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How to Keep Your Employee Team and Keep Them Happy

By June 19, 2024No Comments
diverse employees in construction uniform in an article about keeping employees happy and retaining them on the team

Retaining New Hires

Your team is critical to your mission — their effort as part of your organization comes from their belief in the good work it is doing in the world. No matter how driven your team is, however, identifying and retaining hires who will share this motivation, energy, and culture can be difficult. The issue of new hire retention goes beyond the nonprofit space, as many organizations in the private and public sectors have seen an uptick in turnover among new employees, sometimes even those who have been at the organization for less than a week.

This kind of turnover can be devastating, as there is a high cost to hiring employees that can reach up to 33% of their salary by some estimates. For nonprofits, this represents a huge risk, as not being able to retain new employees can make your mission much more difficult, tax the rest of your team members beyond their limits, and force you to expend greater resources to recruit.

However, you can tackle this before it becomes an issue by examining and improving your recruiting and onboarding process. Here are some key things to look at:

Reexamine your recruiting strategy

Recruiting can be a challenge for even the most well-resourced organizations. This has become especially true over the last few years, as even entry-level roles often require a high level of technical skill and familiarity with a growing number of tools and platforms. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the expectations of many on the job market, with things like remote work and a strong benefits package becoming must-haves for many in the job market.

You should look closely at how you are recruiting and how you found your most long-tenured employees. Are you relying heavily on word of mouth to find candidates, thinking it best to hire from within the nonprofit space? Or are you investing in hiring from the public and private sectors, enticing potential hires with the prospect of a more altruistic role and mission?

Over-reliance on one method of recruitment, one process, or a singular set of characteristics can narrow your choices too much, forcing you to hire someone you may not be certain of. Conversely, having too broad a search can overwhelm your hiring managers with candidates, rushing the process and reducing the chance of a good culture fit.

Remember, the recruitment process is the first impression you give to new hires. A rushed, overly-involved, or confusing process can set up your new hires to feel doubt about your organization, even if they accept a job offer. Gathering data and iterating on these recruitment practices can be a worthy investment if it prevents new hire turnover.

Manager onboarding a new hire in an article about retaining employeesReview your onboarding process

Despite the aforementioned issues with new employee retention, many organizations profess a lack of interest or investment in the employee onboarding process. Perhaps overinvesting in talent acquisition and not talent retention, only four in ten organizations consider onboarding an area of focus for their HR team. Given that 20% of turnover happens within the first two months of employment, it stands to reason that the onboarding process, or lack thereof, is a major factor. Here are some of the common issues employees have with onboarding, and ways to address them:

Overwhelmed by new tools and platforms

A subject of both frustration and humor at modern companies is a constant change in platforms and tools. The growth of the tech industry startup model created a huge selection of companies and tools which often look to solve the same problem. These companies battle for adoption, offering incentives to anyone looking to try their platform. Although they may offer a good deal, constantly changing payroll and HR tools, CRM tools, email clients, analytics programs, and anything else can be confusing for even long-tenured employees.

There’s an inverse relationship between the number of platforms and their effectiveness in the eyes of employees. For a new employee, this can make the first couple months of work extremely stressful, as they have to learn a whole range of new tools before they are able to do the job they were hired for. To address this, you should ensure that they are given the instruction and time to learn, and only required to onboard with those platforms they need to use. Additionally, you can take this opportunity to address any potential bloat in the number of tools your company uses.

Given too much, too soon

For many new employees, particularly those who are backfilling recent departures, their first few weeks or months can involve “tests” or a “trial by fire” approach. They are given, sometimes intentionally, more than they can handle as a way to gauge their abilities and dedication. While some may thrive under these pressures, many do not, as they may feel they are being set up to fail.

Even if you are simply trying to relieve burdens other team members have had to take on, overloading a new hire can erode their confidence and leave them feeling disillusioned with their work. It’s important to give new hires easy wins early on to build their confidence and sense of place in the organization.

Having their insights and perspectives ignored

Although they may be unfamiliar with your organization, new hires have something invaluable that you and your long-tenured team lack. Their perspective as a newcomer will allow them to view the status quo more critically, pointing out potential issues you may not see. Because they are not invested in the standards you have set just yet, they can offer useful observations and challenge dated practices and assumptions. Even if this perspective is not something you can always act upon, it is a good idea to let new hires speak their mind and feel their insights appreciated.


For more than 40 years, 501(c) Services has been a leader in offering solutions for unemployment costs, claims management, and HR support to nonprofit organizations. Two of our most popular programs are the 501(c) Agencies Trust and 501(c) HR Services. We understand the importance of compliance and accuracy and are committed to providing our clients with customized plans that fit their needs.

Contact us today to see if your organization could benefit from our services.

Are you already working with us and need assistance with an HR or unemployment issue? Contact us here.

The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.


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