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Last updated February 9, 2017

Finding a new job is one of New Zealander’s Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions. However, while finding a new job sounds like an adventure for the job-seeker, it can be a nightmare for your organisation. Not only are there the tangible expenses of finding new staff, there are also more subtle costs such as lost relationships with donors and sponsors.

In some cases there is little you can do to stop your staff from moving on, but often times people leave for reasons you could easily address. Check out these five good ideas for keeping your staff:

1. Explain How Their Contribution Matters
It is important that your staff have clear job descriptions which outline their roles and responsibilities within your organisation, but if you want to really keep your staff engaged, you need to take it one step further. Make sure everyone in your team understands how their input contributes to your overall mission, and why their role is an important cog in the wheel. Even the most mundane jobs become exciting when people understand the impact it has on the bigger picture.

2. Understanding Their Motivators
While most people in the non-profit sector are there because they want to ‘make a difference’, they will all have other, perhaps less obvious factors which drive them to work hard in your organisation. Find out the motivating factors for your staff and reward them accordingly where you can.

Some people may want public recognition for a job well done, or increased responsibility and more challenging projects. For others it might be a desire for increased knowledge or perceived influence amongst their peers. By understanding what drives your staff at a personal level, you can make sure you feed them the right fuel to keep going in your organisation. Rewarding your staff isn’t always about more money.

3. Make It Easy
If you want to keep your staff long term, you need to make it easy and enjoyable for them to do their job. This includes basic things like making sure their work environment is safe and they have the right equipment for the tasks they are expected to carry out. However, making a job easy and enjoyable may also include some flexibility on the part of your organisation.

Perhaps you need to make allowances for sick children or school holidays? Maybe you need to have a space where staff can lock-up their bike if they want to ride to work? Perhaps you need to introduce a flexi-hours arrangement so that staff can attend lectures or workshops for personal study? All of these things can be easily implemented, but you need to know what would make life easier for your staff, otherwise any changes may be a waste of time.

4. Make Sure They Are in The Right Role
While this idea seems simplistic, sometimes people with immense passion for your cause get lost, because they are stuck in a role that no longer provides the challenge, stimulation or reward they need. All that said, once hired it’s unlikely you can simply ‘swap people around’, but by being aware of the issue you can introduce specific tasks or responsibilities that are best suited for individual team members.

5. Let Them Appraise You
Each time you undertake a performance appraisal with your staff, give them an opportunity to appraise your organisation in return. Where can they see areas for improvement? What are 3 things they would do differently if they were the boss for a day? Are there any things your organisation had promised to do, but have fallen short on the delivery? What would it take for them to be 110% happy with their job?

Initially some staff members will find it difficult to answer these questions, as they will feel like they are criticising their employer (something we’re not supposed to do!). Once they realise you are genuinely interested in constructive criticism, they will be more comfortable in giving you feedback. Taking their feedback into consideration will make an immense impact on your organisation.

Kerri Tilby-Price
Kerri is a Facilitator / Trainer with Exult and has over 20 years experience working in and for the community sector.

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