Resource | New Playbook gives non-profit leaders practical tools to retain and develop staff

publication date: Oct 24, 2018
author/source: Lisa Taylor

A new publication is addressing one of the biggest challenges faced by charities and non-profits – how to attract, engage and retain staff beyond training, team-building and one-off rewards.

Retain and Gain: Career Management for Non-Profits and Charities identifies 40+ low-cost tips, activities and actions that Executive Directors and people managers can use, right now. The book provides practical, low-cost or no-cost career management tools that advance thriving careers and build capacity within the non-profit sector.

Retain and Gain includes research, facts and statistics that shed new light on Canada’s non-profit workforce. The Playbook is based on findings of surveys and interviews with non-profit leaders from across Canada, including those in small, grassroots non-profits as well as larger, federated charities.

The research found the following issues keep non-profit leaders awake at night:

• 88% feel unprepared or unable to provide career development opportunities for employees

• 63% worried about attracting talent

• 50% are concerned about compensating and rewarding staff

Some other highlights of the findings:

• Career development is understood to be important. 75% of respondents believed it contributes to better organizational results.

• Fewer than 22% of organizations include career development as part of the strategic planning process.

• 63% of interviewees indicated that they believe managers find career conversations with staff to be challenging.

The research noted the importance of building career competence as a mechanism to build resilience and engagement in a sector that struggles with issues related to balance, burnout and personal advancement. One important finding was the consistent feedback from managers that they felt ill-equipped to manage and motivate teams and, yet, believe that this is a significant part of their role.

The Playbook tackles the myth that non-profits and charities are great at providing jobs but not careers. It points to the parallels with small businesses where owners face many of the same workforce challenges, namely limited time, budget and ability to offer opportunities for “traditional” linear career advancement given relatively flat organizational structures. The book acknowledges elements that are unique to the sector, including concerns about funding and the reliance on volunteers. There are sector-specific sections dedicated to precarious employment, gender-based career patterns and other topics. All of these sections are anchored by easy-to-use planning templates to ensure any manager can translate information from the Playbook into career-building activities and plans to immediately implement.

The Playbook was written by workforce expert Lisa Taylor in an innovative “travel guide” format. Taylor is the founder and President of Challenge Factory. She writes and speaks regularly on the Future of Work, the intergenerational workforce and the changing nature of careers in today’s economy.

Published by CERIC, a national charity focused on education and research in career development, the Playbook has funding and other support from The Counselling Foundation of Canada, The Lawson Foundation, The Muttart Foundation, Imagine Canada and the Ontario Nonprofit Network. The Playbook is available in both English and French and can be downloaded as a free pdf

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