How To Compete for Top Talent And Retain Your More Valuable Employees

Featuring Our Guest Speakers: Ed Probst, Jennifer Loftus, & Matthew Thompson
We have put together a panel of experts to help you navigate the issues you are facing regarding obtaining and keeping talent.
This panel discussion will cover:
– How you can become an Employer of choice
– How to ensure your pay rates are retaining employees and not driving them away
– Benchmarking benefits to become more competitive in your recruiting efforts

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Best Employees Never Want to Leave

Here’s something that keeps your Executive Director (or you?) up at night.

“What happens if Jason leaves? Sure, I’m the E.D – but Jason is really irreplaceable. He has all the relationships that drive the big money. If he ever leaves, this place will fall apart.”

Every organization has its rock stars. You, as the leader, want to do everything you can to make them never want to leave.

Here are five things you can do to retain your best employees.


No one, not even Jason, is irreplaceable.

You may rely on him now, but you’d find someone else if you had to. And more importantly, it’s highly unlikely that Jason will stay as long as you’d like no matter what you do.

You also need to snap out of the mentality that you are only the E.D. If you really feel that Jason is more important to the success of your work, maybe you should be the one shopping.

A big part of your job is to build a team of five-star players. Absolutely take great care of your rock stars but remember… if the band isn’t also first rate, you’re probably not getting a platinum album (do they still call them albums?)


1) Champion purpose. A recent study by Harvard Business Review and The Energy Project (a company that assesses workplace productivity,) the single most important influencer for job satisfaction and retention is purpose.

Employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations — the highest single impact of any variable in our survey. These employees also reported 1.7 times higher job satisfaction and they were 1.4 times more engaged at work.” 

While it might be hard to sell purpose if you lead a company that makes clothes hangers, you’re the Executive Director of a nonprofit. You exude purpose. What an advantage! You must ensure that your staff touches and feels the work, especially your rock stars.

2) Be inclusive. Ask for their point-of-view and listen to their voices. As an E.D., you actually don’t have the best vantage point of your organization. Your key staff does. Ask them what’s working, what’s not, what new territory should be explored, if there’s a new way of doing the work. I guarantee you that your rock stars think about that stuff all the time. Their ideas will be terrific. That’s why they’re your best employees.

3) Give credit. What better way to illustrate that your rock star’s voice matters than to execute one of her ideas? Then make sure to give credit where credit is due. The best way is to acknowledge the contribution in a public setting.

4) Build a career path. Take extra time with your rock star (Yes, it’s ok. Play favorites.) Understand his professional aspirations. Build a plan together to ensure that your high performer is gaining the skills and building the relationships that will lead him in that direction.

5) Create new opportunities. My friend (and client) Axel Marrero at Hyacinth AIDS Foundation has been in his job for nearly two decades. He was a guest speaker at my class at The Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania. A student asked, “How have you stayed so long without burning out? Haven’t you been interested in working somewhere else?”

Axel spoke of his personal connection to the AIDS epidemic, which brought a sense of passion. He explained that a big reason he never left is that he was constantly asked to take on new and different roles in the organization. He was allowed, even encouraged, to stretch different muscles. He praised his bosses for tapping into him as a thought partner and allowing him to have a real and valued voice.

Throughout this time, I have seen Axel at the near burnout stage. I’ve thought to myself that he wouldn’t last there too much longer. But each time I’ve thought that, either his E.D. or Axel saw it happening. Together, they created new opportunities for him, which have always been able to re-ignite his sense of purpose and reinforce his commitment to the organization.


Two last pieces of advice:

First, don’t be naïve. Rock stars like Jason will leave. You need to make sure that it doesn’t catch you off guard. Make sure your best employees are not lone cowboys. Institutionalize his relationships. Make sure they belong to the organization and not simply to Jason.

And finally, make it part of your rock star’s job to build bench strength. Chances are that he gets this and is already on it because he is, after all, a rock star. But the single best way to contend with the loss of a rock star is an internal promotion.

Shared Content  Joan Garry Consulting

Response to the Great Resignation

Response to the Great Resignation

Covid has changed a lot of things, especially how some people view their relationship with work. While the search for work-life balance is not new, the pandemic and a heightened focus on workplace equity is at the forefront of many people’s minds, and they are starting to take action.

In what some are calling “the Great Resignation,” employees are leaving their jobs in higher than usual numbers to pursue better opportunities. What defines better opportunities is not necessarily the same now as it was pre-pandemic, when pay scales and benefits packages often served as driving forces. Now, what motivates a significant portion of workers, especially in younger generations, is a more holistic approach to life that includes addressing personal and important societal needs.

In this article, we discuss the following:

Data Reflecting Job Market Trends

During the pandemic, millions lost their jobs and many more struggled with underemployment. As our country begins to open up again and returning to work is on everyone’s mind, one would think that employers should easily be able to meet their staffing needs. However, when it comes to post-pandemic recruiting and retention, workers find themselves in the driver’s seat.

Recent survey data shows some interesting trends. Most importantly, people are not jumping to get back into the workforce, and for those fortunate enough to remain employed through the pandemic, they do not feel compelled to stay in their current jobs.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cites several surveys indicating that employee departures will rise as the pandemic subsides. Such predictions are supported by the recent U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) which reported that the combined number of people who voluntarily left their jobs in April and May 2021 totaled more than 7 million.

The Pandemic Changed Attitudes About Working From Home

As employers begin to roll out return to work plans, the ability to work remotely is of particular importance for employees and prospective job applicants. Eighty percent of Americans working from home during the pandemic enjoyed the arrangement according to 2020 research by McKinsey & Company. Over half of respondents reported that they were as or more productive than working in an office.

Workers Weigh in on Remote, Hybrid, or In-Person Strategies

study by the Becker Freidman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, published in July 2021, reveals that only a little over half of respondents (58 percent) would willingly follow their employer’s requirement to report to a business location five days a week. More than one-third (36 percent) would comply but start looking for a new position, and six percent would quit immediately.

Some workers might even give up a pay raise to remain fully remote. A recent Forbes article revealed that 64 percent of employees at prominent employers, such as Amazon, Goldman Sachs, and QualComm, would forgo a $30,000 salary bump to continue working from home.

These research results are compelling, but do not tell the whole story, as this sea change is not based solely on remote work opportunities. There are a variety of reasons coming together in a perfect storm to create this great exodus.

Factors Contributing to the Increase in Turnover

Since March 2020, a number of forces have refocused societal priorities and challenged people to rethink how they approach work and their lives. These various factors create an environment of escalating quit rates and labor shortages, forcing many employers to scramble as they try to address these concerns.

Flexible Working Arrangements

Covid response demanded many employers adopt work from home scenarios. This arrangement was a positive development for some employers and employees. For many workers, this autonomy was crucial as Covid-19 closed schools, daycare centers, and other avenues that provided family member care before the lockdown. As family demands continue, people are turning to their employers for support and seeking accommodations that proved workable over the past year and a half plus.

Additionally, there is a set of workers (Millennials & Gen Z) who do not define their lives by work. They see their career trajectories as having multiple employers, varying opportunities, and the ability to live wherever they feel at home, but still have viable employment prospects. They envision their careers as supporting their personal as well as professional goals as they seek to harness the best work-life balance.

Discrimination and Equity Concerns

The events of Summer 2020, focused our attention on the broad issue of discrimination (i.e., race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) in a way that has not happened since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

Today, disparities in hiring, compensation, advancement opportunities, access to childcare, and many other work-related issues rank highly on workers’ checklists when evaluating if a company is a right fit. While many companies feel they have addressed these issues with appropriate policies and procedures, employees now expect more than lip service. Actions demonstrate a company’s commitment.

Employees are demanding more transparency and open communication from employers in all areas of the work relationship. They seek a comfort level that the company they work for sees them as individuals, values their contributions, and compensates them fairly. Additionally, being associated with an organization that supports equity in our communities and is motivated to play a role in resolving societal injustices also resonates with many of today’s job seekers.

A Meaningful Life

Living through a pandemic has given many people a new perspective. They desire to contribute more to society than simply completing their assigned tasks and bringing home paychecks. They want the work they perform and the goods and services they provide to improve the world in some way.

This desire to make the world a better place ties into the focus on eliminating societal inequities, but most people recognize that they may not be able to affect groundbreaking change or touch millions. So, for them, impacting their corner of the world — the people they interact with on a daily basis — is a starting point, and they expect their work environment to support that goal.

Covid-19 Related Issues

Employer return to work plans also play a direct role in creating the Great Resignation. Employers want to bring their employees back into the workplace safely, and employees wish to feel safe while there. However, how each employer and individual reaches that comfort level is different and such distinctions often cause friction, even polarizing coworkers, supervisors, and leadership.

Corporate vaccination policies are such an issue. Some employers are encouraging their workforces to take the vaccine; others have mandated it. For a certain population of employees, mandatory vaccination is untenable, and they will refuse, instead opting to resign or be fired. This situation is unfolding in the healthcare sector and spreading to others.

Even without mandatory vaccination policies, masking, social distancing, and testing protocols may also prove to be divisive, driving employees to leave organizations that impose policies with which they do not agree.

The Implications of High Resignation Rates

Rapid and extensive turnover is disruptive and expensive. The cost is both in hard dollars spent to recruit and train new hires and also in loss of institutional knowledge.

Productivity is likely to be impacted as those hired ramp up and learn their new responsibilities. Existing employees may feel overworked and underappreciated as they shoulder the burden of a reduced and green workforce. If open positions remain unfilled, companies may struggle to fulfill organizational goals, serve customers, and prosper.

Preventing an Employee Exodus

As worker expectations shift, employers must adjust, reevaluating how to attract and retain talent. This process is not confined to examining HR functions alone but involves assessing corporate culture. Core business needs must be met, but they must be balanced against emerging employee interests.

Some areas of consideration to solidify employee retention and recruitment include:

  • Opening lines of communication to not only hear employee concerns but also share insight into leadership decisions
    • If leadership agrees to transparency, fulfill that promise
  • Offering employees flexibility in structuring their workweek to the extent it aligns with the organization’s business plan and operations
  • Furnishing avenues for emotional and mental support
  • Updating job descriptions so they accurately represent each position
    • Avoid hiding the less desirable aspects of jobs, so candidates have appropriate expectations before accepting positions
  • Providing training and other pathways to upskill existing employees
  • Establishing onboarding, mentoring, and job opportunity processes to make people want to stay longer
    • These steps may foster a sense of accomplishment, engagement and commitment to the company
  • Conducting “stay interviews” to uncover employee needs, concerns, and complaints
    • Waiting until exit interviews does little to fortify retention
  • Training managers & supervisors to understand and support these initiatives

By reviewing some or all of these areas, leadership may discover that the policies and procedures relied upon for years no longer provide the company with protection against a talent drain.

How RealHR May Help You Address the Great Resignation

Every company is unique in what they add to the marketplace and the culture they adopt internally, so addressing the causes of the Great Resignation will differ from company to company. However, what every assessment has in common is the need for significant evaluation and realistic recommendations that align with organizational goals.

At RealHR, we have the knowledge and years of experience to help point you in the right direction. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you as you consider your options and examine your hiring and talent retention concerns.

The blog should not be construed as legal advice

2021 Non-Profit Employee Benefit Trends

Multy-ethnic group of businesspeople with masks helping each other

The Covid-19 Pandemic has changed the way we live our lives and certainly the Non- Profit community is no different. Many Non-Profits have had to adapt to a new way of communicating with their employees, as they have had to convert at least some of their workforce to remote schedules.  This has also had an impact on how employee benefits are being communicated, and the benefits Non-Profits are providing to their employees. Over the past year we have had many conversations with our clients and partners. Here is some of what we are seeing and the trends we expect to continue.

Increased Focus on Employee Education

Employee education is a vital component to any employee benefit strategy. Benefits have become increasingly more complex and more of an important part of employment.   We are seeing a continually growing sentiment by Non-Profits who feel it is their responsibility to ensure employees have a good understanding of the benefits they offer including initiatives that assist in their well-being.  In the past most employee open enrollment communications consisted of group meetings, literature, Q & A, and a very reactive approach to employee education assistance.  Although effective to a degree, the information provided was typically general in nature and therefore did not take each specific employee’s needs into consideration.  As a result, we have found that some employees may have made elections without ensuring suitability.  In addition, many employees waived important benefits such as Life Insurance and Short-Term Disability often because they did not understand how they worked.   One study done by the Employee Benefits Research Institute showed that 80% of all employees surveyed would be at least somewhat likely to take advantage of an advisor service that recommends benefits based on their own household situation. More employers are working with broker partners that offer 1 on 1 employee consultations as part of their service model.  This method creates a more customized approach to communicating employee benefit plans.  Employees that receive personal advice typically select plans most suitable to their own needs.  This approach helps reduce costs and risk for employers and employees.  One example of this is evident in the employee participation of HSA qualified high deductible plans. Most employers offer at least one of these plans in their benefit menus.  However, on average we find that only 10-15% of employees elect an HSA plan.  We feel this is largely due to a lack in understanding of how they work.  Our experience has provided evidence that this percentage increases when employees meet with one of our Education Specialists.

CASE STUDY: During a recent Open Enrollment we provided a team of experienced Benefit Education Specialists for our client which has 1600 employees. The Employer saw the value in providing 1 on 1 education and made this the sole method of collecting benefit elections and waivers.  As a result, 97% of employees met with an Education

Specialist and approximately 40% of those employees selected an HSA plan, almost 4 times the average enrollment.  This offers further proof that educated employees make prudent benefit elections which improves satisfaction.  This is a trend we expect to continue and grow more towards the preferred method of benefit communication.

Growing Emphasis On Employee Well Being

According to a USI Survey 56.6% of Non-Profits incentivize or intend to incentivize employees to participate in Wellness Initiatives.   One thing we may have learned from the Covid-19 Pandemic is that there is an education gap contributing to co-morbidities in our country.  Seven in ten employees surveyed felt they needed their employer’s help to make sure they are healthy and financially secure.  Sixty Two percent said it is their employer’s responsibility to do so.   In the past many employers viewed wellness programs as a way to possibly reduce health insurance costs. They looked for immediate return on investment which can be very difficult to measure.  Now more than ever employers look toward wellness programs to help employees live healthier lifestyles.  Wellness programs have evolved from Flu Shots and Health Risk Assessments.

Today wellness programs may include flexible work schedules, dress down days, or education on stress reduction. Many employers are initiating team building exercises such as group Yoga and Guided Meditation.   Insurance carriers have also made a concerted effort to improve on their included wellness benefits. Many plans now include Telehealth, Gym reimbursements, EAP programs and reward-based initiatives. For larger employers, insurance carriers may even provide wellness dollars to fund some of their own programs. In the past we have found that these benefits would go unnoticed by employers and employees therefore underutilized.  Now more employers are requiring that these services be included in their plan designs and communicated to employees.  Financial wellness also plays an important role in this trend.   Financial difficulties can be a major source of stress in the workplace and can lead to less productive employees.  Employers are now providing services such complementary financial assessments, education on debt reduction, and assistance for first time home buyers.    We expect these types of wellness initiatives to grow in popularity and viewed as an important part of Employment.

Rise in Employee Assistance Program Inquiries

The past year has tried the patience of just about everyone.  Non-Profit are expressing their concerns about stress which may be afflicting their employees.  The number of inquiries we have received this year regarding EAP programs has escalated dramatically.    A growing number of employers are asking us to place emphasis on the availability of EAP during meetings with their employee’s.  EAP’s offer resources to support employees on a myriad of issues including Anxiety, Depression, Fear, Isolation, Stress, and Elder Care.   Employers may purchase these services directly, but sometimes times can find them included with their Health Insurance, Life Insurance, or Disability programs.   EAP’s offer a valuable outlet for employees however most of the time they are utilized when the employee is already experiencing challenges. Many employers are now investing in programs that are more proactive in nature.   Education programs on mental well- being and stress reduction are gaining popularity in the workplace.

This proactive approach assists employees with how to recognize the warning signs of stress and how stress can lead to chronic conditions.  Sessions can be delivered as Lunch and Learns, Zoom conferences, or video’s that employees can view on their own time.   This is not replacing the need for Employee Assistance Programs.   However, we are finding that employers are implementing a combination of the two to create a healthier long-term outcome for employees.


As our society continues to evolve technologically more employees than ever before select their benefits online through an employer provided portal or on their mobile device.  The Covid-19 crisis accelerated this pace as more employers are using technology to offer benefits.   The trend in remote working should continue to grow in the non-profit sector and employees will be electing benefits from their homes in many cases.  Employers will find a greater need for benefits administration systems that provide online and mobile access.        Good benefits administration technology is the key to efficient management of enrollment, billing, and internal carrier data requirements.

Solutions can vary considerably in price, capabilities, and useful application across various employer workforce scenarios. Contemporary features include plan decision support tools with Artificial Intelligence, recorded presentations, educational videos, mobile phone apps and a connection to claims support services. Paying for these services can be possible with technology credits from certain insurance carriers.

Designed to abide by state rebating laws, technology credits provide support for implementation fees and the ongoing costs of a benefits administration systems. These are often only available at benefits renewal, especially when changing carriers and can range from $.20 PEPM to $2.50 PEPM.  Non-Profits should discuss technology opportunities and integration features with their Broker Partners, and Payroll Companies to find the best solutions.


Telemedicine has been an increasingly offered and utilized benefit in recent years. The need was greatly accelerated at the beginning of the Pandemic when physicians were unable to see patients. Many people turned to Telehealth when they were sick being unsure of what to do. As a result, more people utilized some form of telehealth than ever before and received a crash course on how they work.   We believe that Telehealth will continue to grow as a vital component in the healthcare delivery system. The Pandemic has changed the patterns of people and those once resistant to technology are now shopping, working, and even exercising remotely.  Many patients have realized they can address routine matters with doctors telephonically just as well as in person. Several insurance carriers have added Telehealth to their health plans and incentivize employees to use them without any cost associated.   Some even offer mobile aps that facilitate web conferences with MD’s. During appointments physicians are able to make a diagnosis, and even prescribe medicine if necessary.  Employers will also continue view Telehealth is a great tool to drive down plan costs by steering employees away from costly Emergency Room visits.   We expect to see this trend grow in mental health services as well.  Often, mental health providers can be difficult to coordinate with insurance and many providers do not accept insurance which can make care very costly.  As the societal emphasis on well-being continues to grow expect to see more and more insurance carriers and employers offering mental health services via Telehealth, allowing for greater access to employees. One thing for certain is that Telehealth is here to stay.


1.     2020 Employee Benefit Research Institute Wellness Survey

2.   USI 2020 Non-Profit Benchmark Report

Best Practices on how to Hire and Onboard staff during a Pandemic

best practices
Best Practices on How to Hire and Onboard staff during a Pandemic
Nov 18, 2020 12:00 PM

• Recruiting Remote Employees
• Offering Remote Jobs
• Early Onboarding for Remote Employees
• Welcoming Remote Employees on Day 1
• Onboarding and Orienting Remote Employees in the First Weeks
• Ongoing Remote Employee Team Building
Guest Speaker: Brandi Desousa From PNP Staffing
pnp staffing logo