By: Melissa Lagowski
Founder, CEO and Queen Bee, Big Buzz Idea Group
In working with clients, we’ve seen the state of the nonprofit sector evolve. More recently, many organizations are facing a tight job market with a shortage of skilled and experienced workers. Layer in limited budgets and ongoing turnover, and it’s not surprising that nonprofits are feeling the squeeze.
It’s an issue for nonprofits and businesses alike: staff shortages have become the top emerging risk that organizations face globally, according to Gartner, Inc.’s latest Emerging Risks Survey. Sixty-three percent of total respondents stated that a talent shortage was a key concern for their organization, with more than two-thirds of respondents from government and nonprofit organizations specifically saying it was one of their top five risks.
Why Is This Shortage Happening?
The resson behind this staffing issue is multi-faceted:
- Baby Boomers Retiring
With around 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring each day, there simply aren’t enough people entering the workforce to replace them at the same rate. Not to mention, those younger folks just starting their careers are far less experienced (though they may offer a fresh perspective and unique skillset).
- Increased Competition For Talent From The Corporate Sector
While nonprofit hiring has been outpacing corporate hiring in recent years, there is an increase in competition between the two sectors. With the rise in social enterprise and purpose-driven business, people who are drawn to meaningful work – and historically may have gravitated to nonprofit roles – now have expanded opportunities.
- Nonprofits’ Lack Of Resources
From financial constraints to a lack of time to a lack of HR expertise, nonprofits often don’t have the resources necessary to find and hire the right people. Research shows that the top three talent-related challenges for nonprofits are: hiring qualified staff within limited budget constraints, maintaining salary budgets, and finding qualified staff. A majority of nonprofits don’t have a formal recruitment or retention strategy and don’t have plans to change their talent sourcing.
- The “Revolving Door”
Whether it’s due to burnout, not being the right fit, or new opportunities elsewhere, organizations sometimes have trouble retaining staff. A nonprofit’s mission helps spark its employees’ emotional engagement, which is a wonderful thing—until it leads to burnout. As people leave nonprofit jobs, and perhaps the nonprofit sector as a whole, the staffing shortage intensifies.
What Are Some Potential Solutions?
If your organization is struggling with staffing shortages, we’re guessing you’ve been investigating some new avenues. These are the top ways we’re seeing nonprofits find staffing success:
- Focus On Retention
Save the time and expense involved in hiring a new staff member and instead focus on keeping those you already have . What does your staff want? How can you treat them right? Build a retention strategy and foster a workplace culture that reflects what keeps your staff engaged and productive.
- Turn To New Talent Sources
If your usual sources aren’t yielding the right match, look elsewhere. Think about bringing your volunteers (who already know and love your mission) into paid positions. Reach out to recent graduates and identify enthusiastic people who are passionate about your cause.
- Train Your Current Staff
When you can’t find the right candidate or it doesn’t make sense to hire a new staff member, redistribute responsibilities and elevate from within the organization. Provide training for employees looking to expand their skills and give them opportunities to sharpen those skills with new projects and tasks. Nonprofit employees actually want professional development. This route will require assessing current workloads, skillsets, and individual goals, but it can open your eyes to an ideal solution and reinvigorate your staff.
- Outsource Your Needs
Outsourcing is an alternative with some big benefits. Working with an entire team like ours can yield cost savings, offer the expertise of a whole team, and free you from having to search for talent. We understand the nonprofit industry and can help you find efficiencies with our external perspective.
Staffing isn’t easy. (We know this firsthand from hiring here at Big Buzz. We work really hard to find the right people for our own team—and then we work really hard to keep them happy.) But your staff is the heart of the organization, doing the work to further your mission. A staffing shortage is a real challenge, but it’s one you can’t ignore or wait to change. Take action now to create a plan to ensure that you have the resources needed to propel your nonprofit forward.