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Hiring Quandary: Bad and Good News

Friday, 29 October 2021 00:00

The non-profit and youth development sector is in a hiring quandary. As we all begin the slow and deliberate process of returning to in-person programming, it's getting harder and harder to fill positions.

Dr. Danielle R. Moss, CEO of Oliver Scholars and self-described youth worker at heart, shares the following thoughts:

1. Pay People. Youth workers who feel valued aren't looking for a big payday. But they do want and deserve a living wage and some work-life balance. They also don't want to be hired at permanent salaries, going years without raises. I started my career at the bottom. Reasons I've been given for non-competitive pay: You live with your mother. Fundraising was down this year. Word?!

Do a compensation audit with peer organizations, review localized salary surveys, and design a program that matches your budget, so you don't build your organization on the backs of your staff. Also, advocacy matters! If you're working with contracts that don't allow cost of living increases, advocate on behalf of your sector!

2. Fix the Culture. There are training, coaches, and consultants who can help your organization get that culture right. Lower the fingers you use to point to problems and roll up your sleeves to build equity, justice, and accountability into your culture. Hint: The CEO isn't always the issue.

3. Develop Your People. Stop operating under a veil of secrecy, and create opportunities for staff to be mentored and developed via formal and informal training and coaching. 

4. Develop Good Answers Together. As a CEO with significant experience, I know a lot of things. But, I don't know everything. Knowing everything is not in my job description. My role is to lead strategy, and I can't do that effectively without the people who have to implement strategy at the table. Stop making decisions behind closed doors, and get the team into the room. This approach is how innovation happens.

The bad news: The chickens have finally come home to roost in terms of how we engage with youth workers in this sector.

The good news: We can fix it.

Contributed by NAA and Dr. Danielle R. Moss, CEO of Oliver Scholars and self-described youth worker at heart,