By James D’AmbrosioJamesProfile1Twitter

Nonprofit HR Solutions, a consulting firm serving nonprofits, in conjunction with The Improve Group, has published the 2013 Nonprofit Employment Trends Survey, outlining current employment practices and discuss the economic trends and implications of employment practices. Data, gathered from nearly 600 nonprofits across the U.S., focused on staffing, recruitment, and retention practices in four areas: 1) staff size and projected growth; 2) recruitment strategies and budgeting; 3) staffing challenges; and 4) staff resource management. The report also includes input from interviews with HR professionals regarding current employment practices and employment trends, to provide context.


1) NONPROFITS PLANNING FOR GROWTH: 44 percent of nonprofits plan to create positions this year, up from 33 percent (2011) and 43 percent (2012). Only 7 percent are planning to eliminate positions in the coming year.

2) TURNOVER EXPECTED TO REMAIN STEADY: 87 percent of respondents indicated they do not anticipate turnover rate increasing in the year ahead. While retirements and voluntary resignations remain flat, there’s a continued small increase in involuntary terminations — 2 percent two years ago, 5 percent last year, and 7 percent in 2013.

3) NONPROFITS UNPREPARED FOR LEADERSHIP SUCCESSION: 69 percent of nonprofits did not have a formal succession plan for senior leadership. As the baby-boom generation of leaders retires, lack of a plan may compromise ability to prepare for major transitions.

4) MAJORITY OF NONPROFITS DO NOT HAVE FORMAL RETENTION STRATEGIES: 90 percent of survey respondents had no formal plan for retaining staff. Agencies noted the top three areas of growth — direct services, program management/support and fundraising/development — are also the areas facing the greatest challenges with retention.

5) SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES CONTINUE GROWTH AS RECRUITMENT TOOLS: A 25 percent increase using LinkedIn and 30 percent increase using Facebook as recruitment tools compared with last year’s survey. Since just 20 percent (1 in 5) agencies reported having a formal recruitment budget, social media can be a low-cost option for advertising positions.

6) AGENCIES CONTINUE STRUGGLING WITH WORKFORCE DIVERSITY/INCLUSION: The greatest challenge reported was retaining staff under age 30 (38 percent, up from 30 percent the previous year); followed by staff reflecting the composition of the communities they serve (32 percent); and balancing ethnic/cultural diversity, 26 percent, down from 30 percent last year.

7) NEW HIRING PRACTICES SHOW EFFORT TO AVOID EMPLOYEE BURNOUT: Over the last three years, the percentage of nonprofits adding staff to support new initiatives rose from 29 percent (2010) to 37 percent (2013). Conversely, the percentage of nonprofits using existing staff for new programs dropped from 57 percent (2010) to 48 percent (2013), as agencies realize employees are at capacity.




What finding(s) do you think are most significant? Why?


By James D’AmbrosioJamesProfile1Twitter

When it comes to delegating work to a colleague or subordinate, a football analogy is instructive. Suppose you’re head coach of a pro football team (11 players on the field). You can’t play the positions for them, but you can maximize performance by putting them in the best possible position to make impact plays that help the team win. You must make calculated, measured decisions based on your knowledge of each player and the opponent.

In the workplace, you have choices. If you’re in management, it’s tempting to do some of the work of a subordinate when you know you can do it better. While this can work, it’s not sustainable long-term — you won’t have time for your own work, and risk burnout and/or exhaustion.

What’s needed is a reasonable balance. Below are some ways to delegate in certain situations and have more time for your own work.


1) NEW TASK FOR JUNIOR EMPLOYEE: Try a three-step approach: 1) perform the task while the employee observes; 2)do the task together; 3) have the person perform the task independently until they’re proficient.

2) PROJECT FOR EXPERIENCED STAFFER: Meet and determine what’s needed — time, personnel, budget. Provide resources and step back. Let the person decide how to approach and complete the work. Resist micromanaging; instead, set checkpoints along the way to gauge progress and/or make adjustments. As long as work is of good quality, completed on time and on budget, the process is not important.

3) NEW SKILLS FOR A GROUP: When 15 or 20 people need to learn a new technical skill, consider outside trainers to provide on-site instruction. Manage to ensure quality —  effective learning, good resource materials, and access to support. Select days and times best suited to your agency’s workflow.

4) TRAINING A NEW HIRE: Ask a colleague with requisite knowledge of the position to mentor the new person  until they’re settled in. Meet in advance and determine objectives. Afterwards, confer with the new employee and ensure they’re comfortable. 

The importance of delegating cannot be understated. It helps staff grow professionally by expanding their skills and learning to work independently. This can’t happen if you always step in. Nonprofit managers already have a full plate. Try not to add to it.


What is your perspective on this issue? Other helpful ideas?

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