Nonprofit Talent Trends for 2019

by Barry Elkus

The talent shortage we’ve experienced in recent years continues to deepen and we don’t believe it will ease for the foreseeable future. Many of the strategies used to attract and retain employees in recent years are no longer as effective, and nonprofit organizations are finding they have to work even harder to compete for top talent. Here are some of the major talent trends we anticipate for 2019:

Salaries will continue to rise. The summer of 2018 brought the strongest salary gains for workers in a decade, and in our practice we’ve seen a dramatic increase in executive salaries. Nonprofits of all sizes cite limited financial resources as a key obstacle to recruiting and retaining talent, but some are exploring additional benefits other than compensation to attract workers.

Organizations will add more creative perks. Whether or not they can compete on salary, we’re seeing many nonprofits boost benefits to entice new talent and retain current employees. Flexible work schedules remain popular and health-related perks and increased PTO time are on the rise.

Efforts to engage employees will continue to accelerate. The number of employees voluntarily leaving their jobs rose in 2018 to the highest level since 2001. This is due in part to the ease in finding new work as well as the increase in wages. To retain employees, we expect even more organizations to invest in leadership development and mentoring as well as coaching at all levels-including front-line workers. An investment in development and engagement beats the high cost of employee turnover.

Organizations will do more to assesses and then change their culture. According to the 2018 Nonprofit Talent Management Priorities Survey, 65% of nonprofit organizations survey listed either assessing or improving organizational culture as their top culture and engagement priority. We’re seeing more organizations objectively measure their current culture, decide what they want their culture to be, and make the changes needed to strengthen and develop it. The use of assessments, already increasing, will continue to grow-with current employees as well as potential new hires. Many of our clients are using assessments in the hiring process and we expect expanded use for culture improvement and leadership development.

Companies will pay more attention to their employer brand. With so much online information from sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn and even Facebook and Twitter, job seekers have plenty of ways to learn about an organization and its culture. In today’s candidate-driven marketplace, even mission-focused nonprofits must make a case for why they are a great place to work and that means thinking about every part of the HR process through a marketing lens.

What do you think? Are these trends relevant to your organization or are others taking top priority? If you’d like to talk about your organization’s most pressing talent issues, let’s connect over coffee. You can reach me at