Finding The Best Talent In A Highly Competitive Environment

Finding The Best Talent In A Highly Competitive Environment

According to Roy Mauer in a blog for Society of HR Management, “Nonprofits should emulate corporate recruiting to compete for talent. Yet, 64% of nonprofits do not have a formal recruitment or retention strategy.”

Profit making companies can spend vast sums to bring top talent into their organizations, but what about organizations with limited funds that must compete for the same talent?    

I believe it is our culture that drives people through our doors. 

Jason Walker, Director of Talent Acquisition at Habitat for Humanity International, believes that a workplace culture that engages top talent requires a well-structured, strategic hiring plan closely tied to the agency’s mission. “In support of our mission,” he states, “we act intentionally to attract talent that has both the values and skills to expand Habitat’s impact and the way we address housing needs.’

The struggle is to know what you need and why you need it, then accept nothing less.   This resonates with me.  I have found that it is MUCH more costly and stressful to an organization to hire the wrong person because we are in a hurry to fill the slot, than it is to wait and find the right person. 

Candance Ho from Whole Whale recommends that, after defining the talent required, an organization create a scorecard that lists all the attributes that it is looking for in an employee, and why those attributes are needed for that position.  Whole Whale’s talent scorecard’s attributes include “efficiency, empathy, analytics, curiosity and a positive outlook.”   At The Fedcap Group we use terms such as: 

    • Passionate: They are driven to create/identify and resource the most effective ways to solve problems for people with barriers.
    • Informed: They are current within their respective fields.
    • Credible: When they speak, people listen because of their depth of knowledge and expertise.
    • Smart and Fast: They can see the end result and take quick, thoughtful and decisive action.
    • Creative: They generate innovative and often unexpected answers to difficult problems.
    • Curious: They thrive on new information and opportunities.
    • Dedicated: They run a continuous campaign to advance the position of The Fedcap Group and the people we serve.
    • Understand the concept of “Good to Great”: They constantly look for opportunities to improve the work of The Fedcap Group, searching for best-in-class practices, but not reinventing the wheel.
    • Flexible: They are able and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
    • Fun: They take their work seriously, but not themselves.

Nonprofits also need to find candidates who care about their mission.  Do they understand what we do?  Can they describe it?  Did they care enough to do the research? 

Critical to finding the right candidate is having the right job description that makes people want to work for our organization.   Recruitment at its core is marketing, and it is smart to engage a marketing firm to review the language in job descriptions. According to Nonprofit HR, the Corporate Leadership Council found that a well-executed EVP (employee value proposition) is invaluable in ensuring that job descriptions stand out.  A good EVP is a simple, focused statement of why someone would want to work in your organization, and according to Nonprofit HR, it can improve the commitment of new hires by 29%.   It can also solidify the organization’s brand and guide its recruitment strategy. “To create an EVP, compile data from employee engagement, onboarding and exit surveys. Identify key trends from among those three types of interactions. This may include information on benefits your employees value, elements of the workplace culture that help them succeed or simply why they enjoy working for the organization.”

We can compete with the for-profit environment—we must leverage our mission, have a smart strategy and tell the story of what we do in a compelling way. 

I welcome your thoughts.

Employee Engagement – The Heart of Corporate Health

Employee Engagement – The Heart of Corporate Health

What is it that keeps employees engaged and committed to working in and contributing to the growth and strength of an organization?  While we all want the obvious job enticements, such as a pleasant environment, good salary, benefits, and challenging work, most of us are driven by something deeper— a sense of purpose, of making a difference. “When people understand the impact of their efforts, it makes the work much more meaningful and it keeps people engaged,” writes Ben Travis, describing eight influential employee engagement trends for 2019.  Travis, the marketing manager of  Bonusly ( an organization founded in in 2012 to help companies foster supportive environments and shared purpose, described employee engagement as “one of the most important differentiators for organizations in 2019, and it’s an issue that nearly every organizational leader has thought about recently.” The goal is to create a culture where employees develop an emotional commitment to their role, their organization, and the people impacted by their work resulting in strong employee retention and productivity.  

Now for the bad news. “Nonprofits trail nearly every other sector in (employee) engagement,” reports Sean Norris in his blog at NonProfit PRO. We come in third behind healthcare and public administration, according to a 2011 survey of non-profit organizations, such as American Cancer Society, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and others, conducted by Opportunity Knocks.  Employees who work in human service nonprofits are often paid less than the private marketplace and deal with clients who are in difficult situations.  They suffer burnout or disengagement and, ultimately, they have higher rates of turnover.

So what can we do about this?  Lindsay Crossland in a 2018 article entitled Five Ways Nonprofits Can Increase Employee Engagement published in Forbes Nonprofit Council suggests that one of the most effective ways is to make individuals more aware of how important they are.  “Show the database manager how she’s helping shelter people at night. Help the accounting clerk realize how he’s making it possible for disadvantaged children to go to college.  Make sure that the receptionist hears the stories of people whose lives are changed because of the work we do.  Without the full workforce behind the cause, there would be no staff to administer programs and no money to fund the opportunities.”

Getting our staff engaged is not simply about employee satisfaction. True employee engagement rarely just happens. It takes a group of dedicated leaders to ensure the engagement of staff.   It takes over the top communication–making sure that the employees are informed and excited about our mission.   As Crossland points out, “If you can get the people behind the scenes as engaged in sharing your story as your fundraising team, think about the possibilities that would create not only for brand awareness, but job satisfaction.”

In her social impact blog, Suzanne Smith claims that “one of the biggest drivers of recruitment to the social sector is passion for the work, but the biggest driver of retention is enjoyment. Employees want to know what they do makes a difference to your clients and communities.  They need to feel a sense of purpose.”

As Ben Travis points out, “Employee recognition is the open acknowledgement and expressed appreciation for an employee’s contributions to their organization, and it’s one of the fastest-growing trends related to employee engagement.”

Technology as a Catalyst for Employee Engagement

Technology as a Catalyst for Employee Engagement

“Networks are the new companies.” –Harold Jarche


Employee engagement is the measure of an employee’s connection to the mission of their organization and commitment to bringing their best every day. Strong engagement means employees feel they have a say in the business of the organization and they feel they are a part of something larger than themselves. Engaged employees are essential to the growth and success of an organization. They will drive innovation, they will be motivated to stretch beyond their limits, and they will act as owners of the business, deeply invested in its impact and success.

Sadly, research reflects that only 30% of employees feel actively engaged with their organization. Fifty percent are passively engaged, and 20% reported that they are “actively disengaged.” A business cannot thrive, and certainly cannot make an impact if these are its employee statistics.

For an employee to feel engaged, they must enjoy ongoing interaction and collaboration with their colleagues. They must be consistently motivated—and challenged—by their colleagues and their leaders. They must feel safe and comfortable in their work environment. They must receive recognition in a way that truly makes them feel as if they are making a difference, and they must feel they can express themselves authentically and make mistakes without fear of reprisal.

The Fedcap Group is comprised of 17 different companies—each with its own mission, and each with its own unique history and culture. Our geographic footprint stretches—for now—across the United States and the United Kingdom. And yet, we all are united in a common mission to improve the long-term self-sufficiency and social well-being of the impoverished and disadvantaged. Underscoring our united mission is a structure so sturdy that no matter where our employees are geographically or where they sit within the company, mechanisms are in place to shrink time and distance so that there is intentional collaboration and interaction—cornerstones of employee engagement.

Technology is obviously an integral part of most businesses. At The Fedcap Group, we are intentional about using it specifically to enhance employee engagement. The choices we make to grow our technology are always made with the caveat that whatever we choose will support collaboration, interaction, innovation, and drive. Salesforce™ tells the story of our relationships with contractors and stakeholders. Oracle unites our employees with a common language around financials, procurement, and human capital management. Our intranet is a consistent point of outreach to engage employees in questions and opportunities for recognition and topics relevant to our mission.

As we have become more and more intentional about using technology as a tool for employee engagement, there has been a marked increase in employee retention, learning, and professional growth. The result is more innovation, more drive, and more solutions to tough problems. Communication, collaboration, integration, and common language all culminate in an environment where we are better united in our mission and active support—not only of those we serve, but also each other, resulting in strong engagement across the organization.