Let’s unpack the ways DEI impacts employee retention for small businesses and nonprofits. DEI and retention are intertwined; companies that take on DEI initiatives are overall better spaces to work and better work spaces have been shown to decrease employee turnover. Committing to a DEI platform helps to attract and retain those that want to be a part of the solution. This type of engagement often creates a workspace that allows individuals to show up authentically which helps them to develop and maintain a sense of belonging.
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Small businesses often face challenges in trying to “piece together” a DEI initiative which often places additional work on employees that are already wearing several hats. In order to avoid burnout, the best practice is to outsource this work to a company, such as LTHJ Global, that specializes in working with organizations to gather data, conducting strategic planning and performing the next steps to move forward doing “the work” of DEI.
Smaller companies also tend to fare better in undertaking DEI initiatives due to having a better opportunity to foster connection and form the meaningful relationships that are a part of the healing process. And they tend to show more commitment to their team which helps to foster the type of community that is needed for people to feel they matter. An HR person can be a part of the DEI process which provides small businesses with the opportunity to be creative with their benefits package. This important role can also assist with having a person in place to provide space for employees to start to unpack their challenges in the workspace.
Today’s DEI Environment
One of the noticeable challenges many are facing during the pandemic is people switching jobs, leaving a wide open space for movement. There are numerous reasons that this push to leave a job and start over is emerging now. First, people learned during the pandemic about the importance of being comfortable in spaces and also the importance of feeling connected to those you spend time with. For many, priorities shifted during the pandemic and now they have to find ways to navigate their new normal, which for some is leaving their current employer. I have always felt that being a part of an organization is like a marriage. There are often hurt feelings and other conflicts that occur while change is occurring. The flexibility to afford this growth is often not present and leads to microaggressions and other harmful practices. In saying that, bad behavior is no longer being tolerated due to the number of opportunities to move around that are now available.
According to Lindsey Jackson, CEO of LTHJ Global, “The ‘Great Resignation’ is showing that people are leaving bad cultures, but we do not know yet if and when they move [companies], if they will later stay [at the new one].”
“Being a part of a team still should lend itself to what is important to most:
- To feel connected to the mission
- Pay equity – even if there is not a lot of pay
- Ability for growth
- A feeling that they can use their talents and feel pushed to grow
- That they are respected.”
The Bottom Line
When employees are not finding internal satisfaction or feel like their needs are met in their current position, they start identifying ways to make their exit. One of the factors associated with the other side of the pandemic is that there are openings for employment everywhere. Nonprofits and small businesses are proving to be fragile in the current culture of the workforce. These organizations have to learn ways to evaluate if they are vulnerable and take steps to retain valued employees who are at risk of leaving. One of the tools that LTHJ utilizes is the stay interview. The stay interview is a set of questions designed to open dialogue before employees reach the point of no return. In short, complete a stay interview to avoid an exit interview. There are also ways to create DEI programs that aid with employee retention.
Both nonprofits and small businesses share the unique concerns of attracting top talent without having the money to pay competitive salaries. This is the time to show up with creativity and flexibility. Never hesitate to reach out for help. There are retention strategies for nonprofits that can be useful. Use the current climate as an opportunity to re-energize your team and move closer to the mission. Unfortunately, some employees will shift their priorities or life circumstances and find themselves forced to leave, but in keeping your focus on retaining your team, you strengthen a culture of DEI and benefit all stakeholders – while creating a better place for you to work, too.