references. If you can arrange extra reference checks in addition to those provided by the candidate, you’ll probably learn more. Be sure to ask about their behavior under stress as well as how that person worked with others. And remember, what that person has accomplished, what goals they’ve reached and challenges they’ve overcome, really do matter more.

This is an excerpt from UST’s eBook, “Workforce Management Tactics that Strengthen Nonprofit Brands” in collaboration with Beth Black, Writer and Editor.

July 08, 2022

HR Question: Ensuring Your Online Training Strategies Are Effective

Question: How can we make sure our online trainings are effective?

Answer: Online trainings can be a useful tool for developing talent, but they can also end up being a waste of time and resources, even if the content and presentation are good. The difference between effective and ineffective training often comes down to whether employees are able to absorb and retain the information they receive.

There are lot of obstacles to absorption and retention of trainings. Busy employees may listen to a webinar while they work on other things, catching only tidbits here and there. Or they may put a training video off until they’ve finished a project and are too exhausted to give it due attention.

To avoid these training pitfalls, consider these three tips:

Follow the AGES Model. The NeuroLeadership Institute argues that we learn quickly and retain information best when we focus on one topic (attention), actively connect what we learn to what we already know (generation), experience positive feelings while learning (emotion), and space our intake of information (spacing). For example, cramming training on multiples topics into a tight two-day workshop would be much less effective than spreading that training out over a few weeks. You can learn more about the AGES Model here

Give employees time to reflect and practice the skills they’ve learned. In some professions, like music and athletics, you spend most of your work time learning, building, and reinforcing skills before the big performance, whether it’s a concert, game, or race. Good performance necessitates constant practice. But in most professions, practice seems like a luxury you can’t afford because you’re expected to be performing during your work time. This is one reason trainings fail to deliver results. To master new skills, employees need time to focus on building those skills. That means some work time needs to be set aside post-training for them to reflect on and practice what they’ve learned.

Align trainings with the present needs and future goals of both the company and the employee. When assessing employee training goals, consider what additional knowledge and skills would enable them to do their jobs better now, but also set them up for success in their future careers. Employees are more likely to be excited by and personally invested in their training if they understand their personal return on that investment. If they don’t recognize its value, it won’t have any value to them.

This Q&A was provided by Mineral, powering the UST HR Workplace. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a FREE 60-day trial here. As a UST member, simply log into your Mineral portal to access live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library, and more.

June 30, 2022

Celebrate Success in the Workplace to Increase Engagement

Without the staff to support your mission-driven initiatives nonprofits across the globe wouldn’t exist. Recognition plays a huge role in employee satisfaction and job longevity so it’s imperative that you implement strategies that work solely to create an employee experience that keeps employees engaged, productive and loyal. Employers who take steps to celebrate successes—professional and personal-- while also encouraging employees to celebrate each other create a positive work environment where employees are happy.

There are many ways to celebrate and recognize employees that aren’t the obvious award ceremony. It’s important to consider your employees’ preferences for recognition as some people don’t enjoy being the center of attention but may not mind receiving recognition via email vs. in person. Using a short survey to get a feel for how everyone prefers to be celebrated and what kinds of rewards they’d like can go a long way in making sure your efforts don’t fall flat. The last thing you want to do is embarrass anyone you’re trying to celebrate or praise. It might take a little more effort to personalize your recognition program but in the long run it will be well worth the time spent surveying employees to better understand personalities.

Celebrating successes not only improves morale but it can also help to boost confidence, decrease absenteeism and strengthen your organization’s reputation. Discover some of the ways UST celebrates its employees in our 5 Creative Ways to Celebrate Your Team and add them to your employee engagement initiatives. Having a strong culture of praise and encouragement is a win-win for all involved and in this day and age employee retention efforts are vital to the success of your nonprofit.

June 24, 2022

How to Help Employees with Career Development

Employees are the backbone of every nonprofit and your most valuable asset—contributing to the overall success (or failure) of your organization. When employees are engaged and excited about the work they do, you’ll experience increased productivity, improved job performance and higher retention rates. A key factor in employee satisfaction is career advancement and development opportunities which shows your workforce that you care about more than just hitting your numbers.

In an effort to keep employees engaged, employers must invest in their time and resources in training and development initiatives. It’s imperative that both employers and employees take skill enhancement activities seriously to ensure longevity of individual careers and organizational goals. The importance of offering training and development is more important than ever as employees continue to leave their current jobs for ones with better benefits and growth opportunities.

In a recent article by Intoo, “7 Ways to Help Your Employees with Career Development,” they discuss how you can contribute to the professional advancement of your employees with helpful tips for providing employees the tools they need to advance their career with your organization.

This article was originally published by UST’s outplacement partners at Intoo and is being shared with their permission. 

June 17, 2022

Solicit Involvement for Employee Engagement Initiatives

Modern benefits are indeed useful for retention but that is not the whole story. To be fully engaged, nonprofit employees need to feel they have a say in what goes on at work. The trick is, you must involve your staff in developing and implementing the critical cultural and environmental initiatives designed to engage them in their work. The following strategies for this are intuitive, low-cost and easy to execute.

Common Keys to Engagement

Studies have long proven that engaged employees are more likely to stay and disengaged employees are more likely to leave. But the question remains, how do you quantify, support and grow engagement? The 2018 State of the Workforce Management Report advises that a stressful work environment was tracked at 21% of reasons for failed retention, and limited opportunities for advancement cause more than one in ten employees to quit their job. You can avoid this by sharing openly how and when your nonprofit will remedy any such situation.

Make this dialogue part of a strategic retention plan to prevent and solve the crisis of disengagement. While setting up and maintaining a viable set of strategies presents its own challenges, they are minimal compared to problems posed by a lack of preparation. Another recent report²⁰ shows that 18% of executives say a lack of an employee engagement strategy is the biggest challenge they face. They're troubled by "an inability to measure and assess engagement" — a situation you can address by following some basic guidelines mentioned in this section. Then, you can solicit managers and employees to improve their work experience.

FIRST FOCUS: MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR MANAGERS

According to TLNT.com, "Up to 75% of the factors that frustrated [lost workers] and caused them to begin looking elsewhere were controlled by their manager." Advise your managers to get actively involved in working with staff on employee engagement and retention initiatives. Provide them with the tools to keep their staff happy and watch your retention levels rise.

Loyalty Leaders

A surprising half to three-quarters of all turnover is actually preventable, if managers know how to implement all the tools and strategies available. Do your managers have the tools they need? Help them to develop a loyalty leader mindset²¹, and your team will benefit greatly. Knowing what to suggest to managers can help in times when most employees are "at will" and free to resign, with or without notice.

Following are some low-cost Retention Tools provided by TLNT.com for managers that produce high-impact results:

Conduct "stay interviews." Ask current employees why they choose to stay. Once you know, you can implement strategies to support these reasons.

  1. Show them the impact of their work. This is a common tactic in nonprofit management, but if it has been a while since your staff has seen the beneficial results of their work in the community, make time for it.
  2. Ask highly valued employees to let you know if they plan to leave. If key employees are frustrated in their jobs and seeking other employment, wouldn't you want to know before they leave? Learn why they're making a change and discuss possible ways to keep them loyal.
  3. Identify what motivates your targeted employees. Be sure to know what keeps your highly valued employees in place. Compensation? Benefits? Culture? Mission? Their needs will likely change over time, so it's a good idea to survey them at least once a year.
  4. Develop a list of positive/negative job-related factors. Consider giving them more of what works and less of what doesn't. If their survey responses share that they enjoy working on a new piece of equipment, find out how you might update other equipment they use. Items that employees often report as negatives, such as paperwork or back-to-back travel, should be managed meaningfully in the employee's work schedule.
  5. Personalize Your Personnel Department. Maximize the impact of surveys by developing individualized employee retention plans for workers based on their responses. Show you know and care about their personal needs and wants.
  6. Work with staff to create personalized "how to manage me best" profiles. Ask workers to spell out the most-effective and least-effective strategies for their own management. Create a profile when they start at your organization and update it every couple of years.
  7. Give them a say in solving problems. Most staff members want to produce more, and often they know what is holding them back. Help them resolve barriers buried in the organization's culture, scheduling, or somewhere else.

Every one of the above recommendations will serve your organization well if used appropriately. Care should be taken, however, to follow the "spirit" that underlies this list: Know your employees' needs. If a manager has a longtime staff member who is overdue for promotion, sending an email of thanks for a successful project could backfire. This is especially true if the employee has been watching younger staff members hopscotch past them

SECOND FOCUS: GO STRAIGHT TO THE SOURCE, THE STAFF

You've begun improving staff engagement by working with managers, but it's also critical to solicit employee involvement directly. Colorado Nonprofit Association Director of Membership Services Gerry Rasel has the distinct experience of working for a nonprofit that supports best-practices in other nonprofits. Personal experience informs her work. "My best tip for any nonprofit is that it's always about listening to your staff," she said. "I work at a place that is really, really good at that. As an employee, the respect I feel and the knowledge that my opinion is heard goes a long way to keeping me engaged at work."

Share timelines and give your employees a voice in the organization's retention initiatives. Implementing a plan is a critical beginning, but it's important to update your strategies regularly, and to do so you should hear the voices of your employees. Not all nonprofits make that effort. Nearly three-quarters of nonprofit executives make a conscious effort to engage employees, but only 37% report that they've recently updated their employee engagement plan. This reveals the underlying issue that many nonprofits fail to formalize their engagement plan schedule as much as they formalize other routines in the organization. With a formal schedule in place to ask, listen and respond to your staff members, you're more likely to raise employee engagement and hold it at acceptable levels. More than 70% of nonprofit executives surveyed cited "Increasing Employee Satisfaction & Engagement" as a priority. The only priority that earned a higher number was "Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent." So, whatever you can do to increase employee engagement and retention will go a long way to meeting what are likely the top two priorities of your nonprofit's leadership.

A Culture of Action

Dialoguing with your staff is important, but it can also be risky. If employees share their ideas but nothing is implemented — there's no active response — they will disengage altogether, quickly. You can prevent that disaster by moving forward efficiently with a culture that supports communication and action. Organize their input into four distinct areas for a coordinated response:

1. Leadership.

  • Schedule regular informational sessions with various team leaders to explain the organization's status and opportunities for the future
  • Create opportunities for employees to share their understanding of the organization's values.

2. Enablement.

  • Create a transparent resources report so staff members can see and discuss openly where funds are allocated.
  • Bring clients in to share their success stories and allow coworkers to share their successes that were dependent on the help of their teammates.

3. Alignment.

  • Ask employees to write their own job descriptions when hired and then annually. Look for changes in the descriptions and let the manager and staff member work it out and then update HR if changes have occurred or if original descriptions were incorrect.
  • Use an Intranet to encourage staff/leadership communication. Leaders can pose and answer questions online.
  • Schedule a quarterly awards event that recognizes staff for their achievements. Avoid rewarding the same people repeatedly at the expense of quieter employees.

4. Development.

  • Offer personal or professional coaching. Set up a budget and allocate a set number of sessions but allow the employee to maintain control regarding the content.
  • Create a peer-tutoring program where workers can share extra-curricular or work-related skills with their fellow employees while improving public speaking skills and honing leadership abilities. Note responses to various topics.

You shouldn't throw everything at all four engagement areas at once. Don't risk chaotic and failing programs, especially when funding is tight and time to devote to these initiatives may be short. Organizations that report the most impactful results carefully select one or two projects at a time.

Go Beyond

The good news is many engagement initiatives suggested from for-profits already happen in nonprofits. While your for-profit competition is trying to align their company with a purpose, your nonprofit has made a mission of it. Now, build on that with ideas that go beyond the usual:

  • Healthy Snacks. Fewer than half of employers make healthy snacks or a healthy cafeteria available to their employees. Yet, three-quarters of employees want access to healthy foods onsite. Rethink the choices in your vending machine and take a vote for options to increase staff input.
  • Vigorous Health and Wellness Programs. The economy is quickly moving to a freelance paradigm. Robust health and wellness programs make a significant draw for employees. Help build health, relaxation and fun by offering on-site yoga or dance classes.
  • Have Fun. Set aside Friday afternoons for a staff activity that's just for fun and team-building. Host a scavenger hunt for animals in the local zoo, take a group bike ride, enjoy a frozen yogurt social or take a group painting class. Find something fun for everyone.
  • Make It Visual. Create and share a flowchart that demonstrates how certain tasks performed by an employee ultimately help to fulfill the organization's mission.
  • Let Them Explore. Create paths that help team members move laterally within the organization. A transferred worker can explore a new passion while you keep that person in the building.
  • Make Leaders Approachable. Have the organization's leader host weekly office hours, two hours a week, where employees can explore ideas and concerns that keep them engaged.
  • Pay Attention Online. Watch for patterns in Glassdoor reviews to spotlight areas that need improvement.
  • Reward Coursework. Offer points or tangible rewards for those who take work-related open-source courses. Online classes and tutorials abound. Encourage your workforce to learn.

Think creatively, proactively and prudently, and you'll discover a multitude of affordable ways for your team to become involved in developing their own reasons for engagement.

his is an excerpt from UST’s eBook, “Innovative Strategies That Overcome Nonprofit Retention Barriers” in collaboration with Beth Black, Writer and Editor.

June 10, 2022

Stress in the Workplace: How is it Affecting Your Employees

“Round and round and round she goes, and where she stops, nobody knows.”

~ Major Bowes Amateur Hour, c. 1930s

Nonprofits across America are facing the same situation. Rising demand for services in the face of a severe labor shortage. Each part of this problem aggravates the other, until it might seem that you’ll never find a way out of all the struggles. To be sure, the pandemic triggered some thorny nonprofit sustainability challenges, such as the Great Resignation. But let’s be honest — a lot of the problems currently overpowering the American workforce have been brewing since well before COVID-19. In this post, we’ll take a look at where we are today, how we got here, and what you can do to help your staff cope with that wild and wicked ride known as STRESS.

Where We Stand

Mental Health America (MHA) reported in April that 70% of American employees they surveyed last year were finding it difficult to concentrate at work. The study of 11,300 US employees shows a precipitous rise in the stress symptoms employees are feeling from 65% in 2020 and 46% in 2018. Of course, the pandemic has played a large role in this, but we should also consider other factors. Clearly, the events of 2022 — even with the easing of some pandemic pressures — have done very little to assuage workers’ concerns.

With everything going on in the nation and the world, it’s no surprise that American workers are feeling vulnerable and anxious. Threats to personal wellness and safety constantly lead national news stories. Included in the mix, COVID-19 still looms, and inflation has tugged at the nonprofit worker’s ability to make ends meet. Your employees must heap these external fears upon the traditional career concerns, which results in pernicious workplace stress.

How We Got Here

Consider the most common stress-inducing problems related to workplace culture. These remain unchanged from survey reports of years past. Lack of recognition for employees’ contributions remains a problem. There’s also workplace harassment which unfortunately, some nonprofits have done little to address. Left unhandled, this kind of problem will not only stress employees to the point of burnout, it will stain your employer brand permanently.

Also, many nonprofits lack a real path to career success for everyone, not just a chosen few. Developing a culture of support in all areas has been difficult for many nonprofits. The MHA survey reported that:

  • Only 40% of employees agree that their company invests in developing supportive managers.
  • Less than half of employees know about their company’s mental health services, and only 38% would feel safe using those services.
  • Two out of every three employees are not comfortable providing feedback to their manager.

The survey lists more illustrations of problems taking place in America’s workplace cultures. If you haven’t done so lately, this is a good time to survey your own team for their particular stressors. It will be no surprise that different fields bring varying challenges; medical nonprofits often face compassion fatigue while workers in educational nonprofits can be stressed by low pay. Find out what is ailing your staff, so you can determine the best way to address those issues.

Unrest From Uncertainties

With the advent of the Great Resignation, positions are staying unfilled longer, which means that remaining employees are exhausted. Like riders unable to escape an eternally moving carousel, the fact that they are stuck in such an uncertain and incessant situation will no doubt make it feel worse. Even the most dedicated workers will eventually burn out. Nonprofit leaders who have failed to carefully balance workloads between remaining team members will likely notice this more than others.

After more than two years working remotely, some employees are still just simply not ready to return to onsite work. While a number of nonprofits have required workers to return, the fact remains that this is causing stress for those who don’t yet feel safe in the workplace. Help them adjust by ensuring that you keep up with current CDC guidelines in knowledge and practice. Then, communicate your safety practices. Transparency will ease tension. As COVID-19 case rates rise and fall, help your employees trust that you are going to do everything in your power to keep them safe, which includes establishing a caring culture.

Even remote workers may be feeling stressed about their careers. Take steps to account for proximity bias, an unconscious preference that leaders feel toward staff members they see in person over employees who aren’t onsite.

Uncertainty remains a huge stressor. This is the “nobody knows” part of the rhyme above. Unclear or changing job expectations will cause your employees to lose faith in their abilities to meet your demands. Uncertainty is a given in today’s world, but vague job performance expectations will only add to the weight they shoulder regarding overall career ambiguity, organizational changes, and even the dread of workplace violence.

Individuals & Organizations

Eight in 10 of the survey respondents stated that the stress from work affects their relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. Of course, it also affects their employers.

Stressed workers exhibit lowered performance, possibly due, in part, to lack of sleep. They become anxious and uncommunicative. At some point, most burn out and quit. This has been part of the Great Resignation, particularly for nonprofit employees suffering low-pay issues. They will resign to find better paid jobs in another industry, if that’s what it takes to escape the stress of unpaid bills. Longtime employees who have always taken strength from their belief in your mission might lose that resolve when they can’t afford to put gas in their car or food on their table.

Employers have been using temporary or contract workers to fill talent gaps, which can help in the short term. But bear in mind that this rarely provides a long-term solution. It’s an employees’ job market, and unless they want to work on-call, gig workers are finding opportunities to move up to full-time positions that have become more available.

When workers are stressed, job satisfaction scores plummet. Turnover becomes a problem and hiring new staff with a tarnished employer brand will be difficult.

Steps to Take

Here are some steps that can help destress your staff and keep your nonprofit moving forward:

  • Communicate more than ever. Try transparency, as in posting an equitable pay schedule that lets everyone know your compensation is fair. Open discussions on all topics of stress, including workplace safety. Be honest, and approach discussions with a real interest in addressing their concerns.
  • Offer wellness benefits. Provide services for mental and physical health, and advocate for a positive culture that encourages using these services as part of constructive healthcare practices.
  • Offer fun and healthy activities. Whether it’s online Yoga classes for remote employees or group walks at lunchtime for those who work onsite, be creative in providing opportunities to enjoy life and increase their wellness.
  • Offer paid time off. Encourage your employees to take time off for their needs without having to explain why they’re absent.
  • Build more flexibility in deadlines and schedules. If they’re covering for lost coworkers, offer overtime pay, too. But equally important, let them catch a breath between assignments.
  • Be the example that speaks to your culture. If you work long hours, your staff will see that as a requirement for success. Work-life balance is essential to everyone, and an annual vacation should be encouraged for all, including you.

UST’s Content Library provides valuable resources to help you halt that stressful unmerry-go-round, so your staff can find their footing on solid ground, once again.

This blog post was written by Beth Black, consulting writer and editor to UST. Visit PracticalPoet.com to view Beth’s online portfolio and learn more about her editorial services.

June 03, 2022

HR Question: Stress on the Job

Question: An employee says that the stress of the job is affecting their mental health. How should we handle this?

Answer: This employee may just need to talk through their concerns and get your help prioritizing or delegating. They may, for example, feel like every single thing on their to-do list is life-or-death by Friday at close of business, when that’s not really the case. Some manager guidance can go a long way, especially for your employees who are usually self-directed.

On the other hand, the stress and mental health effects the employee describes may rise to the level of a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In this case, we would recommend beginning the interactive process to determine what, if anything, can be done to accommodate them so that the essential functions of the job get done to your standards and the employee is able to keep working. As part of this conversation, you can request a doctor's note to substantiate the disability.

If you have more general concerns about the effects of stress in your workplace, you might consider ways to help your employees reduce and manage their stress. Tried and true methods include offering health benefits so employees can access health care professionals and paid time off so they can take a day here and there to rest and recharge. Simply encouraging employees to support one another and allowing them breaks during the day can also be a great help.

This Q&A was provided by Mineral, powering the UST HR Workplace. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a FREE 60-day trial here. As a UST member, simply log into your Mineral portal to access live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library, and more.

May 26, 2022

Creating a Unified Company Culture

If you haven’t experienced it, consider yourself lucky. Most of America’s workers have, at one time or another, faced problems with a toxic workplace culture. It might have been bias against a minority (including women, even if they’re a company’s majority). It could have been a difficult manager who was allowed to target others with impunity. Or, it simply might have been a culture that failed to support its workers’ dreams and wellbeing adequately. Whatever the issue, most American workers have quit a job that came wrapped in a dysfunctional culture.

The Great Resignation has launched this trend into the stratosphere. In the month of March, alone, more than 4.5 million American workers quit their jobs. This is not going to change anytime soon. And it’s expensive. Every employee who flees your toxic culture will likely end up costing you several thousand dollars to replace.

It’s time to cut off any culture concerns before they consume your organization. Here are some ideas and steps to help you ensure your culture is avoiding toxic situations and proactively developing a positive, supportive culture that will sustain your workforce, your nonprofit and your mission.

Common Culture Concerns

In nonprofits across the nation, shared beliefs and behaviors lead to the way employees interact. It leads to the way nonprofit leaders, and ultimately, nonprofit employees make decisions. Whether you want it or not, your nonprofit has a culture.

You might be imagining culture as some nebulous concept floating in space. The truth is, most workers will point directly at their manager to place the blame for negative work experiences. Here are some reasons why:

  • They don’t feel safe being honest with their manager about job-related or personal problems.
  • They feel there is no transparency or open communication coming from their manager regarding job expectations, burnout prevention, training, mentoring, career advancement pathways or even a status update on the health of the organization.
  • They don’t feel their manager has protected them from workplace discrimination.
  • They can’t expect a positive outcome from reporting harassment, sexual or otherwise, to their manager.
  • They may actually have been targeted for harassment, sexual or otherwise, by their manager … with no larger oversight.
  • They don’t feel truly valued by their manager, and hence, the organization.

Why It’s Important

Even if your employees choose to stay with your organization, you will likely experience a negative effect on individual and team productivity. People who experience any of the above reasons will have difficulty concentrating on projects and working effectively in teams. And your employees’ daily sense of wellbeing can impact your recruitment efforts, as they will react with poor reviews on sites like Glassdoor, thereby damaging your employer brand irreparably.

Don’t underestimate the destruction caused by burnout brought on by a toxic culture. Problems that you might not know about could be affecting your workforce. For example, proximity bias has become a serious problem for remote workers, particularly as some of their colleagues return to the workplace. Those who remain remote, either for geographical or health reasons, have been discovering that they’re not in line for training or leadership opportunities simply because they don’t physically walk into their employer’s building to work.

Yet, this can be difficult for an employer to see, especially one who relies on remote workers. It would take some effort to track conversations and career tracks for everyone on staff to determine accurately if you’ve been remiss. For instance, have you been showing the same interest in your remote workers careers as the paths allowed to those you see in the hallway at the office? Remember, you don’t have to be aware of a bias to have one.

Determine Your Culture’s Toxicity

The first step is a willingness to accept the possibility that your culture isn’t perfect. From there, you should ask these questions and search for signs of dysfunction:

  • Gloom and doom. When you look at the faces of people around your workplace or in remote meetings, do they reflect any happiness? Or do they look like they just lost their luggage? Lagging enthusiasm at work is an easily notable feature of a toxic work environment.
  • Error Terror. It’s normal for people to fear making a mistake at work, but trying to avoid an embarrassing moment and living in anxious fear of the threat of consequences means they’re working in a culture that penalizes failure.
  • The Slow Boil of Constant Turmoil. When communication fails, teams fall apart, individuals lose connection and nobody knows what to do in their role. From there, trust dissolves and power struggles ensue. Collaboration will fall by the wayside, derailing projects, people and your nonprofit.
  • Drama Trauma. Some gossip is normal in any community setting, and workplaces are no exception. But when the rumor mill spins out of control with malevolent half-truths at tennis-match levels, it’s a clear sign that workers are trying to operate in a communications vacuum as part of a dysfunctional culture.
  • They Come, They Go, They Don’t Even Show. Higher than normal employee turnover is an undisputable sign of a culture in need of repair. Many are leaving positions without securing a new job elsewhere first. Mental health and the need for wellness is affecting your employees’ decisions. In these trying times, workers won’t just walk away from a toxic culture. They’ll run.

Cut off Culture Concerns

You can think of your culture as a tree with many branches. Over the years, people have developed initiatives that worked at the time, or habits have developed that may have been overlooked. Some of the branches are robust and strong, green with leafy foliage and hosting birds’ nests. Some of the branches are scraggly and half-dead, bringing nothing to the tree but dead weight. Every branch came from the center or from another branch, just as your cultural practices have come from the leadership and behavior of your employees over time. Now is the time to shape your culture by pruning away that which doesn’t serve your workforce and mission and to allow which is healthy to blossom as a beautiful part of the community.

What to do next:

  • Ask. Conduct a company-wide anonymous employee engagement survey. Ask about problems in key areas, such as harassment, bias and inclusion. Find out if your culture supports Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access and a sense of Belonging for everyone. Ask them to describe their experiences. Look at age, religion, race, gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, distance (remember remote workers), physical and mental abilities — plus as many additional categories as you can find. Make it bold and encompassing, so that all staff members understand that you’re really addressing their issues. Do not retaliate against any whistle blowers.
  • Listen. Talk to your employees. An open door policy and a respectful ear might lead to some honest comments that will strengthen your culture. 
  • Learn. Learn from the results. Look at your team leaders to discern any additional issues.
  • Apply. You may need a professional consultant to help your team launch the initiatives that come from this new information. Or, you may be able to figure out some strategies that will empower your team to overcome what has been going on. Give it time, but don’t let it slip away. Be sure to use additional surveys and metrics regularly to guide your actions as you move forward.

Seek and Destroy

Five major forms of dysfunction will lead to all kinds of trouble in your culture. Clean these up and your culture can shine. As categories, they are:

  • Disrespect. Loss of dignity or consideration.
  • Non-inclusivity. Biased against subgroups, cronyism and nepotism.
  • Dishonesty. Unethical behavior or failure at regulatory compliance.
  • Ruthlessness. Cutthroat or backstabbing behavior and competition.
  • Abuse. Hostility, harassment or bullying.

Equity vs. Equality

While both are vitally important, equality and equity are not the same. Understanding how they differ will help you find a way to enshrine both as central themes within your renewed culture.

  • Equality: Everyone is paid the same for equal work. It doesn’t matter if they’re male or female, local or remote. Making pay transparent throughout the company is one way to ensure that it happens.
  • Equity: Take the needs of individual employees into consideration for the sake of fairness. A two-story building with offices upstairs — but no elevator — would not be equitable for a person in a wheelchair. While everyone has equal freedom to use the stairs, not everyone can.

Your culture probably doesn’t suffer from all of the ills mentioned here, but understand this: No culture is perfect, and every organization could benefit from an honest discussion, at least, to address the concerns of the hardworking people you need to achieve your mission. Handle it with a caring heart and deep concern, and you will be able to achieve a world-class organization where people really want to work.

This blog post was written by Beth Black, consulting writer and editor to UST. Visit PracticalPoet.com to view Beth’s online portfolio and learn more about her editorial services.

May 20, 2022

On-Demand Webinars: HR Strategies and Risk Management Tactics

Here at UST, we aim to create content designed to educate 501(c)(3) nonprofit leaders and strengthen the nonprofit sector. As part of our on-going commitment to serve nonprofit organizations, UST has published two on-demand webinars on relevant topics important to the sector. For just $29, you can register to watch one of our on-demand webinars to discover nonprofit strategies and best practice tips. PLUS, with your registration, you’ll also receive essential handouts for nonprofit leaders.

Human Resource Strategies: Employee Engagement and Nonprofit Brand

Today's increasingly virtual landscape—along with the workforce's evolving strategic priorities—has not only changed how we work, but it's also impacted the way we interact with one another. To maintain positive morale and strengthen company culture, nonprofit leaders must prioritize employee engagement and brand reputation strategies. During this on-demand webinar, discover helpful tactics for building a string nonprofit brand while fostering on engaged workforce. Register here.

The Workplace of Today and Tomorrow Managing Risk and Reward

During the last few years, nonprofits around the globe have been forced to develop contingency plans and re-examine the nature of ‘essential’ services. Learn how to identify (and mitigate) nonprofit risk while fostering an engaged workforce. During this on-demand webinar, you'll learn how to identify (and mitigate) nonprofit risk while fostering an engaged workforce. You'll also be able to download several handouts essential for managing risk at your nonprofit. Register here.

May 17, 2022

Build Competitive & Creative Benefit Packages

You probably already know that nonprofits generally work with lower budgets than large corporations, especially when it comes to employee benefits and perks. That means you must make your nonprofit appealing to job seekers in other ways. This is the time to deploy your creative genius and stand out in the employment marketplace. The global pandemic put just about everyone through a life-altering experience. And as a result, many career trajectories are changing. Seize the opportunity to offer something attractive that will improve their quality of life, enriching them in ways that go beyond dollar signs—and it must be more than your mission.

Offered in many shapes, the employee benefits package has kept its golden status as a form of compensation that goes beyond wages to draw job seekers. Often referred to as perks, the varied benefits included are special and not offered by all employers. You should begin by re-examining your basics to see if you’re already offering any of the following:

  • Improved Work-Life Balance. Given that so many spent more than a year at home, it might seem contrary to offer additional personal time off. But the pandemic lock downs, complete with furloughs and layoffs, were not the same as paid leave from a job that inspires you to return with energy. Flexible hours can also help families cope with new work routines. And longstanding employees might appreciate the opportunity to take an educational sabbatical, especially if they return with helpful new skills. That's a win/win!
  • Healthy is Happy. The pandemic exposed a health divide across the nation. Help your workers enjoy greater wellness by providing budget-friendly benefits they will appreciate. Organize a lunchtime walking group or offer healthy snacks instead of the traditional vending machine. Those working in the office again may need a quiet space for relaxing breaks. Put that empty office space to good use. If your nonprofit can afford it, consider partnering with a local gym to reimburse part of their membership fees.
  • Teach and Learn. Offer opportunities for staff to share special skills, such as a foreign language. Or set up links to crafty educational YouTube videos for crafts in the break room coupled with basic supplies for beginners. At lunch, they can learn to crochet or make a mosaic.
  • Form an Affinity Group. If your nonprofit is large enough, you may be able to take advantage of affinity group benefits⁸, such as insurance deals or club memberships. Check into offering a discounted membership in Auto Club (AAA), for example, which would then provide numerous discounts and services to your employees.
  • Have Fun Together. Bring some joy to your workforce culture by offering memorable enjoyable events. For example, cell phones are ubiquitous, so how about a photo contest? Dedicate some wall space, perhaps in the lunchroom (or an online page) for your employees’ artwork—photographic or otherwise. They can share around-town selfies, landscapes, or perhaps local architecture.

When you must work with a limited benefits budget, it’s crucial to choose only the benefits that your employees will care about. Clearly, most workers need help with healthcare costs. If your nonprofit is small, and you don’t provide a group health insurance plan, consider offering a Qualified Small Employer Health Reimbursement Arrangement (QSEHRA) — an affordable way to help defray your employees’ healthcare costs. The pandemic left many Americans in debt and reducing these expenses will help reduce their risks of financial devastation. Even before the pandemic, millennials struggled with deficient wages, affordable housing shortages, and outrageous student debt. They already make up the largest segment of the workforce, so whatever you can do to help them with essential expenses will be appreciated.

Financial Tools That Help

Americans are recovering financially, as the economy revives, though it breaks along socioeconomic and racial lines. About 60% of White and Asian adults report that their finances are in excellent or good shape. By contrast, about two thirds of Black adults and nearly 60% of Hispanic adults report that their finances are in fair or poor shape. Roughly half of non-retired Americans say the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak have made it harder for them to achieve their financial goals moving forward. These employees need your help managing their budgets. Consider the following tools for this purpose:

  • Access to Funds. Work with a payroll service that provides free access to funds between paydays. This can help protect your workers experiencing surprise expenses from credit card late fees and overdraft charges, as they return to work and rebuild their financial wellbeing.
  • HSAs and FSAs. Provide a tax-free way to pay for covered expenses.
  • Set Up a Retirement Plan. Whether it’s a 401(K) or a 403(B), you can help your staff prepare for the future with deposits that are automatically deducted from their pay. Make it spectacular by including a plan to match contributions up to a specified amount.
  • Identity Theft Protection. Scams and security breaches are rampant. When you offer free enrollment in a credit monitoring program, you’re showing how much you care by protecting their safety and security.
  • Student Loan Assistance. This will be huge for millennials, their parents and recent graduates from other generations who might be feeling abandoned by governmental agencies that allowed promised funds to dwindle. Just a hundred dollars a month could save your employee three years of payments.

Nearly 86% of workers between 22 and 33 years old say they would commit to an employer for five years if the deal included student loan assistance. Encourage loyalty with a monthly payment that helps reduce their debt.

  • Help Families Flourish. Is your family leave package robust? Find creative means to help with child or elder care. Celebrate families with bring-your-child-to-work days. Whatever helps busy moms and dads get through their week with less stress could be just the ticket.
  • Share the Swag. Does your nonprofit use branded swag for fundraising or other purposes? Share some of those goodies with your employees, so they can really feel like part of the team without having to donate part of their paycheck to do it.
  • Paid Volunteer Time. You’ve hired people who care. Let them put in some extra time without sacrificing a paycheck. It’s good for the community, the employee, and your employer brand!
  • Auto Insurance Premiums. With more employees working from home, their car insurance rates likely dropped significantly – perhaps enough for you to help with the premiums.
  • Supplemental Insurance. Offer these programs at group rates for employees, including spousal insurance, long-term care, disability and more.
  • Make the Workplace Comfortable. As the pandemic slowly subsides, it’s time to rethink office supplies that go beyond hand sanitizer. Save your employees the expense of caring for their comfort by providing blankets for those under air conditioning vents, free healthy snacks to keep energy up, and perhaps serve lattes once a month as a sign of appreciation for all they do. And remember birthdays because it's personal to the employee and it shows you care. Give them reason to connect you with empathy and caring.

With so many members of the American workforce continuing to work from home, you should also consider helping to defray their communication and efficiency costs. Offer a corporate cell phone plan or give them one to use for work. If you’re not already doing this, it’s time to cover the cost of upgrading their internet speed.

Party Heart-y

And one virtually free method of supporting your staff with joyful memories is to ask employees to recognize each other. Co-workers feel highly motivated to earn the esteem of their peers and will network better, gaining newfound appreciation for their teammates, as they seek reasons to recognize each other.

Seize the opportunity to go over the top by coupling it with a seasonal party event. Serve in-season snacks, such as cocoa for winter, and warm each other’s hearts with your very own mutual-admiration society.

Virtual Team Building

If your staff is now working remote, you can find virtual events to enjoy online. Many types of fun shared experiences await, from game shows to virtual escape rooms, virtual tropical beach gatherings, online shared puzzles to solve, trivial challenges, and more. Your team could be lounging on a virtual tropical beach together. Just a few clicks away! If your budget doesn’t allow for a third-party provider, simply visit Google Earth, and plug in far-away cities, then share the domain and enjoy virtual travel together! Wander the streets of Italy’s Positano or a Japanese fishing village. The opportunities are global!

Experience Success

Whether your employees enjoy them at home or someplace around town, experiences are the hot new perk. Even before the pandemic, Millennials had developed a reputation as seekers of experiences rather than accumulators of goods. That’s not to suggest ignoring their monetary needs; they still have student loans and other high costs disempowering their buying choices. But prior to COVID-19, HR teams were already searching for emotionally impactful activities that could act as bonus incentives. And Millennials largely took them up on experiences that boosted a sense of interpersonal contact and community.

The pandemic galvanized this mindset and spread a desire for recreation to all workforce generations. Of course, the sporadic need for social distancing has complicated fulfilling desires for contact and community. So, be sure to include engaging experiences that they can enjoy from the safety and comfort of their homes. Some companies offer memberships in Peloton or virtual leadership coaching. It could be something fun and relaxing like an in-home cooking class or even a meal prepared by a private chef. Or it could be hiring professional respite care for an elderly family member so that the employee can enjoy a break from routine. The limit to this is your creativity and the dreams of your workers. The truth is, an experience given as a gift or reward is more personal than a gift card or bonus check. Look to provide moments of connection, even if it requires using digital tools to deliver them. Online platforms offering curated activities as incentives are available, and employees can even choose what is most meaningful to them. The menu options are abundant and worth considering. As the nation reopens, many more opportunities will become available – from tours to scuba lessons. Whatever the offerings, each activity celebrates the person who works on your team and will build your employer brand to new levels of success.

Set Up Your New Employee Benefits Packages

Now that you’ve considered the new possibilities, you’re ready to leap in, right? Of course, setting up a new employee benefits package will take some expertise. But you should allow your creativity to provide foundational ideas that will build the package of your employees’ dreams. It’s an opportunity to stand out. First, however, you need to know these startling facts:

• A full 40% of US employees report that their employer is not currently offering employee benefits programs that help.

• An impressive 69% say that having a wider array of benefits would increase their workplace loyalty.

• A frightful 32 million members of the US workforce don’t receive paid sick time off, which is especially horrifying to note in pandemic times.

Of course, there are some basics: Many employers offer life insurance, retirement plans, overtime pay, and PTO or sick pay. The US federal government does require larger organizations to offer medical benefits and unpaid family leave to full-time employees. Some states add to this. Beyond that, benefits are an ideal way to serve budget-conscious nonprofits in the current job market. Excellent benefits that are affordable for an organization can incentivize employees to stay longer despite lower cash wages. Lower turnover saves your nonprofit as well. A great benefits package can build workforce loyalty and push your team toward greater success with your nonprofit’s mission.

Be Their Best Friend’s Best Friend

For something truly unusual, offer a paid day off for a staff member to bond with her newly adopted puppy or kitten, offering to send a treat for rescued pets. Some nonprofits offer subsidized or group-rate pet insurance as an option. The most affordable option may simply to offer a pet-friendly office space for worksite employees. Take precautions to protect employees with allergies and specify the kinds of pets that are allowed, normally well-behaved dogs. Some organizations bring in animal therapy to help de-stress their staff. When a puppy makes the rounds, he’s always followed by a lot of smiles. These benefits aren’t too common, so you’ll make your brand stand out by offering furry wellness perks.

Expand a Popular Offering

What’s better than PTO? Extended PTO! Look into stretching paid time off to include some half-day Fridays. Every other week, staff members who have their assignments completed on time can take the afternoon off, paid. The benefit supports mental wellness with extra-long weekends to rest and relax—some companies offer unlimited vacation time. Even if you only offer these time-related benefits during summers or perhaps on a once-monthly basis, it could keep your staff motivated and excited about employment at your organization.

Perks Work!

The good news is that most benefits you select can be customized to suit your budget, workforce, and nonprofit culture. Business strategist Kenichi Ohmae said, “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.” If you’re offering the wrong benefits, or you’re trying to find other means of remaining competitive in today’s tight job market, it’s time to consider a new direction in benefits packaging. Ask your staff about their dream rewards, come up with creative offerings that speak to those dreams, and then share the news with everyone.

This is an excerpt from UST’s eBook, “Workforce Management Tactics that Strengthen Nonprofit Brands” in collaboration with Beth Black, Writer and Editor.

May 12, 2022

2022 Employee Engagement Toolkit

As the workforce continues to evolve and nonprofit employers struggle to find (and retain) top talent, leaders must prioritize employee engagement strategies and include development initiatives. To help nonprofit leaders rethink the employee experience, we've compiled our top resources to create the 2022 Employee Engagement Toolkit.

With all that you do for the communities you serve, it's critical that you focus on those who keep your mission moving forward by fostering a work culture where employees feel valued, involved and supported—keeping them intrinsically motivated and engaged. Download the free toolkit and gain access to all of these resources:

  1. 7 Ways to Re-Engage Your Workforce
  2. Employee Engagement Checklist for Leaders
  3. Creative Workplace Benefits
  4. Basics of Creating a Training Program
  5. Basics of Creating a Training Program
  6. Employee Suggestion Form
  7. Workplace Flexibility Fundamentals
  8. Key Steps for Implementing a Mentoring Program
  9. How Employers Can Stand Against Racial Injustice
  10. [Webinar Recording] Nonprofit Retention Strategies

To access more HR-specific articles, templates and checklists, you can sign up for a FREE 60-Day Trial of UST HR Workplace today! You'll also gain access to live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, and a virtual compliance library.

May 03, 2022

HR Question: Avoid Turnover and Increase Retention

Question: We’ve seen a lot of turnover lately. Do you have any tips for increasing retention?

Answer: Employee retention is one of the most difficult and expensive challenges faced by business owners, managers, and HR departments. Fortunately, the keys to retention are simple and straightforward, though certainly easier said than done. The following three practices are essential:

  • Pick the right people in the first place. Put thought and care into your recruitment and interview procedures. The more time you and other employees can spend with candidates, the surer you’ll be they believe in your mission, understand the challenges and frustrations of the position, and want to contribute to your success.
  • Make sure your compensation and benefits remain competitive. This is a tall order and may squeeze your bottom line in ways that make you uncomfortable, but it’s necessary if retention is at the top of your priority list. Make it a goal to do a yearly analysis of your total compensation package to ensure it’s at least keeping up with the market. Many employers who know they can’t offer competitive pay offer other compelling benefits, like generous PTO and the ability to work from home.
  • Be appreciative. A little gratitude can go a long way. And you can show it in multiple ways–from flexibility when employees need it, to a willingness to hear out ideas, to employee appreciation programs. Even a simple thank you can work wonders.

This Q&A was provided by Mineral, powering the UST HR Workplace. Have HR questions? Sign your nonprofit up for a FREE 60-day trial here. As a UST member, simply log into your Mineral portal to access live HR certified consultants, 300+ on-demand training courses, an extensive compliance library, and more.

April 18, 2022

How Compensation Growth Strategies Can Help Sustain Your Organization

Studies in 2016 by both SHRM and Nonprofit HR showed that nonprofit workers resigned from their jobs at the same rate as for-profit workers — both at 19%. This myth-busting truth surprised a lot of nonprofit leaders at the time. And now with the pandemic, it’s continuing on a larger scale. The Great Resignation has created an intense employee-employer job shuffle, where lower-paid workers are quitting their jobs for the financial rewards of corporate careers. Meanwhile, higher-paid workers are leaving those jobs in search of more meaningful work.

Nonprofits Feel More Turnover Pain

There are reasons why it seems like nonprofits lose more employees. The truth is nonprofits often feel the pain of employee loss more than corporations — even when the same number of employees are leaving — simply because they tend to lose institutional knowledge that was never properly recorded due to a lack of infrastructure. Who in your organization knows critical donor information? Is it accurately recorded for posterity? Protecting your nonprofit from this type of loss could mean investing in a better program that helps to keep accurate records. Or it could require investing in more companywide training—empowering your staff to use your records system competently.

If you believe such expenses are unnecessary, do you know how your organization bounces back after someone leaves? How difficult is it to adapt everyone’s workload to cover for the last person who left? Was that person a paid employee or a volunteer? What does the organization lose in time, effort and funds to rebuild what was lost?

Remember, as you work to sustain your organization through turnover, it is important to focus some energy on building a resilient and flexible infrastructure that won’t suffer if a key employee leaves.

If you have already strengthened your infrastructure as much as possible and still need to stabilize your workforce, you can easily calculate your actual turnover rate to determine the urgency of your compensation status. If you do have high turnover, especially since the pandemic, it's time to consider how you might improve engagement with adjusted compensation strategies.

Great Resignation Results

Nonprofits face advantages and challenges in regard to both groups of resigning workers:

  • Your nonprofit will benefit by engaging and retaining your current workforce (who already value your mission), but you must offer compensation that realistically addresses their personal financial needs.
  • At the same time, your organization will gain some valuable advantages if you can attract and recruit corporate workers with your inspiring mission and compassionate culture, but you will only be able to retain them with credible compensation that provides for their needs.

Your compensation plan can support employee engagement and retention while setting a tone of respect and appreciation. Just follow these two tenets:

  • Payment in fair exchange for their time, focus and hard work.
  • Expressing gratitude for the benefits that your organization has realized as a result.

Both of these concepts support the adequate pay and rewarding culture that will sustain your nonprofit with an engaged workforce.

Compensation Growth Defined

The term “compensation growth” often leads to two action plans. First, if needed, increase your nonprofit’s pay scale, allowing salaries to reflect current best-practices. Second, meet with each employee upon hiring and then annually to develop a clear compensation plan that allows for reasonable cost-of-living increases and merit raises. Help them trust in a future with your organization. Handling the first action plan will allow you to implement the second. So, where does all that increased compensation come from?

A Valuable Distinction

Total rewards compensation involves thinking beyond the dollar signs on an employee’s paycheck. A more comprehensive approach takes two basic forms: Direct compensation includes the employee’s salary, commissions, bonuses, allowances, and overtime pay. Indirect compensation includes benefits such as health insurance, retirement funding, use of a company phone, discounts to public events, and invitations to internal events such as company picnics. Indirect compensation’s beauty is that it can rise to the size of your imagination without costing a lot.

Find opportunities in your company culture. For example, remote or hybrid schedules will likely remain popular for years. If possible, adopt scheduling flexibility and give employees more say in determining when and where they work. AARP recently reported that the Great Resignation has included many seniors who no longer wish to work full-time schedules. Simultaneously, others need more hours to make up for financial losses from the Great Recession. The trick is to work with them to meet their needs.

There are plenty of other indirect options, such as improved training availability and clear leadership paths. Mentoring and coaching for all employees can keep your staff engaged — even those who are chosen as mentors will value the experience and the trust you place in them. 

Mental Health: 2022’s Best Benefit

Mental health services are critically important in 2022. Socioeconomic and political upheavals accompanied by pandemic and war have left many workers experiencing anxiety and depression. If your nonprofit provides services that help — and you build a culture geared for better overall health — your engagement should rise significantly, and employer brand will shine in the marketplace. Consider these options:

  • Offer coverage for mental health care.
  • Offer Walk and Talk sessions with a paid therapist or coach.
  • Offer paid time off for mental health days.
  • Provide enjoyable activities that boost socialization and wellbeing.
  • Support a walk-a-thon to promote mental health and destigmatize problems.
  • Provide discounts for massages, weekend getaways, local museums and more.
  • Balance workloads and reduce stress related to unreasonable deadlines and overwork.

Sometimes Money Does the Talking

No matter what, they’ll need to earn a decent living. Ease their personal budgetary concerns by properly managing your organization’s budget. If traditional income streams have dried up, these options might help:

  • Increase your funding through sales. Work with one of several online outlets to create a line of branded products. If you have a website, you can set up an online store. Be sure to develop that with a professional. Promote your products on social media.
  • Increase your funding through donors. There are myriad ways to increase funding these days, such as online crowdfunding apps like GoFundMe, Mightycause, FundRazr and Fundly. Research several to pick the best one for you. Items you sell could also be useful as rewards for crowdfunding donors. A branded mug, for example, would be a great gift for those who donate $35 to your cause.

You’ll benefit from a clear business and marketing plan with specific designated use for collected funds. Be honest with donors about your organization’s need for compensation growth. When you compensate them properly, your workforce will help you reach impressive goals that build your brand, draw more donors, and sustain your nonprofit organization.

This blog post was written by Beth Black, consulting writer and editor to UST. Visit PracticalPoet.com to view Beth’s online portfolio and learn more about her editorial services.