With limited resources and additional scrutiny, managing employees at not for profit organisations comes with extra challenges.  Being able to understand and empathise with the difficulties service users face and attracting and retaining the right workforce to do this is key to delivering your mission.  As is the effective management of your volunteer workforce.  Get these critical factors wrong and it makes it difficult for you to operate effectively.  This article explains how to overcome three of the biggest human resources issues faced by not for profit organisations.   

Diversity

The problem

According to the NCVO, the typical voluntary sector employee is predominantly female, slightly older and university educated.  While the trend towards an ageing workforce is in line with other UK businesses, the racial profile of voluntary organisations is not. 

Only 9% of employees in not for profit organisations are non-white, whereas public and private sector workforces are more diverse with 11% and 12% from black and ethnic minorities respectively.  Add to this the fact that only 35% of the charity sector workforce is male and it’s clear there’s a diversity issue.

Why is this a problem?  Organisations that service diverse communities need to interact with a broad base of service users and understand and reflect the needs of the group.  Charities that employ a range of people from different backgrounds are better equipped to do this and they also benefit from more diverse thinking.

The solution

Bringing new blood into organisations relies on your recruitment strategy.  If you often recruit via word of mouth or through referrals from existing employees, you’re likely to get CVs from people similar to your current personnel.  Try advertising on diverse job boards to attract different demographics or use social media to target and drive specific populations to the careers section on your website.

Assess which jobs genuinely require a degree; where it’s not necessary to have one, remove this hurdle from your person specifications to open the door to different people.  It can be tricky to get this right and remain legal, so work with a specialist HR provider to support you.

Attracting and Retaining Talent

The challenge

Once upon a time, not for profits could rely on commitment to their cause to attract and retain employees.  But, in recent years, the landscape has shifted with industry-wide data suggesting that charities are starting to compete with private sector benefit packages.  While salaries remain lower than in other sectors, ensuring your reward package is competitive without breaking the bank is key.  

The solution

Rather than guessing what the market pays, source voluntary sector market data to provide you with the salary and benefit information you need.  There are many benefits to paying for sector specific data:

 

-It stops you over or under paying on salaries and benefits so you can attract and retain effectively
-You can spot trends and changes in the data so you can lead, lag or keep abreast of the market in line with your HR strategy
-By comparing reward packages with other not for profits, you’re competing with the right organisations on the same financial basis
-You’ll benchmark or job evaluate roles in a fair and consistent manner
Market data provides a solid rationale when gaining reward package approval from trustees and compensation boards

 

As with other organisations, people don’t join and stay solely for pay and benefits.  Not for profits have historically been good at providing employees with flexible working and job-sharing arrangements and career breaks.  It’s important to maintain broader benefits like these as they allow you to take a strategic Total Reward approach that can be designed to appeal to the right employee demographic. 

Managing a Volunteer Workforce

The problem

It’s estimated that 14.2 million people formally volunteer at least once a month in the UK.  Managing this workforce is critical, but as with any organisation, managing people is not straight forward. Volunteering Waikato lists ten of the most common volunteer complaints, five of which are people management problems:

-lack of organisation
-being asked to do something other than what the volunteer signed up for
-being asked to take on extra jobs
-volunteers don’t feel they’re making a difference
-volunteers are micro-managed and not trusted

The solution

At the heart of the solution are good people management skills. While salaried employees turn up to work (in part) for pay, volunteers do not.  This means you need to treat them even better than employees.  Because the work itself is the primary reason they volunteer, get everything around this right and you’ll keep them coming back.

Consider writing volunteer job descriptions so people know what’s expected of them.  This will also help your volunteer managers or team leaders to assign appropriate work.

 

-Get organised
No-one likes to give up their time only to find it’s being wasted through poor organisation. Ensure volunteers know where to be, what they’ll be doing, when and how, to maximise use of this resource and make them feel you respect their time.

-Specify job roles
Consider writing volunteer job descriptions so people know what’s expected of them. This will also help your volunteer managers or team leaders to assign appropriate work.

-Recognise and engage
Volunteers have offered to work for you for free because they believe in what you do. Help them feel that their time has been well spent by:
explaining how that day’s activities contribute towards the organisation’s overall mission
thanking every person every time for their help
sending out letters or cards of thanks annually
hosting an annual social for volunteers to thank them for their contribution

-Training and support
It can be tempting for team leaders to feel they need to micro-manage volunteers because they’re new or considered to be less effective than a full-time employee. Where necessary, training volunteers will ensure your organisation manages risk and governance issues effectively and will help project leaders feel more comfortable with the skills of their workforce. Invest in training your managers and team leaders to help them find different ways to manage people. Combined with improved organisation and volunteer job descriptions, those leading activities will feel they can take a more hands-off approach.

It can be tempting for team leaders to feel they need to micro-manage volunteers because they’re new or considered to be less effective than a full-time employee. Where necessary, training volunteers will ensure your organisation manages risk and governance issues effectively and will help project leaders feel more comfortable with the skills of their workforce. Invest in training your managers and team leaders to help them find different ways to manage people.  Combined with improved organisation and volunteer job descriptions, those leading activities will feel they can take a more hands-off approach.

Deal with these key people issues to make your not for profit organisation an employer of choice with room for people from all walks of life.  Not only will you attract and retain the best employees and volunteers, but you’ll have a motivated workforce who are ready and able to serve your beneficiaries.

If you need specialist HR support for any of the issues covered in this article, get in touch by calling us on 0330 555 1139 or via email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.