It is understandable that during tough economic times, it may be
necessary to freeze wages or award minimum pay, while asking
employees to take on new responsibilities. However, do not
lose sight of the importance of your staff, from hiring and
training them to rewarding them for their performance, and
providing motivation to stay.
Recognize Your Greatest Wealth
What is your organization's most valuable asset? When
asked to list their organization's assets, not-for-profit
leaders are likely to name investments, facilities, real estate,
cash and other tangible assets.
But oftentimes, an organization's staff is really its
greatest asset. Without a knowledgeable and committed team,
your organization stands little chance of delivering program
services or raising enough money to fund them. And when you
consider the cost of hiring, training and mentoring staff –
not to mention the losses your not-for-profit incurs when an
experienced employee leaves — it is easy to see why you
should assign a high value to your people.
Add to Staff Wisely
Before hiring an employee, thoroughly analyze the decision for
potential rewards and risks. Experience, education, skills
and employer recommendations are merely a starting place.
Good hiring requires employers and job candidates to honestly
assess their respective objectives. Do not hire someone
simply because you are desperate to fill an empty position.
Similarly, do not court a candidate who seems likely to jump ship
when a "better" offer comes along — no matter how
impressive his or her resumé.
Employee loyalty is often directly related to their feelings
about their organization's mission. When a new employee
comes aboard, ensure he or she receives comprehensive training
— not only related to job responsibilities, but also about
your not-for-profit's culture and ethics. Staffers need
to buy in to your mission and support the programs you have
Also ensure that employees understand your evaluation and
compensation system — and that they feel like full
participants. Staffers must be able to voice perceived
obstacles to their successful long-term employment without fear of
reprisal. If you want to keep them, listen and try to find
ways to help them succeed.
Be Creative with Nonmonetary Rewards
Although financial compensation is generally the best way to
reward and retain people, there are other ways you can let
employees know you value them — without busting your
budget. For example, consider tangible rewards other than
money. You could write a personal "thank you" note
and enclose a small gift card when a staff member achieves
something special, or you could reward that person with an extra
vacation or personal day. Another idea: Offer the employee
more flexible hours, such as earlier starting and leaving times or
the option to telecommute.
It is also important to never underestimate the value of praise
and recognition. Acknowledge employees for a job well done at
staff meetings or in your not-for-profit's newsletter, or
invite "star" employees to be introduced at a board
meeting or to represent your not-for-profit at an industry
conference. All of these actions reflect your confidence in
those individuals and indicate their importance to the
Value Them Anyway
Your not-for-profit may be unable to compensate employees quite
as well as its for-profit counterparts. But, if your focus is
on valuing and growing your assets — that is, your employees
— all you need is a little creativity in order to reward them
in many other ways.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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