Imagine being offered a new job, knowing there’s only enough money to pay you for twelve months. Would you take it?

Nonprofit and community organizations are often limited in their ability to offer long-term roles due to the funding models they have to work within. Demand for talented staff is high, but unstable funding means employees frequently leave before a limited contract expires. 

This high turnover not only disrupts the continuity of work but also hampers the organization’s ability to achieve its mission.

So, how can these organizations attract and retain staff beyond limited contracts? Let’s explore some ideas.

Creating an Organization that Attracts Talent

In today’s economy, candidates leverage offers against each other. So, how do you ensure interviewees show up and that your job posting is the role they’re hoping to land in the end?

Be Active in the Community

Show up. Wherever your community is active, be present. Whether this is at community events, job fairs or conferences, show your community engagement. When organizations show up, they show their mission is active, they reflect the community, and they communicate more in their actions than they could ever in a job posting or a website.

Encourage Staff and Clients to be Ambassadors

Not every organization can afford to have an HR staff member fully dedicated to educating staff and key clients to make the organization more attractive. However, doing the work to engage employees will pay off in their conversations with others in the industry.

Design Attractive Roles

Reevaluate your job posting. Is it a role someone would want to do? How does it compare to other roles at other organizations?

In designing roles and postings, you can leverage the work you’ve done for retention to advertise the great things you have to offer outside the basic role requirements and compensation.

Think About the Future During the Interview and Hiring Process

As you interview candidates for roles relying on inconsistent funding, look for:

  • Company fit
  • Flexibility and willingness to take on new things
  • Connection to your organizational mission
  • Growth mindset

Try to find someone who fits into the organization and will adapt to change so that they can, where possible, continue working within the organization after their official contract ends.

Now you have the staff in the door, how do you retain them?

Create Excitement to Retain New Hires

Pay Candidates Differently

Beyond the salary you have available through funding, celebrate successes and milestones with rewards. You may not be able to give someone a year-end bonus, but you can certainly reward good results with, for example, small gifts or additional flextime.

In good management, we prioritize understanding each team member individually. We call this individualized leadership, and by tailoring our leadership style to match their preferences and motivations, we can create excitement through meaningful rewards that resonate with them personally.

Some may find physical gifts rewarding, as they are things they wouldn’t otherwise get. However, some may find getting shout-outs in company newsletters or company-wide meetings more rewarding.

Tap into individualized leadership and see how you can reward candidates creatively.

Create Work That Develops New Skills and Abilities

Work with leadership to find skills you can teach through different assignments or role additions. Find creative ways to incorporate professional development that will entice people to stay.

Cross-Department Tasks

You can add responsibilities from other departments that teach new skills. This is a retainment strategy in itself, but it can also allow you to re-assign them after the funding for their limited contract ends.

Strategic Delegation

Giving employees opportunities to try out higher-level positions or roles can further their personal missional impact and give them great learning opportunities.
Perhaps you can let a team member present on a regular call with key funders or include them as part of the team travelling to extend the mission of the organization. Giving staff valuable personal development and opportunities will help create excitement and retain talent.

Create and Communicate Purpose

Communicate a role’s importance. Discuss how the funding came about and the impact the role can have on the organization, the community, and others in the organization. Communicating the role’s purpose increases employee engagement.

People are attracted to feeling needed. They want to know why they are doing what they’re doing and the impact their work has. It’s like the story of the Three Bricklayers rebuilding St. Paul’s Cathedral. One described what he was doing as “a job,” the second as “building a wall,” and the third as “building a great cathedral.”  Help staff see the cathedral in what they do. 

Create Reciprocity

Think about creating reciprocity. Encourage a culture of appreciation and recognition within the organization, where achievements are celebrated and contributions are acknowledged. Recognizing employees for their dedication and hard work fosters a sense of belonging and reinforces their commitment to the organization’s mission.

This can be done through regular team meetings, employee appreciation events, or personalized notes of gratitude from management. By nurturing a supportive and appreciative environment, you boost morale and cultivate a sense of loyalty among staff members, making them more inclined to stay through periods of funding uncertainty and beyond.

By hiring for company fit, you can build a dream team of passionate and engaged workers who work together to shape the organization’s future based on the community’s evolving needs.

Want to more deeply explore these and other ideas for attracting and retaining staff?  Connect with me on Linkedin.

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