How to Win the War on Talent — Attraction Strategies for Nonprofits
In today’s competitive talent market, it’s important for employers to know what prospective and current employees want in a nonprofit organization. The past 20 months have been unusually stressful, and many employees, as well as job seekers, have taken inventory of what matters most. Two of the biggest attractors for talent right now are workplace flexibility and mental health support. To remain competitive in today’s market for talent, nonprofit employers would benefit from taking this opportunity to reimagine their employee value proposition to incorporate these two key benefits.
1. Workplace Flexibility
Workplace flexibility is no longer just the ability to work from home, but also the ability for organizations to adjust and allow employees to manage things outside of work, such as caring for themselves, their children, elderly parents or pets. Employers who take the approach that employees are people first can shape their policies with the mindset of allowing employees to do what they need to do in all aspects of life. This shows employees and job seekers that the employer understands and values that there are other things in life that support bringing your best self to work.
Of course, performance matters, but if someone truly isn’t getting their work done, it will show. Trust that allowing flexibility with schedules and work location will give your employees the space to thrive, rather than doubting their ability to manage their workload. Nonprofit employers that aren’t showing some level of workplace flexibility will have a very hard time attracting and retaining top talent. For workplaces that require onsite employees (healthcare, emergency responders, hospitality), workplace flexibility may require input from existing employees. Consider holding focus groups or conducting surveys to gather ideas on how you can incorporate more flexibility into the workplace.
2. Mental Health Support
For mental health, it’s about expanding mental health benefits and communicating them regularly. Nonprofit employers should aim to make mental health as important as physical health; these benefits should be positioned to access not only crisis situations but rather as a critical component of employee well-being.
Especially in this industry, leaders should lead by example and encourage others to feel comfortable taking advantage of these benefits without shame. In practice, this could be something as simple as allowing employees to take a mental health day and having leaders take one themselves to encourage their employees to do so. Or, leaders can offer mental health first-aid certification training through which managers/non-managers are trained to identify signs and symptoms of an employee who may be suffering. In this training, participants learn techniques to engage the individual and connect them with resources for support. With mental health being so prevalent in today’s society, normalizing the conversation around mental health and offering these types of benefits will show your employee you care.
So, how do you know where your organization stands? To be best in class, employers should re-imagine what they’re doing today. Consider conducting a market analysis for employee benefits and a competitor analysis around other nonprofits’ workplace flexibility policies and processes. You may also consider conducting an employee survey to learn what matters most to them. This will help inform you how to structure your benefits plans to best fit the demographics of your organization. You can then include a combination of voluntary and employer-paid benefits that address employee needs based on their stage of life.
Additionally, reimagining the employee experience and supporting human resources practices is essential in ensuring employees feel comfortable and cared for. This will be ever-evolving and employers must routinely evaluate and make minor adjustments as new trends develop in the market.
Lastly, nonprofit employers should talk to their benefits broker and leverage their expertise. Work with your brokerage firm to explore alternate funding options to carve out dollars that could be reallocated to other benefits, such as the mental health examples mentioned previously. No matter what you choose, communication is critical, so be sure to have a well-planned communication strategy in place. Communication with employees should be regular and ongoing so all have a good understanding of what benefits are available to them. Consider putting your current plans, policies and practices on your website as well so future talent can see what offerings make your nonprofit stand out. Be proud of your benefits plan and employee experience policies. Let them help you attract and retain the best talent for your organization!
Alison DiFlorio is managing partner of the human capital consulting division at Exude Inc.