Retention Challenges

How do non-profits handle retention? Employee retention receives a lot of attention in the for-profit world. However, non-profit leaders often find themselves fully immersed in solving field-related issues, leaving them with little or no time to work on staff satisfaction initiatives. This is only compounded by the fact that non-profits can’t offer the same levels of monetary ROUND TABLE MEETcompensation or benefits provided by corporate or government organisations.

US-based organisation Non-Profit HR’s 2014 survey on Non-Profit Employment Practices found that 1 out 5 non-profits indicated that turnover was “the biggest employment challenge at their organisation.[1]” 32% of respondents said that “the inability to pay competitively” was a strong reason for people leaving.


Insights from Nonprofit HR’s NonProfit Employment Practices Survey:
-Entry and mid-level professionals are the hardest to retain
-Only 17% of organisations have formal retention strategies for 2014

How do non-profits deal with employee satisfaction, retention or attrition rates in a resource effective way? Our Round Table Meet, led by Suresh Raina of Hunt Partners, deliberated this question at length. Suresh had several insights to offer the organisations, some of which are shared here:



  • Screening talent: A critical aspect to be considered as part of the hiring process – how does an organisation ensure it hires people who are likely to remain committed to the non-profit? Suresh felt that organisations need to bear in mind that working in the non-profit space does not suit every individual. A key takeaway was to ensure that the candidate’s personality and motivation fit the requirements of the profile and that candidates were aware of the demands of non-profit work.
  • Psychometric Assessments at joining interviews: Suresh drew participants’ attention to psychometric testing as a method of investigating candidates’ strengths and interest levels. While these tests are not conclusive, they give you a good idea of the individual and whether s/he is a good fit for the work your organisation does.
  • Internships: Internships are another effective method of assessing potential candidates and the roles they can play in your organisation. Several participants felt that a lack of knowledge about the existence of the sector kept people away from joining it. A short-term internship can introduce potential employees to the demands of the role and the organisational culture. (Read our piece on Internships as a source of talent for NGOs here).



[1] Staffing Challenges, NonProfit Employment Practices Survey, NonProfit HR, 2014

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