Keeping staff for the long-term is difficult for any organisation, but high turnover is a pain that many not-for-profit organisations know better than others.
The negative effects of high turnover are numerous and well-documented: lower productivity, declining morale and significantly higher costs to train newcomers. Organisations also miss out on the huge benefit of institutional knowledge when key people leave.
So how can your NFP lower it’s staff turnover rate?
Joel Grossman is the Chief Operating Officer of Location Labs, a US mobile security company that has a massive 95% retention rate. 95%!
He shared his insights with First Round Review about how he’s built a high-retention culture at his company, and how other organisations can do the same. Here’s what he suggests:
What does a a low-turnover culture look like?
The first thing to understand about retention, Grossman says, is that you can’t simply count the number of people leaving and call it a day. Instead, you need to look at some internal indicators as to why your attrition rate might be high.
For instance, how are people interacting with management? Are they friendly, or do you notice resentment?
How many referrals from current team members have you received for new roles? This can a be a good indicator of how many employees would recommend your workplace to others.
What about conflict resolution? How are disagreements handled and resolved? Having open communication and rigorous, healthy debate about decisions is important. Do people feel free to challenge each other, and are they able to speak honestly?
Recruiting for high retention
So once you know what a low-turnover culture looks like, how do you start to build one? According to Grossman, it starts with recruiting staff who are more likely to stay in your organisation longer.
He offers five ways to do that:
1) Manage your online presence
Grossman says organisations need to communicate much more about who they are as an organisation and what their values by understanding their culture clearly and creating an honest representation of their values online so applicants know what to expect.
At the same time, be realistic. If your job ads and recruitment pages on your site are too aspirational, you can end up with new hires who will inevitably be disappointed by the reality of their jobs.
2) Make your job ads unique
A job ad and position description are often the first chance someone has to get an impression of your organisation.
Grossman suggests giving them some personality that reflects your organisation, and using them to clear communicate about your culture. You can even run your job ads through your marketing or communication people to make sure they clearly reflect who you are as an organisation – and also who you’re not.
3) Hire for potential over experience
It’s easy to pass over a candidate because they don’t have much experience. Instead, why not look for potential?
In one example, Grossman says his director of software engineering started out working as a financial advisor. He taught himself how to code and the company, recognising how passionate he was about learning new skills, hired him for an entry level role. He was quickly promoted and now leads a huge team.
In fact, Grossman says 30% of hires in 2015 to Location Labs started in totally different roles or fields. That diversity of experience means staff are focused on growing and learning – and are more likely to stay in the organisation where they can experience that new growth.
4) Focus on values during interviews
Location Labs uses a scorecard of the company’s values as part of their assessment of every candidate, to ensure candidates are not just meeting the job’s requirements, but that they also understand and are aligned with the whole company’s priorities.
They then conduct training sessions for all interviewers – twice a year, every year – to make sure they know what the organisation’s values look like during a job interview – and how to look out for them when interviewing candidates.
5) Watch out for candidates who are focused on salary
Some candidates are very focused on a high salary, and organisations can sometimes get trapped in salary negotiations in order to bring on someone they really want. But Grossman says the candidates who are very focused on salary are “not always, but often — those people’s hearts aren’t really aligned with your mission.”
That doesn’t mean you should offer candidates a lower-than-competitive rate – just beware of any candidate who is trying to make compensation the deciding factor on whether they take your job.