We know one of the things that keeps nonprofit managers awake at night are concerns about personnel. In the social sector, employees are an organization’s greatest asset. Nonprofit leaders naturally want to get that critical piece of their work right. But this can be particularly tricky in smaller organizations that don’t have a designated human resources manager on staff. Often HR functions are spread out among numerous positions – someone in the finance office does payroll, maybe the office manager posts open positions and orients new employees, and the executive director inevitably handles personnel issues. And this works well enough… until it doesn’t.
The human resources function supports employees’ effectiveness, but it also protects organizations by ensuring compliance with a host of employment regulations. And well-functioning organizations walk their talk or treat their staff in ways that are consistent with their mission and vision. Another way to look at it is that the more effective the human resources practices the more impactful the organization. Even with few resources to address this important component of organizational success, there are a handful of steps groups can take to align basic human resource practices with the values that guide their work.
1. Revisit job descriptions: Job description are often the first hand shake a potential employee has with you organization.
“Make sure your position summaries describe your workplace values and culture. In addition, ensure that the qualifications you require make sense. Review descriptions and make sure they don’t create unnecessary barriers that might keep qualified applicants from applying.”
2. Update the performance review process.
“Be specific in performance reviews. Actual examples are much more meaningful than general observations.”
3. Orient new employees.
“Be sure to go over organizational history, vision and values. Spend time talking about what the language in these statements really means…”
4. Compensation and benefits.
“…compensation is not just about numbers, market data and formulas. It is also about asking the right questions. Finding comparable salary data is only the first step. Translating that data into something meaningful to your particular organization means considering things like:….”
5. Build a culture that supports supervision.
“Provide supervisors with training, not only to develop their skills but also to know how they should be walking the talk around your organization’s values.”