Realigning Staffing Needs With Expectations in the New Normal

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Remember back when pretty much everybody came into the office, every day, to do their job, whether they were a vice president of development or a grant writer or a program manager?

What a difference a pandemic makes.

These days, almost every employee and job-seeker wants the option to work at least partially remotely. Two primary reasons are driving this trend:

  • Better work-life balance. During the pandemic, many people have rearranged their lives in ways that make them happier. Stronger relationships with friends and family, new hobbies, less time wasted commuting: stretched-thin nonprofit employees have found a work-life equilibrium they are hesitant to lose.
  • COVID-caution and family obligations. People are understandably anxious about COVID, especially as new variants continue to emerge. They have concerns about exposure from co-workers, and whether workplaces adhere to public health protocols. Many parents worry about managing school closures and quarantines.

With the Great Resignation still underway, every nonprofit needs to think and act differently in order to retain valued employees and successfully recruit new ones. Here are three steps you should take now.

1. Don’t let myths derail your ability to reimagine and restructure your employee roles and work environment.

Be honest, you can probably list on two hands the tasks your fundraising team must complete in-person. And you’ve likely been giving your development team leaders flexibility for years as they head from meeting to meeting. Now is the time to think hard about what “must” happen in the office.

The pandemic has changed donor engagement forever. Examine your in-person and virtual stewardship activities over the past two years and compare them to gifts from your major donors. You may be surprised what you learn about their willingness to give – even without face-to-face meetings.

Of course, there’s likely some work that must happen in the office. Employees with administrative and operational duties need to check the mail, process donations, and send out thank you notes. In-person team meetings are important, too.

But it pays to think about ways to manage without an everyday office presence. Can tasks be streamlined so they can be completed fully in one or two days rather than in short pieces throughout the week? What about investing in a high-quality printer and postage meter so donations can be processed from home and on time?

Consider these workflows up front and decide what works for your organization. The number of job seekers who say they are looking for remote opportunities is greater than the number of employers offering it. Pre-planning will position your nonprofit to retain your top employees and attract top candidates.

2. Ensure your remote work policies treat all employees equitably and support a shared sense of purpose.

Development, administrative, and frontline teams are always going to have different schedules and workflow, and implementing different – or arbitrary – rules for each team can sow envy or anger.

Plus, it can be tempting to let some employees work from home “because they work better at home,” “because they’re busy,” or for some other well-intentioned reason.

The most effective approach is to ask all your employees what they want to do, listen carefully, promise to consider their input, and then create rules – and determine appropriate exceptions – that apply to everyone. Clearly communicate the work-from-home policy, the decision-making process, and the reasons behind it.

No matter how you work out the details, remember that remote work should not be offered as a reward. Not for seniority, good performance, complicated home circumstances, the need to care for young children or elderly parents, or in lieu of a raise. Remote work opportunities should apply across the board to all employees – nobody “deserves” remote work more than anyone else.

3. Stay true to your mission.

In a values-driven nonprofit organization, it seems only right to use a values-based decision-making framework when developing work-from-home policies. It’s vital to make sure staff members across your organization remain strongly connected to each other, to your programming, and to your mission. Across the board, nonprofits share a commitment to improving people’s lives and communities. Extend that grace to employees with a remote work policy that enables them to be happy, safe, and fulfilled.

Interested in learning more about how to assess your staffing needs and expectations when it comes to remote work? Drop us a line here and we’ll connect you with one of our experts in fundraising human resources.

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