Retaining good employees serves both to develop new staff and empower long-term staff. A good retention strategy will benefit your employees and the various constituencies that your organization serves. Whether your organization is large or small, improving retention requires time, energy, and financial investment. The result of this investment will be an experienced and talented staff that could lead to improved customer service and an enhanced ability to respond to future needs.
Retention of quality employees can be improved by focusing on four strategies:
- Combine the responsibilities and strategies for recruiting and retaining employees, especially during the first year.
- Adopt essential best practices for human resources management.
- Create a professional development program for employees at all levels.
- Provide essential staffing resources to executive directors and others on the leadership team.
- Orchestrate meetings between new employees and senior leadership directors.
- Conduct quarterly reviews to ensure a fit between expectations and performance.
- Encourage a relationship between new employees and senior staff by creating a mentor program.
- Create accurate, up-to-date job descriptions to ensure clarity of expectations.
- Complete annual performance reviews for all positions.
- Develop a comprehensive flexible benefits plan and a thorough orientation that ensures employees are informed and encouraged to utilize benefits — especially those designed to improve health and reduce job-related stress and burnout.
- Encourage a balance between professional responsibilities and other life commitments.
- Conduct employee satisfaction surveys and exit interviews to gain perspective on the employee’s opinion about the work environment so that future appropriate improvements can be made.
- When an employee is not the right fit for your organization, promptly implement appropriate administrative actions. Most organizations delay too long, which only serves to de-motivate other highly valuable employees.
- Use outside services and consultants to provide expertise that might not be available within your organization.
Provide professional development programs at all levels:
- Encourage staff participation in academic courses or degrees appropriate to your organization’s mission.
- Augment your current in-house training program by utilizing outside service providers. Employees can gain valuable insight by participating in courses with other similar nonprofit professionals.
- Implement monthly staff meetings for the entire organization or in the largest group possible. The agenda should include recognition of quality performance from each major department, milestones accomplished, and summary reports from clients who benefited from your organization’s mission. It should also celebrate anniversaries of employment to further highlight the value of retention.
- Encourage your employees to read professional literature and books related to the nonprofit field. For example, When Generations Clash by Lynn C. Lancaster and David Stillman is an excellent book for those who work with, service, or raise funds from individuals in different generations.
- Board directors must encourage professional relationships among staff, utilize succession practices, and ensure equity in compensation and benefits compared to similar jobs in the market.
- Funding sources must support appropriate infrastructures to include accountable reporting, expert and effective fundraising tools, and leadership development resources.
- Executive directors must not only develop productive working relationships with their board, but they should also seek professional resources by meeting with nonprofit colleagues and attending events, such as conferences and seminars.