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Employee Turnover: What can you REALLY do about it?

retention Nov 17, 2021

So, you notice a problem with employee retention, and you wonder, “What can I actually do about it?” Many of the factors that contribute to employees making their next career move are outside your control. Especially in today’s environment when opportunities appear to be more plentiful and many people go looking just because it’s interesting to see what’s out there.

With limited resources, high demands that stretch your team’s capacity, tight deadlines, and leading a small organization without a “ladder to climb” it’s easy to focus on what can’t be done.

What if you can’t afford to pay people more?

Your budget is fixed. You know it’s dependent on donors. You’re aware your people can probably get a better paying job elsewhere. You realize you don’t have the money to pay people to stay. So, what can you do? Turns out small organizations have an advantage. Typically, they can shift quickly without a lot of red tape. They can more easily offer intangible benefits such as schedule flexibility, activities/events that meet a person’s felt needs, or career expanding learning opportunities. Looking at ways you can implement a small shift can lead to a powerful impact.

What if you can’t compromise the mission even if your team’s capacity is limited?

For many nonprofits the mission is both critical and compelling. People joined the team because of the compelling mission. The drawback is that the mission can drive you to burnout if it’s too lofty. With limited capacity it’s hard not to let the needs push you and your people to the brink. Frustrations heighten. Personality clashes all of a sudden are more acute. Families may suffer when evening and weekend work become the norm. Burnout is a big reason people leave. So, notice how hard people are working. Find ways to shift work around. Stop unnecessary tasks and activities. Rethink how you are doing things so that your people don’t start looking for something with better work/life balance. 

What if you can’t offer opportunities to advance someone’s career?

Many small organizations are “flat” with little opportunity to climb the traditional career ladder. This limitation can lead your people to look outside your four walls for their next career move. Stay in touch with their career goals and how they want to grow. Look for ways to nurture growth with special assignments, mentoring with a board member, or seek to provide life giving training opportunities. An opportunity doesn't have to be a promotion to entice your people to contribute their gifts and talents in new and broader ways.

 The perception can be that your hands are tied as you face the many limitations of being a small organization. Let’s untie those hands and see the possibilities that might be available for you to overcome the risk of turnover impacting your organization.

Next Steps: Think small

I know, you might have heard “think big”, yet when it comes to what you can do about employee turnover, it’s usually the small stuff that has a big impact. When you know the people on your team, you can cater your solution to what your people need. You can be specific and not just generic. This is where your greatest impact will be: a customized solution.

 So, how can you create your one small thing that can have a big impact?

  1. Check out last week’s blog about finding out what’s important to your team.
  2. Examine this feedback in terms of these three areas: Pay, Capacity, Opportunities
  3. Notice which area gets the most feedback 
  4. Think about one small thing you could adjust in that area to offer creative benefits, encouragement or opportunity.

I know it can be a busy season for many nonprofit organizations who are in the push for year end giving or small businesses trying to wrap up their fiscal year well. It’s easy for retention and noticing what your people need to fall to the back burner. In busy times it's actually your greatest opportunity for a small thing to have a big impact. Your people are feeling it right now, and a simple shift can be enough to engage people and invigorate them to continue in the pursuit of the mission of the team. Need some ideas on your small thing? Stay tuned for the next few blogs as we get practical on your retention strategies or set up a FREE 30 minute strategy session and we can get started today.

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