Employee turnover is a long-standing problem within the nonprofit world. Many employees go into this work because of a love for the cause or mission but are deterred from continuing in the nonprofit sector when the organization they work for doesn’t even have a plan for employee retention. Those Nonprofits have a reputation for not being long-standing careers, being poorly run businesses, or paying their employees enough money.

A survey done by NonprofitHR shows these being the top three reasons that their respondents would not work for a nonprofit with “organizations do not pay enough” coming in first place at 49%. Followed by ” do not offer good long-term career opportunities”  with 19%, and lastly “not well-run businesses” at 12%. These numbers do not bode well for the nonprofit sector, especially when, according to ExactHire.com, “the voluntary turnover rate for nonprofits is 19% annually–well above the all-industry average of 12%.” 

Reasons Why Nonprofit Employees Quit

There can be many factors that lead to the end result of an employee making the decision to leave a nonprofit. Here a couple of those influencing factors:

  • Underpaid employees

As mentioned above, being underpaid is the top reason that employees end up leaving a nonprofit position. 

  • No opportunities for growth

Coming in at second place for top reasons to not work at a nonprofit, employees choose to leave because there is no place for advancement. 

  • Being overworked

Nonprofit employees tend to experience burnout at a faster rate than in other fields because of the excessive workloads and inflexible work schedules. This is even more true for employees who quickly become the “go-to” for everything.

  • Being passes up for a promotion

Promoting from within is a key way to increase employee loyalty but many nonprofits do not do this. Employees who have the skills, talent, and expertise for this promotion feel unappreciated and overlooked. 

  • Lack of recognition or reward

Humans love being recognized. Employees do better and continue to want to do their work when they recognized for their efforts from time to time. When an employee feels they are not appreciated despite their best efforts it leads to a decline in work efficiency and eventually leaving.

  • Poor leadership

Leadership makes or breaks an organization, it came in as the #3 reason people leave a nonprofit. If a poor leader is in charge, it harms the entire team and organization. Leadership sets the tone for the whole nonprofit’s success. Even the best employee will fail if there is a lack of proper leadership and vision.

  • Lack of communication

This goes hand in hand with poor leadership, if there is no leadership there is often a lack of communication. This leads to confusion, errors, and just overall chaos in the workplace. 

  • Unpleasant work culture

No one wants to work in a toxic work environment. Having workplace issues is common, everyone is not going to get along all of the time but the workplace should be as drama-free as possible. Creating a good culture among employees takes work but if neglected for too long it will have adverse effects. 

How to Prevent Issues That Lead to Employee Turnover

ExactHire.com says “that only 16% of nonprofits have a plan for employee retention.” This is a very low percentage when turnover is so high for nonprofits. Having an employee quit can have quite a financial impact on a nonprofit organization. Along with the financial cost of losing and then hiring a new employee, is the loss of opportunity. Think about all that could have been accomplished during that time instead of looking for, hiring, and training a new person. Having a plan to help employee retention is essential in keeping your employee turnover at the lowest possible rate. Try implementing these into your workspace to help relieve a few of those reasons mentioned above. 

  • Create opportunities for growth

Employees want the opportunity to grow, develop their careers, and make more money. Find ways to continue to train employees, this can be through mentoring, training sessions, books. Provide employees with secluded 1 on 1 session to discuss goals, progress and provide additional growth.

  • Create a balanced workload

Even if there is one team member who is more capable than the others, don’t overwork them. Give other members an opportunity to grow and develop in their positions. Balance the workload out across the team and help keep your staff from burning out.

  • Have a plan in place for burnout

Burnout is a very common occurrence among nonprofit employees. Nonprofit work is equally as rewarding as it is challenging and having a plan in place to prevent or take care of employee burnout is a priority. Learn about the stresses your employees are under, let them know it is okay to feel that way and share when they do whether that be in a 1 on 1 or in a group setting. Create a plan as leadership or get the input of your employees so when it does happen, there is a way to combat it and not just sweep it under the rug. 

  • Have adequate funding

Lack of funds is a huge factor in employee turnover because it plays a part in pay and properly runs businesses. Finding ways to have adequate funding falls on nonprofit leadership (the board), and they should explore every avenue in order to increase available funds. Whether that be through fundraising, grant funding, sponsorship, or donations.

Employee Turnover Impacts Everyone

While eliminating employee turnover is nearly impossible, make sure that your nonprofit is doing everything in its power to maintain high employee retention rates. This will help in the success of your organization and in accomplishing your mission as an organization. Not only that, it will help in the long run to help reduce training and company costs. By doing everything you can, you help your nonprofit as a whole, not just certain sectors. 

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