An Introduction to Nonprofit Human Resources
Human resources staff at nonprofit organizations frequently face significant and different challenges than their counterparts in the business world. Often, they perform not only the work of traditional human resources staff, but also manage office administration, volunteers, and Board of Directors support, among other functions. In fact, in many nonprofits, an “HR Manager” does not exist, and the responsibilities fall upon staff who don’t have a formal HR background. Moreover, support for the unique needs of the HR role in a mission-driven nonprofit organization can be hard to find, and difficult to navigate.
The Scope of Human Resources
Primarily, human resources is the function of selecting and developing people so they are satisfied with their work and have the knowledge, skills, and tools to give their best to the organization and help it fulfill its mission and its operational goals.
HR staff play a pivotal role in the success of the organization. There are many components in the HR toolkit that enables them to do this important work:
Creating meaningful positions that link to the overall strategic direction of the organization and provide the resources it needs to successfully and efficiently fulfill its long-term goals.
Recruitment and Selection
Developing hiring practices that are fair and consistent, and which provide an opportunity to bring a skilled and diverse array of people to the organization to help further its work.
Compensation and Benefits
The practice of providing an equitable compensation and benefits package that is consistent and aligned with organizational direction. Compensation can include both base pay (salary) and variable pay (bonuses). Benefits include health, dental, disability, and life insurance, as well as various leave programs such as parental and vacation. It also may include “work-life” balance initiatives like flexible work hours and telecommuting. Finally, benefits packages often contain some kind of retirement or pension plan.
Training and Development
A commitment to continuous learning for employees that ensures they have the knowledge and skills needed to perform their jobs effectively. It also provides them with an opportunity to develop their talents and abilities for future opportunities within the organization.
A process by which plans, goals, and performance are regularly reviewed to ensure that expectations of both staff and the organization are met.
Health and Safety
Focuses on prevention of workplace injuries and creating an environment that is safe and healthful for all staff. Regular training and audits as well as thorough accident investigation are all tools to help promote an injury-free workplace.
Policy Development and Regulatory Compliance
Creating fair and consistent policies, procedures, and reporting systems that help to ensure regulatory obligations are met and the needs of both staff and the organization are considered.
This article was republished with permission from Idealist.org, a project of Action Without Borders. Action Without Borders connects people, organizations, and resources to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives, whose work is guided by the common desire of its members and supporters to find practical solutions to social and environmental problems, in a spirit of generosity and mutual respect.