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The battle for top talent NFPs vs private sector

3 min read

Contrary to the last few years, in the face of an economic crisis and increasing equilibrium between job vacancies and candidate supply, job security has inevitably come to the fore of candidates’ minds.

This focus on the long-term is a good development. Rather than focusing on short-term monetary gains through a string of successive employers, candidates are carefully considering their choice of employer and looking towards future career stability rather than a short-term fix.

In this context it is easy to see how the not-for-profit (NFP) sector’s reputation for job stability is achieving mass appeal. In addition, non-monetary benefits have also grown in importance to candidates, with training and development, additional annual and paid maternity leave, and clear career advancement opportunities adding to the NFP sector’s appeal.

Attracting and retaining staff
How can NFP employers take advantage of the increased interest in their vacancies and translate these popular features into attracting and, importantly, retaining these skills once the economy again stabilises?

Firstly, good retention starts with good attraction, and the first rule of attraction is careful planning. To ensure you recruit the very best option, develop a workforce plan by defining core behaviours and competencies required, as well as a clear idea of what constitutes ‘cultural fit’ for your team.

The next step is the communication and promotion of your workforce plan. This involves the creation of promotional materials, including up-to-date website information. One of the barriers often encountered in this process is the confusion between recruitment and HR. It is important to acknowledge that recruitment is largely a sales function, necessitating a sales-based approach to communication. Do you ‘sell’ the benefits of working for your organisation or do you simply provide a bulleted list of the required skills and experience?

Communication and promotion does not stop there. Encourage your leaders to get involved by becoming speakers at educational institutions, industry forums, careers fairs and community events.

Commit to developing the management team’s networking skills, including increased focus on keeping in touch with satisfied former employees, who can be a fantastic source of recruitment. Create an employee referral program and reward your sources for effective hires.

Finally, ensure you maintain momentum throughout the recruitment process. The process should be easy and convenient for your prospective employees and it is important that you inform and reassure them at every stage. Your recruitment process should reflect your organisation’s values, and should equally communicate a positive message that ‘sells’ your organisation.

Why people look for new work
Once you attract candidates to your business, how do you keep them happy, motivated and retain them – particularly once the economy improves and salary competition again becomes a motivating factor?

We recently asked over 600 candidates why they were looking for a new job. By identifying the common reasons people decide to look for a new job, organisations can focus on preventative strategies and work towards keeping their existing talent. The results were quite revealing:
1. Lack of career progression
2. Seeking new challenges
3. Salary
4. Lack of training or development opportunities
5. Poor management
6. Too much stress
7. Travel time too great
8. Seeking to specialise in a particular field
9. Poor work/life balance
10. Office politics.

This survey clearly shows that a big part of retaining staff is giving them the opportunity to grow and develop their careers within the business. Linked to this is the importance of providing new challenges to staff. Many candidates surveyed said they felt stale or bored in their current job and felt they were not going anywhere in their role. Formal performance feedback is critical and an excellent opportunity to ensure talent is engaged and these issues addressed.

While these are clear messages for any organisation wanting to retain their skills, it is important to remember that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to retention will not work for all employees. Both employers and employees should communicate expectations, and organisations should recognise and utilise the unique talent of each staff member.

With the NFP sector gaining a name for itself as an employer of choice for those seeking work/life balance and a desire to contribute to their community, now is the perfect time to revamp your recruitment strategies and secure and retain those top performers.

Recruiting and retaining top talent is always competitive, and it is important to be responsive to changes in market conditions as well as changing needs within your own organisation. Above all, you must maintain a dialogue with your current employees and new prospects to ensure your offering remains relevant.

Kathy Kostyrko is a Director at specialist recruiter Hays.

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