Hiring and retaining the right people can make an organization incredibly successful. Zach Ferres, CEO of Coplex (a fascinating design and interactive agency, btw) wrote a great piece for Entrepreneur magazine about the importance of the Human Element in the work environment. I couldn’t agree more. As cliché as it may sound, people really are the most important resource in an organization – for profit or nonprofit.
With that in mind, what’s the best way to go about attracting and retaining the right talent for your organization? Especially emerging talent – those who are walking the stages at colleges and universities across the U.S. this very month. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, according to Pew Research. And, this trend will only continue as Boomers retire and positions at all levels will need to be filled.
Last year and this, we’ve conducted our own research into challenges facing nonprofit financial professionals across generations. We’ve also looked at the importance of collaboration between finance and accounting departments across generations. Below are five tips to consider when hiring and retaining new talent based on our own studies and general industry best practices:
Opportunities for Growth: While money is an important consideration for all of us (we have to pay the bills, after all), it’s rarely the most important consideration when it comes to workplace happiness. David Pink, in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, takes a deep look at what instills a drive in us to succeed and move forward.
Not surprisingly (or surprising to some), satisfaction is driven by the need to grow and expand our horizons and opportunities. When people are recognized for their contributions and given the opportunity to grow inside an organization, the results can be pretty powerful. Millennials will likely thrive and grow in a nonprofit environment, which often requires professionals to wear many, many different hats.
Service-Oriented Roles: Millennials are the most service-oriented of any generation, according to a Fortune magazine article, which states, “The National Conference on Citizenship reported that Millennials lead every generation with a 43 percent service rate compared to a 35 percent service rate among baby boomers.
Working towards a shared purpose and getting a paycheck to do so is very attractive to this generation. Consequently, nonprofits have a unique opportunity to appeal to the typical Millennial’s passion to serve.
Collaboration is Important: Colleen Dilenschneider, Chief Market Engagement Officer at IMPACTS Research & Development, defines her generation as, “over-educated, hierarchy-denying, collaborative, public service motivated, “super special,” connected, social media addicted, perhaps-a-bit-professionally-high-maintenance, optimistic, parent-loving, digital natives.”
Our research puts meat on her “Know Your Own Bone” blog. For example, based on our collaboration study, Boomers see the nonprofit workplace as highly collaborative, while Millennials see the most room for improvement. Not surprisingly, Millennials had the shortest tenure in a particular role at any given organization – and not just because they’ve only been in the workforce the least amount of time compared to the older generations. The average tenure of a Millennial in a job is about 18 months.
Transparency is Expected: As part of living in a digitally connected, highly social world, everything is shared – sometimes ad nauseam. Want people to know what you ate last night? Check. Want to know where your friends had coffee yesterday? Check. Regardless of what we call it, today’s culture has shifted our behavior toward being more open and transparent – and that behavior also translates to the workplace.
We see it in the behavior of donors as well – younger generations place a much greater emphasis on disclosure, transparency, and impact than do older generations. Sharing openly and honestly with younger employees is not only helpful, it’s expected and can lead to retention and loyalty by providing a sense of ownership and trust.
Amplifying the Brand: It’s not so much that younger generations are all about social media for social media’s sake, it’s that social media and the digital world in which we live are simply an inherent part of our culture and social fabric at this stage. There was a time when owning a cell phone was cool or unique. Now, nobody gives it a second thought.
With that said, the tools that are a part of our social fabric allow us (and our employees) a greater opportunity to amplify our brand and tell a story. Folks want to share good news about the places they work, they want to tell stories, share their experiences, etc. Providing that opportunity, especially for younger employees, can be very powerful.