Recruiting and retaining talent is a big challenge for nonprofit organizations. With limited budgets and resources, nonprofits find it hard to compete with for-profit companies when it comes to salary. Unfortunately, private companies enticing your employees with better offers can cost your nonprofit its top talent and can lead to a high turnover rate. One way to turn the tide, however, is to provide creative nonprofit employee benefits that contribute to a desirable workplace culture. By nurturing employees’ professional growth, helping them achieve a healthy work-life balance, and, yes, adding some fun, you can attract employees, encourage them to do the work they believe in, and support your nonprofit’s mission with a stable, experienced workforce.

Interestingly, however, Nonprofit HR’s 2017 Nonprofit Employment Practices Survey found that 64% of nonprofits have no formal recruitment strategy, and 81% lack a formal retention strategy. If your nonprofit is one that lacks a solid plan for attracting talent and encouraging long-term careers with your organization, it’s vital that you develop a strategy now that will help you compete.

Use Nonprofit Employee Benefits Surveys as a Benchmark

Creating an employee benefit package is a challenge common throughout the nonprofit world, so turning to industry sources for guidance may help you frame your organization’s policies. For example, PPI Benefits issued a Nonprofit Employee Benefits Report , which shows which nonprofit employee benefits organizations most commonly offer:

Nonprofit Employee Benefit % of Nonprofits that Offer
Group medical 98.7%
Group dental 94.9%
Employer-paid life insurance 92.8%
Paid holidays 93.6%
Flexible spending accounts 74.6%
Sick leave 74.4%
Vacation days 72.4%
Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 68.0%
Personal days 58.3%
Vacation rollover 50.0%
Flu vaccinations 43.4%
Gym membership discounts 38.5%
Paternity leave 36.5%
Bundled paid time off (vacation, sick, personal) 32.7%
Tuition assistance/continuing education 28.0%
Parental leave/elder care 27.6%
Accident insurance 26.7%
Health screenings 18.9%
Telemedicine services 14.8%
Onsite gym 13.9%

Source: PPI Benefits, 2016 Nonprofit Employee Benefits Report

As you build your recruiting and retention strategies, it’s important to select nonprofit employee benefits that support your overall business goals. The PPI Benefits survey revealed that the top objective among nonprofits when selecting benefits is controlling costs (96.7% of respondents) followed by “attracting and retaining employees” (90.1%).

After you have considered the benefits your nonprofit could offer, an added step that could help you put together a truly competitive nonprofit benefits package is to ask your employees for their input. You can gauge the value your employees place on the benefits you’ve selected, with a formal nonprofit employees benefit survey (online templates are available, such as this one from 123 Form Builder) or with informal discussion.

The advantage of asking your staff directly is that their values may not align with national trends, so their insights may be more valuable than benchmarks from a survey.  In addition, since the work and environment of nonprofits can run the gamut, the benefits that would provide your staff with the greatest value may be unique — they may appreciate an additional personal day rather than an onsite gym, for example. Choose a strategy that will support the optimal work environment and encourage long-term employment.

Creative Nonprofit Employee Benefit Ideas

A discussion with your own staff may also inspire some creative ideas for nonprofit job benefits, or more, specifically job perks, that can mean the difference between an employee who is content and one who is looking for employment elsewhere. The annual Staples Workplace Survey revealed that 46% of millennials say more office perks would improve their happiness.

This list of job perks is different from benefits, which are considered part of the compensation package and which employees would probably have to fund themselves if you didn’t provide them. Perks, on the other hand, improve an employee’s quality of life, often without requiring a large investment — or, in some cases, any investment. Examples include:

  • Peer-to-Peer Mentorship
    Build time into your employee’s day to take advantage of your organization’s peer-to-peer mentorship offerings. These programs can help them develop personally and professionally and could also help them advance within the organization. If your nonprofit doesn’t have a formal program, encourage more experienced employees to mentor others — or consider taking new employees under your own wing to help them learn and advance in their skills and expertise.
  • Discounts
    Nonprofit organizations sometimes receive services or discounts from local businesses or have cooperative arrangements with local universities or other nonprofits. You may be able to negotiate those discounts for your employees as well. For example, see if you can arrange assistance with annual tax filing, discounted club memberships, or free or discounted admission to community and cultural events.
  • Volunteer Time
    Your employees, especially those from younger generations, are committed to supporting the causes they care about. Consider giving them a day or two of paid time each year to roll up their sleeves and join a service project. They’ll appreciate your support, and your contribution via volunteer hours won’t go unnoticed in your community.
  • Flexible Time and Telecommuting
    Depending on the nature of the work your nonprofit organization does, it may be possible to allow your employees to adjust their work hours to accommodate appointments or family activities or to allow telecommuting occasionally or on a regular basis. When work and personal schedules conflict, these perks can reduce stress, and result in a happier, more productive employee.
  • Casual Dress
    Casual dress can create a more relaxed atmosphere, as well as reduce your employees’ clothing budget. If casual dress is not practical each day, consider “Casual Fridays” or other opportunities to allow your employees to wear comfortable (yet appropriate) clothes to work.
  • Recognition
    Formally acknowledge employees for the great work they are doing and give them the recognition they deserve. You can compile an internal newsletter highlighting successful projects, establish an employee of the month award, celebrate milestones with years of service gifts, or find other ways to shine the spotlight on employees and let them know they’re appreciated.
  • Relaxation
    Some nonprofit organizations provide services to at-risk individuals and encounter stressful situations on a daily basis, which can lead to quick burnout. Providing activities meant to manage stress and promote relaxation can help. Consider arranging for meditation, yoga, or exercise classes onsite or at a nearby location. You may even have a therapist visit the office occasionally for chair massages.
  • Trainings and Certifications
    Consider covering the cost of required training, such as first aid/CPR, or for certifications your employee wants to pursue professionally. Costs vary, but even if they’re minimal, they may be a financial burden for some employees. Your staff will appreciate your support as they acquire the skills and certifications they need to do their jobs well.
  • Coffee and Healthy Snacks
    If possible, arrange for coffee, bottled water, or healthy options to be available to employees onsite, especially if they’re called upon to work at odd hours or skip meals due to the nature of their work. As a nonprofit, you may be able to purchase food and beverages at a discount.

When an applicant is comparing job opportunities, perks or creative nonprofit employee benefits may be the difference between the job opportunity that you offer vs. what a competitor is offering — and the deciding factor that tips the scale in your favor.

Nonprofit Employee Benefits’ ROI

If you are able to achieve the perfect blend of compensation, benefits, perks and work environment that makes employees want to remain with your nonprofit long term, you will certainly see a return for your investment into an employee recruiting and retention strategy. But what you may not anticipate are the additional benefits your nonprofit organization will receive.

First, happier people are more productive. Research performed by the Social Market Foundation found happier people were about 12% more productive than people who were not happy. You may find that helping your employees enjoy their work more and achieve greater balance in their lives may result in their ability to accomplish more.

In addition, your HR team will have a lighter workload with less recruiting, onboarding, offboarding and other tasks related to high employee turnover. Recruiting may even become easier since employees may make word of mouth referrals to tell others how your nonprofit is a great place to work.

To administer a strategy that provides additional benefits and job perks, you need a full service workforce management solution. Contact the team at Paypro to learn how easy it can be to manage time, payroll, and HR, even with flexible schedules, telecommuting, volunteer hours, and reimbursements for training and certification. Let us help you create the workplace culture that attracts and retains the talent you need to operate successfully.  inquiries@payprocorp.com | 631.777.1100