How many of you work for small or mid-sized non-profits that don’t employ a human resource professional? For a great deal of organizations, the size of the team and the size of the budget either don’t warrant or don’t allow for the employment of a qualified HR staff member.
Although it is may be unreasonable to expect a non-profit of 50 employees or less to have the resources to fund a full-time position like this, it is not unreasonable to expect the organization to have similar needs to those of an organization two or three times its size. I know from firsthand experience the harm that can come from being an employee with limited to no access to a skilled HR person. In addition to their knowledge of benefits and paychecks, which can be incredibly valuable in and of itself, human resources professionals provide an avenue to file grievances and report other concerns (actions that may not be taken without a system in place). Their assistance in guiding managers on holding employees accountable, creating corrective action plans, termination and hiring procedures is extremely valuable and should never be overlooked.
I have a possible solution! In the spirit of collaboration and partnership which seems to be the direction of the non-profit sector, perhaps the best way to ensure access to qualified HR individuals is through a shared resource. Maybe organizations that already work closely together either through previously developed strategic partnerships, geography/community area or the nature of their service provision can pool their limited financial resources to employ a shared human resource professional. Or even better, local funders who are invested in the success and sustainability of the community’s non-profit organizations can develop initiatives to provide funding for these collaborations.
This approach certainly isn’t groundbreaking or even that innovative, but it’s not something I’ve seen put into practice and might be worth a try. If we truly want to advance missions and effect change, it is vitally important to care for, guide and train the most valuable assets at any organization – it’s people!