Strategic HR for Non-Profits

Strategic HR for Non-Profits

The HR department in an NGO plays a very important role in the sustainable growth of the organisation. Even though it is the last go-to department in an organisation, the efficient management of people is the fundamental strength upon which the efficiency of the organisation depends on. A well-equipped HR strategy has the power to build a strong team and have a great impact as compared to perks and compensation as retention techniques.

For the continuous improvement of an organisation, the first thing which needs to be taken care of is Effective Employee Management. To attract, develop and retain qualified & enthusiastic employees, the NGO has to strive a lot, as it is a fact that motivated employees will surely lead any organisation on the path of success. Also, the only way any NGO can retain its employees is by keeping them motivated. But, even though this function seems neglected in the not-for-profit sector, there are some unique challenges faced by the people management department in NGOs.

Key Challenges

1. Attracting qualified and high achievers. As there is no competitive pay packages and perks, it is very tough to attract employees who can take the NGO to greater heights. Usually, NGOs need to please the hearts of people seeking to make a difference.

2. Developing and mentoring employees from diverse backgrounds. An NGO is usually a combination of senior, middle-aged, young, experienced, freshers & homemakers. People with different work cultures and job expectations and career goals can be found in an NGO, making it a challenging mix.

3. Retention: Staff retention in NGOs is one of the major issues that they face. Usually, professionals wish to work for an organisation which will be able to offer them extensive training and development for nourishing their career. But, the truth is that many NGOs are not able to offer this kind of opportunity to their staff. Also, staff fatigue and insufficient pay are problems which are commonly faced by NGOs. Other than these, there are many other factors which usually account for high staff turnover in NGOs.

What should HR do?

It might seem like witchcraft to think HR can offer up any kind of solution to these problems but the truth of the matter is, they can. Given time and support, an effective HR manager can bring a lot to the table to address two of the biggest problems faced by NGOs. So, how can a well thought HR Strategy help?

1. Branding:

In the organisation, the Branding and Marketing team has an important role in presenting the image of an organisation to prospective employees as the recruitment team. To communicate to your talent base in an impactful way, work closely with your branding team. Create a smooth, friendly and transparent candidate experience as it will attract more skilled workers and you will see more such talented applications for the job.

2. Efficient recruiting and onboarding: If you wish to have a good team of employees who work for the upliftment of your organisation, you should know the right candidate profiles which are required and how to find them. To help the new employees adjust with the culture of the organisations faster and set their roots deep into the organisation, developing effective onboarding and induction programs are necessary. The first few months are very crucial in determining how an employee will perform throughout the year. Don’t lose that opportunity!

3. Training and Development:

The strength of an NGO is in how it helps an employee add value to their lives and careers.

You need to understand the reason why people work for you, their career goals, what is your value proposition to them. Formulate your training and development programs as per the organisation’s and employee’s goals. Make sure that they see the job as a long term career and not a short term job.

4. Motivation:

A good HR has the power to create a huge impact on the motivation of the people in the organisation. Motivation is very difficult to be created in a regular company, let alone an NGO. NGOs ought to have an effective HR team so that their people always remain engaged, involved and motivated.

5. Addressing human needs:

If the NGO want to retain their staff, they need to take care of the needs of all the employees, i.e, their human needs. A good HR manager knows what exactly is required to keep someone in the company happily. This is a simple task as long as the human needs of the employees are addressed – needs such as the need to be appreciated, need to belong and the need to feel that the employee is making a meaningful contribution. If an NGO is able to address these needs, the problem of staff retention will be solved in no time.

There are numerous issues and difficulties that NGOs have to face all the time. However, there’s no problem which has to stop them from recruiting highly talented employees or getting stuck with having a high staff turnover.

Therefore, it can be rightly said that Strategic HR, if done in the right way, can work wonders in solving two of the biggest problems the NGOs face in the course of their operation and growth.

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Ms. Nivedita Chandra

IIM Calcutta Alumni & B.Tech Computer Science. More than 17 years of experience in driving HR Transformation across Global and local organisations. Worked extensively in improving employee experience through technology. Industry experience ranges across Automobile, Manufacturing, Banking, Educational, Technology, and Logistics companies.

Leveraging the synergies of both her consulting and leadership coaching experience, she created ValueMined – A Consulting and Coaching firm to mine hidden value of human and digital potential for organisations and individuals.
After 20 years of a corporate & entrepreneurial journey, her biggest achievement is having worked with people across the 6 continents, learning different cultures, ethics and values. She believes that no matter how different we may seem on the outer, we are all the same at our core.