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Hiring and Onboarding Strategies for Nonprofits

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by Laura Achee, Great American Insurance Group

We know hiring and retaining employees remains a critical component to a successful and growing nonprofit. It’s important to regularly evaluate your recruitment and onboarding procedures. To attract and retain employees in today’s competitive job market, nonprofit leaders should consider focusing on these three critical steps:

  1. Understand recruiting essentials
  2. Foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture
  3. Build an engaging onboarding plan

Understand Recruiting Essentials

Good or bad, your brand is the first impression potential employees will have of your organization. When job seekers identify with your employer brand, including mission and core values, you can attract higher-caliber candidates quicker and cheaper. The pandemic did bring positive changes in recruiting strategies. Virtual interviews allow organizations to search wider geographic areas for candidates that are willing to relocate or work remotely and bring time efficiencies with them.
Set the right tone for your interview process by:

  • Creating a sense of privacy
  • Using an open communication style
  • Creating an environment that encourages honesty

Promote a diverse and inclusive workplace culture

All organizations can benefit from the varied contributions of experiences, perspectives, skills, talents and values of a diverse workforce. Diversity and inclusiveness are also key to employee retention. If the leaders you recruit and retain are part of the dominant social group, then you could expect to continue running into diversity barriers. When building out an inclusive workforce, it matters where you seek candidates, what you prioritize in your ads and screening process, and what happens after the interviews. To avoid the same traps, work on these essential areas for improvement: Be honest about your current culture. Look for culture add instead of culture fit. Culture add means hiring people that bring something new to the table, instead of perfectly matching the current team. Look to DANA’s DEI section for additional resources on this topic.

Develop impactful onboarding plans

Your onboarding plan needs to meet state and federal requirements, more importantly, it needs to create buy-in for new employees by tying their role and responsibilities to the wider mission and impact. Schedule important meetings with important team members, give them a tour of their new workplace (even if it’s virtual), and let them know that you are excited that they’re there. An engaging onboarding plan should have goals and role-specific training with due dates and regular check in’s on progress. In general, it’s critical that all employees feel connected to their organization and its culture. Leaders have to proactively ensure that new members of the team are actively included throughout the onboarding process. New hires should receive consistent updates on various department goals and priority projects to help remind them that they are part of a bigger picture. Finally, employers should take the time to schedule team buildings—virtual or in-person—in order to help keep employees engaged (and give them mental breaks from the day-to-day grind).


The last thing I need to touch on is how these strategies can directly impact the unemployment costs to your organization. The Federal Government gives nonprofit organizations the right to opt out of paying state UI taxes. Lower turnover makes your organization a better fit for the reimbursing option for unemployment. Great American can provide you with a cost-effective alternative to paying state unemployment taxes so you can allocate more money towards your mission.
Our program cost saving services including:

    • Professional Claims Administrators
    • HR Compliance Tools
    • Re-Employment services.

    Learn how Great American could help save you money. Click this link to get connected with one our experts.
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