“It’s Not You, It’s Me” 

Watching a great employee walk out the door on to another job is hard. Employee turnover rates seem a consistent trend among both nonprofit and business sectors as technology and culture rapidly evolve.

What to do? Keep that spark alive between your nonprofit and its employees.

When Dan Schwabel of Forbes.com shared The Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2014, “continuous job search” was on the list. Schwabel reports that “73% of workers don’t have a problem looking for new employment before leaving their current employer and 48% of millennials say they conduct job search activities at work.”

The nonprofit sector attracts many people love to be challenged. But believing in a cause is simply not enough for most employees. We know that salary, workplace environment, professional development, flexibility and opportunity for advancement are some of the most essential items employees that value in a place of employment.

It’s not our grandparents’ job market; employees change positions more frequently than ever.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people have about 11 jobs between the ages of 18 and 34. People are going to get even more restless in the future as the internet creates an even larger marketplace for jobs,” says Schwabel.

It takes more than a paycheck to keep employees happy and “in love” with their jobs. Here are five successful employee retention strategies:


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Support. Offer competitive salary and benefits, as well as flexible working conditions. Rigidity is unpleasant. Be supportive of your team’s life outside of work and accommodate schedules for important events, family needs, etc. Flexibility and reasonable compensatory time policies can be viewed as employee perks.

Trust. Exhibit confidence in your employees; trust in their skills and abilities. Offer opportunity for advancement. Challenge your employees by entrusting them with varied tasks and responsibilities. Foster growth. And be a leader worthy of trust and respect. Read: avoid micromanaging.

Communication. Ask your team for input, opinions, and ideas. Actively put those ideas into practice when appropriate, always attributing credit where it is due. Hold regular staff meetings and keep an ongoing conversation open with employees about performance and expectations.

Commitment. No one is perfect. Identify organizational weaknesses and make an honest effort to solve shortcomings. Keep record of turnover rates each year, look for trends, and adjust where necessary.

Invest in your employees and they will continue to invest in your organization’s mission. After all, mission is likely what they love most about your nonprofit.

For more insight into employee retention strategies and trends, check out these helpful resources:

Why Employee Evaluations Matter

Quits are up: 7 Employee Retention Strategies Your Company Must Have

The Top 10 Workplace Trends for 2014

Study: Nonprofits Expect Turnover To Remain Steady in 2013

Stopping the Revolving Door

Sarah is a self-proclaimed cat lady, chocoholic, beard enthusiast, and aspiring writer. She is currently a graduate student pursuing a Master of Professional Writing at Chatham University.