The best things your NFP can do to boost staff retention

The best ideas for staff retention- How does your NFP stack up large

Did you know median staff turnover for NFPs in Victoria is as low as 16 percent per year? That means half of all NFPs record turnover of 15 percent or less.

How does your organisation measure up?

Last week, we asked 3,000 organisations in our NFP People community to answer a quick question about the most valuable things they do to retain their best people.

It’s part of our new series of mini-surveys that aim to discover and share how Australia’s NFP organisations do their work.

If you took the time to tell us the top three things your organisation does to retain its most highly valued staff, thank you so much! We had a great response, with input from some of Australia’s top NFPs like GetUp!, RSPCA Victoria and

We’ve now crunched the data and found some really clear – and unexpected – trends, which should leave you with some interesting ideas to apply to your own organisation.

Ready to see how you measure up? Here are the top four things your organisation can do to retain the best people, according to our NFP People community:

1. Offer flexibility

By far, the most highly valued thing NFPs do to retain staff is to offer flexibility in working conditions. A huge 60 percent of respondents cited it as one of the most important retention tools their organisation uses.

Examples of flexibility cited by our NFP People community include family-friendly leave arrangements, the opportunity to work remotely, and offering flexibility around start and finish times.

One respondent said the thing that was most likely to keep them working in their organisation was that “people can decide themselves when and where to work”.

Another said that one of the most important flexibility options their organisation offers is “cloud access to files so staff can work from home”.

2. Provide career advancement and development opportunities

Opportunities for advancement and development are also highly valued among our respondents, with 42 percent identifying them as a key factors in staff retention.

Our community indicated that among the best things their organisation does to retain staff is providing regular training, professional development opportunities and prospects for career advancement.

Some of the best responses said their organisation “ensures there are learning opportunities for staff to develop”, “promotes professional development of members and staff”, and, interestingly, “turns the not-so-best people into the best people”.

3. Cultivate a positive, fun and friendly workplace

Our respondents also value a positive and sociable office environment and atmosphere – 32 percent identified it as one of their organisation’s most effective retention tools.

One respondent said they value their organisation’s “good atmosphere of collegiality among staff, with no obvious hierarchy”.

Other answers expressed appreciation for their close-knit team, friendly and respectful office atmosphere, and the sense of community and belonging fostered in the workplace.

As one respondent succinctly summed it up: their organisation “demonstrates our ‘fun’ value as often – and in as many ways – as we can”.

4. Offer more generous entitlements

Finally, generous leave entitlements, salary packaging and secondments were identified as valuable for retention, but only by 24 percent of respondents.

One respondent even said their organisation offers five days of ‘reflection leave’ for personal reflection activities!

What didn’t make the cut?

Equally interesting were our community’s least popular responses.

Mentoring was recognised by only two percent of respondents as a key way to retain good staff. Likewise, only two percent recognised workplace inclusiveness – like actively recruiting for people with disabilities – as such.

Perhaps the most surprising outcome was that just four percent of respondents identified material perks and rewards (beyond the benefits mentioned above) as an effective retention tool at their NFP.

For example, one respondent said their organisation provided staff with massage vouchers after particularly intense periods at work.

This result runs counter to some recommendations from the corporate world that promote more material rewards as a successful engagement and retention strategy.

Other interesting responses

Here’s a selection of some of the other ideas organisations in the NFP People community shared with regard to retaining their best staff:

“The organisation actively works to identify the Employee Value Proposition.”

“They offer an additional day’s annual leave for every year of service (with a maximum of five).”

“They recognise skills people bring that may be outside their core role, and encourage them to use those skills to benefit the team.”

“Management encourages staff to take risks, try new ways, try new things – some work, some don’t!”

“They encourage people to test out and develop their own ideas and projects.”

So how does your organisation stack up against some of Australia’s best?

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