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Improving Employee Retention at Nonprofits

Like many organizations, nonprofits struggle with high employee turnover and staffing shortages. But how can nonprofits change this narrative when their budgets are tight? A key focus should be placed on employee retention. Here are some leading practices in this area:

1. Focus on What You Can Provide

In 2021, the Pew Research center conducted a study to figure out why so many people quit their jobs during the Great Resignation, and 63% of people reported a lack of pay and growth opportunities as the reason they left. Knowing these statistics is crucial for an organization, as they provide the building blocks to improving employee retention. But how can nonprofits utilize this information to improve their employee retention? 

Nonprofits understandably don’t have the kind of budgets that would allow them to provide staff with high salaries; however, there are other things that workers value just as much, such as PTO, monthly mental health days, paid parental leave, and flexible work schedules. It’s important to ask your employees what’s important to them and make accommodations accordingly.  

As for providing growth opportunities, nonprofits should ask employees how or where they want to grow in their careers. And based on their answers, you can find them mentors within the organization, or online classes they can take to work on the skills required to grow into that role. Focusing on your employees’ professional development is crucial to improving employee retention, as a study conducted by Gallup found that organizations that invest in employee development reported an 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain employees.  

2. Provide Flexibility

In addition to providing better benefits and professional development, nonprofits should also find ways to provide flexibility because most workers rank this as a high priority. The hybrid work schedule is a popular way to provide flexibility, however, that might not be feasible for every organization based on their needs. So, nonprofits will need to get creative in their efforts to provide flexibility. For example, they can transition to a 4-day work week, or employees can leave work early to pick up kids. 

3. Prevent Burnout 

According to Nonprofit Quarterly, about 30 percent of nonprofit workers are burned out, and 20 percent are in danger of burning out. That’s an alarming number when you take into account that employees who experience burnout often are 2.6 times as likely to look for a new job. Therefore, it’s crucial that nonprofits tackle burnout within their organization.  

And to do that, you’ll want to reach out to your employees and ask them how are they doing, and is there anything we can do to make your job easier. They might need different technologies or better communication to do their job well. However, it’s important to hear them out, and if you can make their job easier, you should.  


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