This article covers the basics of employee retention in nonprofit organizations.

Employee Retention – Nonprofit Catalog

Maintaining a strong employee base is critical to keeping your business or nonprofit strong. Your business’s hard-working, dedicated employees are your greatest assets, and ideally, you want them to stay with your company for a long time. After all, the hiring and training processes are expensive and time-consuming, so high employee retention is essential.

What is employee retention?

Employee retention is the ability of an organization, such as a business or nonprofit, to keep its employees year after year. Maintaining high levels of employee retention means that your organization is doing an effective job of appealing to employees’ needs and interests.

In order to calculate your employee retention rate, subtract the total number of employees who left your organization from your total number of employees. Then, divide by your total number of employees and multiply by 100.

This equation is for calculating your employee retention rate.

Benefits of a strong employee retention rate

You may be thinking: what’s the point of having a high employee retention rate? After all, you could simply fill those vacant roles again. However, a high employee retention rate has many benefits for your organization, including the following:

  • Reduced costs for your organization. Hiring new employees is expensive, and so is training them. While a new employee is in training, they will take time to become familiar with your systems and procedures, making your organization temporarily less efficient. By retaining your employees, you won’t have to spend as much time and money on the hiring and training process.
  • Stronger employee skillset and greater organizational efficiency. Having been trained in your organization’s systems and after fulfilling their job duties for years, your employees will be more experienced in their roles. They will have spent their time practicing the skills they need to succeed at their job. Retaining these employees will make your organization as a whole more effective and efficient.
  • Greater employee morale. No employees want to work at an organization where their coworkers leave on a regular basis. Knowing that your company has a high employee retention rate will lower your employees’ stress, increase their morale, and reduce instability at your workplace.

Having a strong employee retention rate may even set your organization apart from others. This means that if you do have to hire new employees, more people will be happy to work for you and your applicant pool will be much larger.

How to strengthen your employee retention rate

Improving your employee retention rate starts with creating a better experience for employees and investing in their long-term growth. Consider using these employee retention strategies at your organization:

1. Invest in employee engagement

To inspire employees to stick around, you need to create a positive work environment. Invest in the right tools to engage your staff members, such as:

  • Appreciation software like a digital greeting card creator
  • Feedback surveys that allow employees to share their thoughts about the company, workflow, or anything else
  • Training programs or coaching courses that help employees grow their professional skills

These tools will make it easier to connect employees with the engagement opportunities that appeal to them. In addition, you can track employee engagement using these software solutions to determine which employees are taking advantage of your engagement opportunities and which opportunities are most popular among your staff. 

2. Help employees set professional goals.

Professional goals for an employee might look like achieving a promotion or advancing their skills. When you help employees set meaningful goals, it gives them something to strive for and look forward to. Make sure that the goals are aligned with your organization’s overarching objectives. Also, schedule follow-up meetings to check progress, offer additional guidance when needed, and let the employee weigh in on the process.

3. Offer ongoing opportunities for training and professional development.

When employees stagnate or don’t feel like they’re growing, they may seek employment elsewhere to help facilitate that growth. According to NXUnite, offering ongoing opportunities for training and professional development helps employees avoid burnout and advance in their career path. These opportunities could be in the form of online training modules, professional coaching, or mentorship.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to offer more professional development opportunities for your nonprofit’s employees. You can consider hosting seminars or a lunch-and-learn program to help employees brush up on their fundraising-related skills.

4. Allow employees to attend relevant conferences.

Conferences can be an excellent opportunity to learn more about industry trends, pick up new skills, and make connections with fellow industry professionals. Relevant nonprofit conferences can be found easily through web searches or on social media platforms like LinkedIn. If you’re worried about travel costs, you can search for virtual or hybrid conferences.

5. Offer workplace giving opportunities.

Corporate social responsibility has become increasingly important, and workplace giving is integral to that. In fact, 71% of surveyed employees say it is imperative or very important to them to work at a place where the culture is supportive of giving and volunteering. That’s why you should have programs in place that allow your employees to give back, such as:

  • Matching gifts: A matching gift program shows employees that you care about the causes they care about. Invest in their philanthropic endeavors by starting a matching gift program in which your company will match employees’ donations at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio.
  • Volunteer grants: Some employees may donate their time and efforts to a nonprofit, and your company should support that, too! Establish volunteer grants through which your organization donates a set amount to a nonprofit when an employee reaches a certain threshold of hours volunteered.

You can even decide which programs to implement based on your employees’ preferences. If you want to learn more about your employees’ charitable giving habits (or anything else), you can always ask them directly through feedback surveys.

6. Ask for and incorporate employee feedback.

Employees want to feel like their voices are heard and that their opinions matter. Listening to them will help you improve their experience and may give you insight into issues you didn’t realize existed. Send out regular employee surveys and make a plan to incorporate their input.

7. Recognize your employees’ hard work.

Did you know that 80% of employees would work harder if they felt more appreciated? That’s the power of positive workplace morale! By recognizing your employees’ hard work, you indicate that you care about their contributions and are happy that they’re succeeding, which can lead to improved retention and satisfaction rates.

A few ways you can recognize your employees’ hard work include:

  • Personalized thank-you notes
  • Public praise
  • Employee wall of fame
  • Employee appreciation day

Another great strategy is to send your employees a token of your appreciation. This method is so popular that there are companies dedicated to helping your organization send gifts to your staff members. A gift such as a branded mug, flowers, or even an eCard gives your employees a tangible reminder that you see the work that they’re doing. This appreciation will encourage your employees to remain at your organization.

8. Encourage a healthy work/life balance

Work-life balance means that employees can strike a healthy equilibrium between time spent at the office and time spent outside of work activities that bring joy and fulfillment. 

If your organization operates with a hybrid or fully remote model, finding the right work-life balance can be more challenging for employees. Encourage them to step away from their computers and silence their notifications at the end of each workday to provide clear boundaries between work and home life. 

According to Double the Donation’s employee engagement guide, “a culture of work-life balance should be cultivated from the top down.” That means your company’s leaders and managers should emulate good work-life balance habits by avoiding contacting employees outside of their regular working hours, encouraging employees to take paid time off, and taking time off themselves to recharge. 

9. Promote inclusivity in the workplace

An inclusive workplace is one where all employees feel accepted, welcomed, and celebrated for who they are. 

Inclusivity doesn’t just support employee engagement and retention — it can lead to tangible benefits for your organization. Studies have shown that organizations with high levels of diversity financially outperform organizations without high diversity. 

Foster inclusion and diversity by adopting a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) policy that includes:

  • A clear declaration of your organization’s DEI commitment 
  • Inclusive hiring guidelines
  • Training resources
  • Mechanisms for addressing policy violations

Share your policy with employees to gather feedback and workshop the document until it fully encapsulates your DEI commitment. 

Additional Resources

Nonprofit Catalog – Read up on more nonprofit essentials by exploring our Nonprofit Catalog.

The Top 5 Benefits of Workplace Giving for Companies – Learn more about workplace giving and how it can help you retain employees.

Fundraising Professional Development: Top Tips & Resources – Not sure where to start with professional development? Read this article for more advice.

A Spotlight on Top Impact Investors Driving Social Change – Engaged employees are just one part of growing your company’s impact. Learn about impact investing and how the right investor can help mission-driven businesses accomplish more.