The Great Resignation: How to build a culture that keeps employees around

The Great Resignation: How to build a culture that keeps employees around

October 7, 2021
46 minutes

Tiffany Keesey · Co-founder and Principal Consultant, Conscious Culture Co. | After everything that the pandemic has brought, who would have guessed we'd be dealing with this next pandemic outcome: The Great Resignation? Tiffany Keesey, Co-founder of Conscious Culture, offers emergency advice to keep your organization from being plagued by this latest crisis.


After everything that the pandemic has brought, who would have guessed we'd be dealing with this next pandemic outcome: The Great Resignation? Tiffany Keesey, Co-founder of Conscious Culture, joins Justin Wheeler, Funraise CEO and Co-founder, on the  Nonstop Nonprofit podcast with emergency advice to keep your organization from being plagued by this latest crisis.

If you haven't heard the term, The Great Resignation refers to the 4M people quitting their jobs each month in the U.S. since April 2021. There are a lot of reasons so many people are exiting, but one that crops up a lot is company culture.

Tiffany puts it perfectly when she says that perks and policies are not enough to create real change. Justin's a little more blunt, though: "No one's gonna stay for ping pong if they've got a toxic boss." The message here is that you can't plop down a keg and a foosball table and call it culture.

But if it's not happy hour and dogs in the office, what is company culture? Listen in as Tiffany reveals how to tap into your real company culture experts, offers examples of great employer brands, and explains how to stand out in this highly competitive hiring market—especially if you're a smaller nonprofit.


Hello, I'm Justin Wheeler, and welcome to this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit!

After everything that the pandemic has brought, who would have guessed we'd be dealing with this next pandemic outcome: The Great Resignation? Tiffany Keesey, Co-founder of Conscious Culture, is joining me today with emergency advice to keep your organization from being plagued by this latest crisis.

If you haven't heard the term, The Great Resignation refers to the 4M people quitting their jobs each month in the U.S. since April 2021. There are a lot of reasons so many people are exiting, but one that crops up a lot is company culture.

Tiffany puts it perfectly when she says that perks and policies are not enough to create real change. I'll be a little more blunt, though: No one's gonna stay for ping pong if they've got a toxic boss. The message here is that you can't plop down a keg and a foosball table and call it culture.

But if it's not happy hour and dogs in the office, what IS company culture? Listen in as Tiffany reveals how to tap in to your REAL company culture experts, offers examples of great employer brands, and explains how to stand out in this highly competitive hiring market—especially if you're a smaller nonprofit.

And if you're hiring right now, you're in luck! Nonstop Nonprofit listeners get a discount on Conscious Culture's guide to writing compelling job descriptions. Check it out!

Let's dive in!

Justin Wheeler Tiffany, thank you so much for joining the podcast today. How are you doing?

Tiffany Keesey I'm doing great. Excited to be here!

Justin Wheeler Yeah, I'm super excited for today's topic, The Great Resignation, which we're seeing... and I actually just today read some interesting data around which will kind of get into here in a little bit. But before we talk about that, just tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, your story, how you got involved with nonprofits and what you do today.

Tiffany Keesey Absolutely. So, yes, I'm Tiffany Keesey. I am the co-founder of a consulting firm called Conscious Culture. And we work with a lot of nonprofits, social impact groups and startups on helping them create a healthy culture that's based around their values, that allows their team to thrive and to scale and professionalize values inside of their mission. So my roots are in nonprofits, are my partners, families. And I started out, I think it's 16 years ago now at a nonprofit called Invisible Children, which is actually where I met you, Justin, and I was one of the founding team members there. So very, very early stage of Days of Invisible Children got to stay for almost 10 years and really help scale the organization. So in those 10 years, my team and I hired over twelve hundred people onboarded them, trained them, really helped scale the organization from its very founding roots to an established organization and with a huge focus on talent acquisition and also company culture. So I got a master class and learning about how to build HR systems from the ground up and the really important function of HR and supporting your team to help accomplish the goals and help accomplish the mission. After I transitioned out, I started consulting with other nonprofits, other social impact groups and startups to essentially do the same thing, help them build some really great infrastructure that supports their people, that sets them up for success and aligns their people strategy with their organizational strategy. And then about two years ago, my partner Bentley and I decided to found Conscious Culture together and merge our two consulting practices. Bentley also came from United Way and then the Giving Keys, which is a social impact group. And we have deep roots and kind of non-profits and driven organizations. And that's how much of our passion, as well as helping groups really accomplish these incredible missions and make sure they're not getting in their own way with some of the culture challenges that come up as you grow.

Justin Wheeler Well, I can speak first hand to your guys as services, as Funraise, obviously, it was a client for early on and had to say up until maybe a couple of years ago, your team played a pretty critical role in really helping form our own sort of culture and values around where we wanted to go as a business. So for those listening, definitely, I can speak first hand to just Tiffany's strength around developing culture, people, talent. So we'll definitely encourage you to check out more of their services. We're going to talk about that here in a little bit. But I want to take one step back and talk a little bit about Invisible Children. A question I have there is, did you become passionate around sort of like people, operations, talent, HR during your time at Invisible Children? And if so, what was that maybe that moment or that scenario that really kind of sparked that passion?

Tiffany Keesey That's a good question. Yes, I mean, honestly, before I started at Invisible Children, I didn't really know the field of people operations or even existed. And it really was a happy accident that I fell into it. We were hiring our first round of roadies, which essentially our interns, that we train them to go out and go on tour and show our film and mobilize schools and communities around helping Funraise or be involved with our program. So I just started helping my supervisor to hire. And it was one of those things where the leaders were like, hey, you're great at hiring, keep doing it. So as you do, you just kind of wear many hats in the early stages of a nonprofit. And then you fell really into the hiring side and then started to get more and more into the talent development space. And I think it just aligned with so much of what I've always cared about, which is really investing in people and developing people. And as I look at that through-line of my life, I've always been like a coach or a mentor in some way. And so I think it was tapping into this deeper value I have around helping people really thrive and step into their full potential. So it was a really happy accident that I got to be able to do that. So much of Invisible Children like bringing in really talented people, but then also really investing into their training and their professional development and seeing them grow from we had so many people who grew from like an intern to a director level or a C-level person over time. And that was just so fun for me to be a part of.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, it was an amazing experience. And we had a lot of good memories, many good years. And it's what's crazy is now kind of in my capacity here at Funraise, the amount of alumni I run into from Invisible Children. It's just like every day someone new is... there's that connection. And so it was definitely a special experience for sure. Regarding culture, company culture, how do you define it? Because I know there's lots of different ways people think about culture and so I'm curious from your perspective when you come in to work with a nonprofit or a business, what's the baseline for culture? What do you trying to create? What are you trying to help people understand as it relates to the importance of creating a culture that everyone wants to be a part of?

Tiffany Keesey That's such a good question. And I always like to say that culture is not like ping pong tables or beer on tap or like unlimited cold brew in the fridge. Culture is really, like most simply, the way we do things around here. And so it's the things like how do we communicate? How do we make decisions? Who is involved? Do we get feedback from our team? How do we handle it when someone makes a mistake or isn't performing well? It's these much deeper things around how we treat each other and how we operate. So I think there's a real misconception that culture is about perks and it's like we bring dogs into the office and we have happy hours and those things are all nice, but they're perks and people don't stay because of them. If you have, like the most toxic boss in the world, like no amount of snacks or kale chips is going to get you to stay, right?

Justin Wheeler Totally. Yeah. I was going to say, like the perks are like the amenities. Those are those are like, oh those are cool, maybe nice to have, but to your point, it's not the driving factor for someone to stay or leave, right? It's it really isn't. At the end of the day, it's like an especially with I don't want to restrict this to just the millennial generation, the younger generation cares obviously about a paycheck, but more importantly, like what's their contribution to the company goals? Like is is what I'm doing day in and day out? And I just am I wasting time or am I actually contributing to the bigger picture of where this company is going? Do I align with where the company is trying to go? To me, those are the exciting aspects of culture, because that's where you get buy-in. That's where you get loyalty. That's, I think, what keeps people around, at least from my experience and and learning from you during our work together as well.

Tiffany Keesey Absolutely. There are some fundamental questions that every employee wants to know, and that sounds so simple, but this is kind of where culture starts of what is my job? What do I have to do to be successful and can I grow here? And then so much of what you said, just an am I aligned. Am I having an impact? Right. These are the things that really matter to people. And your culture is also really based around your core values. And we got to do so much of that fun work at Funraise was really defining what are our values and your culture is another way to think about it is your culture is your values as lived out through behaviors. For example, with Funraise, one of your values is we're all in this together. And so how that can be lived out, through behavior is when there's conflict or tension on a team, are we giving people the benefit of the doubt first? Are we assuming positive intent or are we rushing to judgments? Right. Or when someone has a personal crisis going on, how do we rally around them to support them? How do we handle mistakes, things like that, that if these micro-decisions that we make, that that influence how we impact each other and they really do tie back to your values and what you care about. And as an organization, your values really anchor your culture.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, that's so well said. And I can respond in so many different directions. One of the things that stood out was the notion of is there room for me to grow here? And the reason that stood out is because I actually see a ton of similarities between the startup culture, so start here at Funraise or six years into the business, but still very much a startup in comparison to larger corporations have been around 20 plus years. And that same sort of desire exists at Funraise with our employees, where and how can I grow at this business. In the nonprofit space, I imagine, and I have seen, it can be a little bit more challenging. Resources are a little bit more restricted. And so how do you help leaders provide that to their employees, especially smaller organizations who maybe, you know, who don't have a ton of different types of positions to be promoted into? You might be a one person team, for instance. And so how do you create that sort of career pathing for organizations that are smaller, less resources? What's the strategy there?

Tiffany Keesey Such a good question, because you don't want to overpromise and say, like, here's the career path and in one year or two years, you'll be able to get promoted, especially if we can't guarantee that. So one thing that really has always stuck with me, at Invisible Children, we had a CEO come in about halfway through and resources were limited, compensation was under market. But he came in and said, I want to make sure that every leader here, once they leave, they're going to be so much more marketable and valuable and be able to be paid so much higher because of my investment in them. And that just always stuck with me that even in an organization where you might not be able to send me to all these expensive conferences or different things that there was a leader that was invested in my growth and development and that was personally going to make sure that I was exposed to new opportunities, whether that was introductions to outside parties like mentors or putting me on stretch assignments or making sure that I was able to step into some different areas of my leadership and grow in that way. So part of it is just being invested in a leader in your people success and making sure that they know that. And then the encouraging thing is that 70 percent of development opportunities happen on the job. And so these are things like stretch assignments. Have someone shadow another team member. You can put them in charge of a project that's a little bit outside their comfort zone. If they want to grow their public speaking, maybe have them present in a staff in a staff meeting in your place. There's so many ways you can learn on the job. And I think you were just conscious and intentional about identifying those and then having people reflect on those learnings, share what they've learned and even naming as such, like let's look at all the ways that you've grown and let's be invested in helping you develop so that when there's an opportunity, whether it's here or even if it's elsewhere, that you're going to be prepared to step into that opportunity.

Justin Wheeler That's so good. And the assumption I have is that's probably not happening at many to most nonprofits today. I actually came across in preparation for today's podcast, which I'm excited to dig into The Great Resignation, which I'd like you to provide some more context to our listeners around what that is. I'm sure many of them are experiencing it today. But actually, just this morning, read a survey and we can link it to the podcast here at the end, where respondents, 40% of respondents responded and said they plan on leaving their nonprofit in the next 90 days. And if you look at it like stretched to a 12 month perspective, it grows to 54%. And a few reasons that were cited in this cohort of people. It's compensation, flexible work, working remote, a few other things. And so maybe before we kind of dig into that, that's kind of the backdrop of today's conversation, help our listeners understand what is this great resignation and why do we need to pay attention to it. And why do we need to be proactive to ensure that we can overcome this challenge that we're seeing kind of across all industries here in the United States?

Tiffany Keesey Absolutely. And it is so important to get ahead of it. So if you're listening to this, you're already ahead, which is great. That's great news. But The Great Resignation is referring to a pattern that we're seeing of there are so many people who are leaving their jobs, who are quitting and who are resigning. And I saw those same stats this morning just in. But I also saw that on average, it's about four million people who have been quitting their jobs a month since April, which is amazing and crazy. And at the same time, or seem like every company out there is hiring. And so there's a highly competitive job market for new talent. But you're also really thinking about how do we retain our current staff? Because about Gallup found that about 48% of people right now are actively looking for jobs and then Justin you said that stat, about 40% are going to be likely to switch in the next 90 days. So it's very real and the roots of it are really this last year and a half. I mean, it absolutely disrupted life as we know it. As we all know, I don't need to say all the reasons why, but I think the pandemic, for lots of reasons, gave people the time and space to really rethink their lives and what's important to them. So we're seeing things like people are just changing careers entirely. I've seen a lot of people move to be closer to family. So if they have kids like they're around grandparents and have more support, we're seeing a lot of people who are just like life is short or I want to try something new. So the pandemic has really shifted values and priorities for people. And I think given a real desire to have more flexible work and work that supports your life about more than just your job. So that's one thing. I think also we're seeing so much around, like racial consciousness has really increased in the last year and a half. And a lot of organizations have made commitments to DEI in the last year and a half have shown. Have you actually made good on those or not? And I think employees are getting more disillusioned with workplaces who aren't committed to creating equity internally, who where they have to experience microaggression and some things like that. So I think that's another factor. And then there's two other ones I saw a third of people are worried about returning to work. So people who want to continue to work remotely or are concerned about the safety of going back to an office. And so if their job is making them go back to an office, a lot of people just aren't willing to do that and are looking for more opportunities. And then finally, there's this burnout. I mean, there's so much, there's been crisis after crisis that people have been dealing with. And I think in having to deal with the anxiety and crises of the last year, people are tired of also on top of that feeling. Appreciated or undervalued, got their job, and I think organizations with great leadership have really survived the pandemic well in organizations with poorer leadership or poorer culture, like, there has been a real strain on the team. And so people are leaving because of burnout or a misalignment with an organization's values or how they've handled this last year and a half.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, and I think that I don't have any data to back this up. So this is definitely much more of a of a hunch. But just being spending 12 years in the nonprofit space, working in nonprofit, it has its own challenges, right? And especially for working on a topic that's superheavy. So in my case, in the last six years I've spent on North Korea, I could not imagine working full time at Liberty in North Korea through the pandemic. Because I'm worrying about this like superheavy cause that in our case was life or death in terms of the type of work that we were doing. And then there's this global pandemic that just kind of throws a huge curve ball in it. And so I feel like the burnout that's being expressed in the nonprofit industry is unprecedented because of already the fatigue or the just the the weight that the nonprofit industry carries in trying to make the world better. And so I don't know, my feeling and talking a lot of nonprofit leaders is just sort of it was it's just like it was a double whammy, so to speak. And so it's been good to see things like these mental health weeks where I've seen I've seen not just for-profits, but nonprofits actually give their entire teams a week off just to to to mentally detach from work and really focus on on yourself and so forth. But I guess the question here is we're still seeing and the data is showing that employees are leaving at an alarming rate. And so what steps and you kind of unpacked a few really great examples. And just in the sort of explaining what this great resignation is all about. But what would you say are some, like, practical, like low hanging fruit opportunities for nonprofits to think about right away, like do these three things a sap like you should have done 20 years ago, but today is the next best time. What would you say are some some good starting points for organizations to really think about trying to mitigate some of this turnover?

Tiffany Keesey Definitely. I love that mental health day, whether it's a week or you see a lot of organizations that have Fridays off in the summer or something like that. And it's so nice when people can be off at the same time because you're not worried about your email inbox filling up or like the Slack messages or am I going to take off the day but like, got all these notifications from my boss or something. So being able to actually take off at the same time can feel more restful. And I think people, when you have you don't always feel the permission to take it. So having mental health days I think is very important. And even thinking about, like Iceland just did the study about the four day workweek and they cut everyone's hours down to 35 or 36 hours a week. They didn't cut pay and they lost zero percent productivity. People were just as productive, working four days a week as they were five. So one thing, I know this is may not be doable for every organization, but seriously, consider that. Seriously consider a four day workweek or at least like one three day weekend a month. One nonprofit I work with is doing that, where there are some months where you have a three day weekend because of a MLK day or Fourth of July, but they're making sure that there is a three day weekend, every month. And it's just been really nice to have those little breaks throughout the year to be able to do life things or just be able to come down off of that, you know, the intensity that you're working with. So that would be number one, which you already touched on Justin, and then the second thing I would say to do immediately is...

Justin Wheeler Can I comment on that...

Tiffany Keesey Oh, yeah.

Justin Wheeler I just want to comment on that one, the first point before we get to number two, because it also reminded me of something I recently read. So there's the CEO I follow out of Seattle. His name is Dan Price. And if you don't follow him, gotta follow him. But he's the CEO of Gravity Payments, and he's he's done a lot of innovative things around taking care of his team and employees in pretty generous and incredible ways. Anyways, one of the things he said is that what remote work has shown is that employees no longer have to fake busy. Fake being busy. And because he's like, if you're in the office and you finish your work, but it's 3:30pm, you feel obligated to stick around for an hour and a half and do something that's just busy work at that point, not really adding value, but when an employee is working from home, they don't feel that same pressure to, like, make up a project or make something up that's not going to add any value. And so know advocating for that remote type of work. And again, not everyone loves it, but for those who do, there's a lot of value even in sort of the whether it's increased productivity or, you know, not wasting time doing something that's just sucking an hour and a half from from your life. And so you wanted to mention, because I thought that was kind of correlated to the the four day work week or just the overall efficiency, productivity and so forth, so let's let's jump to number number two,

Tiffany Keesey I love that. Yes, so number two is, I would say survey your employees or talk to them, because they're going to be the ones who can tell you exactly what they need. I have lots of things I can tell you of because of the things I want you to think about or to consider. But your employees are going to know best. And before you spend all this time and money spinning up services or programs or new benefits, talk to them and just see what do you want or what would you what would have the most value or the most impact for you? And we have a great employee survey tool. I can make sure we link to it in the show notes. But just seeing where are they struggling right now? Where do they need more support? And it really might surprise you. I've done this with organizations where you can see people just need better resources to do their jobs and that would make them more efficient and their morale is going to go up so much higher if they can find that efficiency in their jobs. Or it might be things like we really want more professional development opportunities. So there's lots of kind of things that impact employee engagement and culture. But your employees are going to tell you what's going to mean the most to them. So I would say ask them and involve them when you're thinking about doing things that will either be adding benefits or making life easier or more supportive for them in this time.

Justin Wheeler The yeah, I think there's there's so much top down decision making that happens, whether it's in the for profit or nonprofit space and specifically leading up to where we're at today here at Funraise, we did several surveys around understanding people's comfort level, returning to the office and if it was important to people to return to the office. And at the end of the day, we'd actually decided we got rid of the office, no longer were fully distributed a team across the US. But really that decision, it wasn't made, you know I didn't make that decision. I like working remote but I also like working the office. But it was apparent that the majority, not everyone, but the majority of the team preferred, at least for the next 12 to twenty four months, to be working a little bit more flexible schedules, working from home, especially those with kids not knowing what schools would look like this year. And so I really want underscore that point you made is is getting your employee feedback how important that is, because if you make a top down decision and you know, half your team doesn't like it, it's going to it's going to cost a lot more problems without getting that that group kind of consensus and buy in. So I think that's that's such a great point, too, for leaders listening as they think about decisions they have to make at the company. I don't feel like you have to make that decision on your own. You've got to to really help in that process.

Tiffany Keesey And the thing I like about surveys, too, is it cuts down on some of the sometimes the loudest voices went out. So one of your employees can be telling you, I'm so exhausted, I want to return to the office, I need to be around people. But that may be one person's opinion. And so if you do a survey, you're able to see the patterns and the trends of, OK, well, 80% of people like working from home, 20% want to return to the office or whatever the distribution might be. So it also is helpful. I think it helps you have more equitable and inclusive decision making to you because you are taking everyone's perspectives into account.

Justin Wheeler And that's good. Absolutely. So one of the other challenges The Great Resignation is posing for nonprofits is that's on the other end. It's on the hiring end. Right? I mean, the job market is more competitive than it's been. And I don't know how long. I haven't seen this many nonprofits looking for a head of fundraising or head of marketing or you name the position. There's just a lot of competition in the job market today, which is good for employees, right? To ensure that they get the right compensation, the right offer and so forth. But for organizations, nonprofits, maybe with less resources, how do they stand out? What advice would you give to an organization that's looking to make some key hires but is just having a really hard time, whether it's from a competitive compensation perspective or other factors? How can organizations really stand out in this job market?

Tiffany Keesey That is the million-dollar question that I feel like everyone's trying to find out right now or figure out because it's true. It's so competitive. First, I want to say I don't think we should discount compensation. And Justin you had a really interesting post on LinkedIn this week, I'd love to get your insight on, because oftentimes we're so under market with compensation that really it's unrealistic to try to get the type of talent we want to get. So I don't think we should completely discount it. And I think it's worth looking at how under market is our compensation, because it's going to be very hard to get top talent for that, and especially if comp is inequitable or if it's way under. I've also seen as people might accept that job, but then after six months or 12 months, they're going to look for a pretty substantial raise. And if you can't offer it, then they're going to leave at that point. So that's something that I think is important to not just skip over because it is something. People are looking for and I don't think that's bad. I don't think it's bad that people are wanting to make sure that they're being valued for their work. But I would love your take on that, Justin, because they know this is hard. And that's much easier said than done, is to try to increase the compensation.

Justin Wheeler Yeah. I mean, you know, I'll just kind of use a few different examples... About three years ago, so I've transitioned, obviously, to the board at Liberty in North Korea, where I was there for five to six years. One of the things we did about three years ago was we just saw how terrible the team was being paid and the board mandated. And at first, this was hard. I'd say at first half the board, we were split on this decision. But then we had good conversation around and got everyone on board with it. But essentially we said, hey, for this next year, we want to shrink our program spend by 20% and we want to reinvest in this team and in the executive team all the way down to entry-level position. We want to bring compensation to a much more competitive, not just in the nonprofit market, but in the for-profit market. What would be the comparable job we made that investment and Liberty in North Korea has had really strong retention over the last several years. And I think part of that is not just an incredible mission, but because they do compensate their team pretty well and they know that we're going to find the best talent we have to pay for it. So I'm of the strong opinion. If an organization is looking to fulfill its mission, there are no shortcuts around investment in infrastructure and people. If you shortcut those two things, you're likely to either a delay accomplishing your mission and who knows when, or B, go belly up because you're going to have a constant cycle of people leaving unhappy employees and so forth. So I've been talking about this also in conjunction with because it directly relates to an organization's financial ratios, overhead versus program spend. A lot of organizations feel like they don't have the resources because they also have this sort of like, you know, artificial mandate to spend a certain percentage on operating expenses versus programs. And so I think that that metallurgist needs to obviously be rid of the nonprofit community. It's not helpful. I definitely think that if you're going to market to hire chief development officer, whether you're at a million-dollar organization or a twenty-five-million-dollar organization or one hundred million dollar organization, you're going to have to pay. You're going to have to pay a six-figure salary for that role, right? There's just no way that an experienced fundraiser is is going to you know, they're going to be passionate about the cause. But at the end of the day, self to feed their family, they still have to make ends meet. And I think that the more an individual and again, this is true, whether you're in for-profit or nonprofit, if an individual is able to meet their own needs, they're going to be a much more productive and happy employee anyways. So that's my feeling is like if if you're trying to find an all-star, like don't don't expect a half-assed compensation to get you that all-star. You're not you're not going to get it. So, yeah, I kind of rambled there, but that's my take on sort of how it compensation aligns with talent, specifically in the nonprofit space.

Tiffany Keesey Absolutely. And I know it's an uphill battle because you're fighting against the perception of how low overhead should be, whether that's your donors or your board. But there is a real case to be made that if you bring in an all star for that chief development officer role, they are going to be able to... Like the ROI is going to be so much higher. You're going to be they're going to be able to bring in so much more money. And so it really is an investment. And I don't think that we often look at nonprofits, we don't look at our people as investments. And that's really shortsighted because if you get some real talented people in, they're going to be able to drive results so much better and get you to where you want to be instead of bringing in people who are more like your C players who are going to do the role but aren't going to drive it forward, drive the mission forward, drive the fundraising efforts forward. So investing in your people, you really can never go wrong. And I think if you're trying to make that case, you can look at some of the stats around, like, what's it going to cost us if we don't bring in someone incredible for this role? Like, what's the downside there and what is the cost of turnover? It costs up to 70% to fill a position, 70% of a person's annual salary, which is amazing. But if you think about it like the month of the role of open, like the hours you spend recruiting and interviewing and the hours you spend training and institutional knowledge, that leaves. And so if we're able to take a longer term approach to investing more into comp and benefits, gets us those A players but also helps us retain them, it's going to have exponential ROI and really save costs in the long run. So that's like I know we talked for a while about that, but I do want to just kind of make sure we... I wanted to make sure we hit on that, because I think it's really important.

Justin Wheeler One of the other things you've talked quite a bit about, which I think also addresses this point, is employer brand and how this kind of translates to recruiting, to retention, even externally, to fundraising and the way donors look at an organization. And so I love you could just unpack that a bit more, because I think, you know, you hear a lot about employer brand in the for-profit space. Some of the hot tech companies that, like everyone knows you think that like you like that has like Nike, well that's retail, but they have a great brand, right? Everyone wants, everyone thinks something about Nike. And so talk to us a little about employer branding and why this is important even at the nonprofit level for organizations to be thinking about.

Tiffany Keesey Absolutely. And this ties into your previous question about how do we stand out in the marketplace. So your employer brand is basically what, what is it like to work here? So we all know Nike's corporate brand, like just do it, but what is their employer brand? What is it like to work there? What are the types of people who work there? What is the culture like? What are the values? And so your employer brand, it really is essentially your culture or your value proposition. Why should someone want to come work for us? What are we doing that's exciting? What's the impact that we're having? What makes us stand out? And there are things that make you stand out. And so taking the time to really think through what those are, I love to ask clients like why would someone leave their job and want to come work for you and really thinking through, like in general, what is that? But for each position, why would they want to do that? And and then that's part of your employer brand. So it could really be around your mission and your impact. It could also be around if you have a really incredible team, that might be a part of it, too. And maybe it is the comp and benefits or maybe not. But there are going to be maybe it's the flexibility, right? But what are the things that make you stand out as an employer that people really appreciate about working for you? And again, if you don't know, ask your people, what do they love about working for you? And a lot of those will be like the tenants of your employer, your brand and your value proposition. And so if we think about that and really get clear on that, having that knowledge will help you really stand out as your thinking about recruiting. So first, we'll talk a little bit about the recruiting space and we can talk more about retention. But in recruiting, I say like lead with your employer brand and a lot of organizations in general have a hard time if they just post like a boring job description online and hope people apply. I'm just going to tell you, if you're posting your job description, those are boring. Like people's eyes glaze over. They're not going to read them. They're not going to apply for it. So instead, we want to use that as a starting point and then create a job posting that really is more like a marketing piece that sells like what's great about your organization and what's great about this role, what impact is this person going to have? And I want to get creative with this of throw out the old playbook, like tell people about how your team operates or tell them what to give me some of their projects or maybe some of their big wins in the first year. You let your voice and your personality shine through. And if you do that in your job posting, you want the right person, like your target candidate to read that and right away be like, that's me, I need to apply for it. And that's a real way to stand out right now in this competitive marketplace, is to grab people's attention from the beginning and to be able to communicate that value proposition and to have them feel a little bit like bought in before they even apply. So being able to write a great job posting that communicates all those things is one like really tangible, really practical way to stand out in the job market and showcase your employer brand.

Justin Wheeler Do you have an example of a nonprofit you've worked with that was, that they have a remarkable employer brand, an example of what made it remarkable or what stood out to you?

Tiffany Keesey Yes. It's something we worked really hard at Invisible Children. And so we went through this exercise and really put out what is our employer brand and spent a ton of time on that. But just for the sake of referencing another organization, when I was at Invisible Children, we would also really look at charity: water and their employer brands and study their website and how are they communicating that? And I remember like the first thing when you went to their first page is it's like "Come change the world with us." And so right away, if you're someone who wants to change the world, you're like, yeah, I want to do that. I'm bought in. And then as you scroll down, it's I think part of their value proposition was that they were in New York and so they had something about their location and being based in New York. They had all these photos of their team and team activities and events that they do. And so you can see this is a fun team. There's camaraderie. There's like I'd get to work with cool and fun people and then they might have listed out their their benefits, I'm not sure. But that was one that I really admired at the time. And and again, studied to see how are they communicating what's really great about working there. And I would assume that they did this. They know we did at Invisible Children. We were trying to pull talent not just from the nonprofit sector, so you don't want to be competitive out like in the broader sector as well. So that was one thing that one organization that I looked to. But I think there's nothing wrong with looking at, like the Apples and Nike event, like looking at the career pages and saying, like, what are they communicating and how do we do this in our own way? And making sure you do have a jobs page or a career page and you talk about what's unique about you put your values on there, too, because, again, people are going to people who are aligned are going to be excited and they're going to self-selecting. And you're already doing a little bit of that selection before people even apply, because people like you, I love those values. I definitely want to work here. So make your job postings great and then have a have a career page that showcases your employer brand.

Justin Wheeler That's great feedback. I also will throw another one in the mix is New Story. They have, I love on their career page they say we don't hire employees. We're looking for a team of founders. And so right away they're they're talking very inclusive of like the way they look at people that are hiring. The type of mindset of people they're looking for. It's very clear and goes on to talk a bit more about what a team of founders means. And so I totally agree. More marketing behind your recruitment strategies for sure. On the retention side, let's talk a little bit about that, how does how does employer brand help retain employees?

Tiffany Keesey Such a good question, because we want to be thinking about recruiting new talent, but we also want to be thinking about continually re recruiting our current talent so that we are able to engage and retain them. And your employer brand does matter there. And it's less about the branding and the marketing because people are like a part of the organization. They understand the nuance. But I think being able to come back to those things that do motivate people. So, again, if you know from your staff what motivates them, what drives them, how do you make sure you revisit that on a continual basis? And I would venture to guess that impact is one of those things that I've seeing a real impact from, seeing how their job contributes to the mission, seeing the impact on the end user that's going to be motivating. And so making sure you're coming back to that in your communication, in your all hands, like sharing stories of ways that your team have accomplished your mission in small ways and large. And so one thing that I love that we did at Invisible Children is we continue to, like at almost every one of our all hands meetings we'd have people share, like, inspiring stories from the week or the month. And it would always remind us of, like, why we're here and why we're doing what we're doing and kept people motivated and engaged. So whatever in your employer brand, your company culture is is motivating people to stay like make that a part of your internal rituals and communication so that you're coming back to it and reminding people of why they're here and what matters to them.

Justin Wheeler That's that's so true. And I think one one thing I'd add and what I've learned, especially at Funraise, is we have you know, we have a Slack channel. It's called Boom. And it's it's a channel to celebrate victories. And celebrate victories as a company or celebrate individual employees and their accomplishments. You can give out like Bonusly points and people and things like that. So it's a great channel and it's it's all like very positive and uplifting. But we've also gotten some feedback where people are like, hey, like we want to know also want to know, like, what are the challenges that the business are facing? Because we want to we want to dig into that. We want to we want to be helpful and contribute towards like how can we... What are the what are the hard things that are going on? You know, they can't all be like roses and butterflies. Right. Like what? What are some of the challenges? And I've learned that, like, the more transparency we as leaders offer around the business challenges, the more byan you also get, right? It's just more real. It's more honest, and it brings your team into helping problem solve because no one person can solve every single problem on their own. And so I also think of, when I think of employer brand is just a level of transparency, where there's just an understanding around where the organization is at from an operating perspective as well. And I know there's some debate around how much is too much information and so forth. I've just learned that the more transparent, the better the outcomes generally are. And so I don't know if you if you have any comments around that, but that's something I've I've been learning here at Funraise and think is it's an important element of of retention and keeping your team just inspired outside of again, the roses and the butterflies.

Tiffany Keesey Absolutely. I think people really want to be kept in the loop and they feel very trusted when you're transparent with information because you are trusting them with that information and trusting that they have the maturity to handle that, whether it's bringing them in on budgets or strategy. And then you're also inviting their opinion so it engages them in. So many ways to be transparent, and if you're worried about being transparent, I would just say start somewhere and you don't have to publish everyone's salaries or things like that. But increasing transparency over time does communicate a lot of trust in your people and empowerment and your people. And those are also things that are incredibly motivating for people to be able to stay on if they feel like they're trusted, they're empowered and they're given information that is going to help them do their jobs better. I mean, essentially by being more transparent, that does give people really helpful information and criteria that they can use to make decisions on their role.

Justin Wheeler Well, Tiffany, thank you. We are, I could keep on I could talk to you for hours more about about these topics for our listeners who want to take the next step and speak to you about how you can help them really enhance their whether it's their employer brand, their culture, their hiring. How can people find you and connect with you for those things?

Tiffany Keesey Yes, you can reach out on our website. So it's and we have a contact us form so you can just reach out to us and we'll get in touch. We also, you can follow us on LinkedIn Conscious Culture and Instagram, I believe it's on Instagram, but we also just send out a ton of really great resources right here to our email list. And so we'll make sure you have that link in the show notes if that's all right, Justin, the engagement survey that I mentioned and make sure you have our website and everything so that you can reach out. And then we are going to be offering a course this fall on how to create a really compelling job posting that stands out so we can offer a 50% off discount, like nonprofit discount to any of the Funraise listeners. Yes, for Nonstop Nonprofit. So we'll make sure if you get on our email list, you'll be notified on that course of and you'll be able to use that discount code.

Justin Wheeler Awesome. Well, Tiffany, thank you so much for taking the time to come on to the podcast today. We really appreciate it and look forward to seeing how things continue to progress. And hopefully we can turn around this great resignation and see happy, healthy employees.

Tiffany Keesey Absolutely. I think the last thing I'll say is this might sound really intimidating, The Great Resignation. I think it's a challenge, but it's also a real opportunity. And for those of you who've already been investing in your people, in your culture and showing care, you are going to come out on top of this in the long run. And if there is room for you to grow, just start now and I think you'll still come out ahead. So this was so great to talk about today Justin. Thanks so much for having me.

Justin Wheeler Absolutely. Thanks, Tiffany. Have a great day!

Tiffany Keesey You too!

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