How Nonprofits Can Squash Burnout and Retain Employees

2 min read
Sep 21, 2015

How Nonprofits Can Squash Burnout and Retain Employees by TINYpulseEmployees in the nonprofit sector often feel like Atlas carrying the world on their shoulders. They sacrifice pay for doing the work that they love. They often work overtime, handle new responsibilities, and ignore their personal well-being because of their mission-driven work.

Unfortunately, passion for their work can’t always keep nonprofit employees in their jobs. According to the 2015 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey, 27% of nonprofits reported that their inability to pay competitively was one of their biggest retention challenges. Other retention challenges included the inability to promote and excessive workloads. Here are a few helpful changes nonprofits can make to their retention strategy to reduce attrition and employee burnout.

Succession Planning

Senior positions are often outsourced from other nonprofits, leaving those in the organization’s immediate talent pool feeling dejected. Succession planning cultivates and teaches employees the inner workings of the company.

One effective way to find talent within an organization is through job rotation. Here are a some of the benefits of this strategy:

  • Helps managers identify the strengths and weaknesses of their employees

  • Helps employees explore interests and hidden potential

  • Gives employees new challenges making them more confident and competent

  • Reduces boredom and increases employee satisfaction

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Managing Workloads

It's common practice to divide the responsibilities among a current staff when a position is eliminated. This negatively affects the amount of work employees can do because now they are stuck with higher stacks of paperwork and less time.

Seeking outside help from skilled volunteers and interns can help alleviate some of these stressors. To find your next gifted volunteer, cast a wide net by asking colleagues, funders, even existing volunteers if they know anyone who fits the job’s qualifications. Posting on job sites and even using social media can be a big help when looking for a new recruit. Don’t rush the hiring process because you want to fill the position right away. Creating a due diligence recruitment process is an up-front investment that pays off in the long run.

Telecommuting and Flexible Schedules

Instead of having an employee burn the candle at both ends, nonprofits can benefit by offering flexible schedules or even telecommuting options. Nonprofits may not be able to pay competitively, but flexible scheduling is a great perk that doesn’t cost the organization anything. Long commutes add to the daily stress of any employee. If they can work in a more relaxed environment, their morale will skyrocket.

Offer Benefits

Budget restriction prevents nonprofits from offering competitive wages to their employees. Celebrating special occasions is one way to increase employee recognition. Birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings are special moments that are made even more special with a simple card, letter, or flowers. Benefits aren’t simply monetary.

Professional development activities like seminars and online leadership training are low-cost investments that make workers feel more valued and satisfied. This is not only a great benefit to an employee, but it can provide the right amount of training for that employee to advance in the organization.

Offering flexible options, telecommuting, succession planning, and other creative benefits are an investment in your employees that will boost your long-term retention.



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