Human resources management supports the development and engagement of the talent of your staff and volunteers in accomplishing your organization's purpose. Most organization think of human resources only as the paperwork and processes around hiring and paying employees. Having a broader definition of human resource practices in the organization can have a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of the organization.
Human Resource Strategy
A human resource strategy will be the basis for ensuring that the organization has the following characteristics:
- The organization has the right people placed in the right roles
- The people provide the right mix of skills to achieve the organization’s goals
- Putting in place compensation and benefit options that support both employee and organizational success
- Employees and volunteers display attitudes and behaviors that are consistent with the organization’s values and the culture the organization wishes to communicate internally and externally
- Employees and volunteers feel that they are valued and have the opportunity to develop additional skills and knowledge.
Getting the Right People On Board
In order to get the right people, you need to pay careful attention to how jobs are designed and how jobs fit together in the organization. Job descriptions should speak not only to the tasks the person will do, but to the skills and characteristics that are important to the role. Here are some sample job descriptions:
- Brief descriptions of various administrative staff roles
- Legal and illegal questions when hiring
- Crucial steps to take when hiring your first employee
Be careful about using people in contracted roles. There are important federal laws about who can be considered a contractor. Similarly, there are U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rules about interns and about the payment of stipends to volunteers. It is a good idea to consult with an employment law attorney to assure that you are following these complicated rules. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact Wayfind.
- Department of Labor rules regarding interns
- Stipends - It is possible to legally pay a volunteer a stipend only if it is a reimbursement of some types of expenses or a nominal payment. The Department of Labor will presume that a fee paid to a volunteer is nominal as long as the stipend is not more than twenty percent of what an organization would pay if they hired a full-time employee to perform the same service. See the Wage and Hour Opinion Letter: FLSA2006-28.
- Payroll Q&A / checklist and calculator from WA State Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance
Part of ensuring that you have the right people is being open to and actively encouraging of diversity on your staff. Here are some resources that can help ensure that you have an environment that embraces diversity and builds cultural competency.
Consider Compensation Design
What you pay your staff members is impacted by a complex array of internal and external factors. What is equivalent pay in a similar nonprofit? Are for-profit jobs going to lure away the talent you need on your staff? How do concerns about equity and social justice impact your decisions?
It is important to create compensation policies and procedures that ensure that various employees are treated fairly in your organization. It can be helpful to identify clear pathways for job progression where people can take on more responsibility and improve their pay.
And consider, what does the law require? New minimum wage laws in some communities and proposed federal overtime rules (which appear to not be happening) are changing the legal landscape.
Employee Benefits and Employer Requirements under Health Care Reform
Providing your employees with benefits is important to attracting and retaining good employees, but the array of choices can be dizzying. It is helpful to work with a benefits broker who can explain your options. You pay nothing for their services and they can help choose benefits that balance costs and employee needs. Find brokers on our Consultants & Other Nonprofit Specialists page.
A good source of information about the impact of the national Affordable Care Act (ACA) on nonprofits is
An employee handbook is a tool for setting out the philosophy and expectations of the organization. By giving employees information about the organization, its personnel policies, and how personnel matters are handled, you can also make sure employees have clear expectations.
- 5 things that should never appear in a nonprofit employee handbook
- Management and HR resources from Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (hiring, layoffs, firing, performance management etc.)
The National Council of Nonprofits provides a sample employee handbook template below for guidance only. The provided information is subject to change due to changes in federal, state, or local laws and regulations, so you should seek expert or legal assistance to make certain your interpretation and decisions are appropriate for your organization.