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4 ways nonprofits can reduce the impact of the talent shortage

Oct 08, 2021

It’s no secret that we are experiencing an extremely competitive labor market. As a result, nonprofit organizations must be creative in finding ways to not only retain their current employees but also create efficiencies in order to do more with less.

When an employee leaves, it’s common practice to redistribute the workload until you hire a replacement. However, in today’s challenging marketplace, hiring a replacement employee (at any level in the organization) can take months, or it may not happen at all.

How can nonprofit employers create efficiencies in the workplace? Consider the following:

1. Review processes

Redundancies and bottlenecks are an inefficient use of resources. When you review processes, it’s easy to identify opportunities to create efficiency.

Consider how many people touch a document, approve a workflow or are involved in a process. Evaluate the time it takes to move documents or workflows through the organization from beginning to end. A process review can create efficiencies that immediately reduce waste, bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

2. Maximize technology

When it’s difficult to find employees, consider reallocating a portion of the open position budget toward technology or leveraging funding opportunities to improve infrastructure. Implementing a human resource information system (HRIS), electronic accounting workflows, accounting modules or solutions that integrate with the accounting software will reduce paperwork, reduce risk and create efficiencies in the HR and financial department. Paperless departments do exist. Besides, nobody enjoys filing paperwork.

Similarly, consider how a centralized intake process would improve your client experience to quickly determine eligibility and maximize grant dollars to align clients with the programs or services that best support them and their families. Agencies are implementing automated and centralized intake systems that serve as a repository of all client program data, providing one intake profile that is used by the agency’s programs and services.

3. Eliminate practices that aren’t high value

If you need a business case to support an expenditure, consider establishing a minimum value for which a business case is required. Do the same when reviewing various dollar thresholds for financial decisions. Evaluate procurement thresholds, capitalization thresholds, authorization thresholds and others to determine whether you should modify them.

Are there events or meetings held on a regular basis that have no agenda or real purpose? If so, reduce the number held or eliminate them altogether. Give team members the time needed to complete work by reducing unnecessary meetings or allowing them to decline meeting attendance.

4. Review the organization’s structure

Does the current structure support efficiency? At times, organizations must contract and flatten in order to be more efficient. But sometimes, adding a layer of management in strategic positions can actually improve communication and create opportunities for optimal flow of information.

While you would typically undertake a structure review during times of growth or contraction, you should also assess structure periodically to ensure it supports your agency’s initiatives in the most efficient and effective manner. The structure should also provide the support and resources needed to allow your teams to complete their work.

Wipfli can help

Now is the time to review your agency’s practices to create efficiencies and fully leverage human resources to the greatest extent possible. Doing so will help when it’s challenging to find talent.

Wipfli can help. We have experience helping nonprofit organizations streamlines processes, realign structure, centralize intake, leverage technology and more. Contact us to learn more.

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Barbara Low, SPHR, RODC
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Katherine Eilers, CPA
Senior Manager
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