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Talent shortages brought on by the approaching retirement of baby boomers could hit nonprofit organizations particularly hard, says a new report released by The Conference Board.
“Growth in the nonprofit sector is outpacing growth in the rest of the economy. Shortages are already affecting critical service sectors, including health care and social services, in which nonprofits are heavily represented,” Jill Casner-Lotto writes in the report, Boomers Are Ready for Nonprofits But Are Nonprofits Ready for Them?
Many nonprofits—especially small and midsize ones—lack the “staffing depth to develop younger leaders coming up in the organization,” as well as time and money, she added.
By 2016, nonprofits will need 640,000 new senior managers and will need to recruit 80,000 new professional and management staff, according to Diane Piktialis, leader of The Conference Board’s Mature Workforce Program.
With many boomers expecting to work beyond traditional retirement age—although not necessarily for the same employer—hiring people over the age of 50 for part-time work could fill the leadership gap, the report suggests.
It could be a good match. A considerable number of retirement-age boomers in the private sector are considering nonprofit work as “encore” jobs that allow them to use their experience and skills in ways that give back to the community, the report says.
Tapping into that resource will require new strategies by nonprofits, which in the past have not invested significantly in human resource management, Piktialis said during a joint May 31, 2007, press conference in Washington, D.C., with the MetLife Foundation.
Typically nonprofits funnel their limited resources toward their mission instead of putting succession plans in place or identifying and growing leaders from in-house talent, Piktialis said
In addition, they have shown little interest in hiring mature workers. Often the idea of recruiting workers over age 50 “isn’t even on the radar screen,” but nonprofits could be missing out on what Piktialis called “amazing opportunities” for stemming a talent shortage.
Ten nonprofit organizations around the United States who have harnessed that potential were recognized by the MetLife Foundation’s first BreakThrough Awards:
The approximate 77 million boomers are “healthier, more educated and wealthier than any previous generation,” and with a propensity for work they represent a potential asset for nonprofits, according to the report.
Piktialis recommends that nonprofits strengthen their human resource capacity by looking internally at how to make HR management an important, sophisticated part of the organization.
Among the steps that the report suggests nonprofits take are:
Nonprofits are behind other sectors in offering an array of flexible work arrangements, Piktialis said. Retirement-age boomers want work options—varied schedules, full- or part-time work, telecommuting—and the ability to shape the responsibilities of their positions.
CVS, for example, developed a “snowbird program” that lets employees transfer to a different pharmacy location on a seasonal basis to work at jobs such as greeting-card specialists, cosmetic consultants, photo supervisors and pharmacists.
It has helped “to manage the swell of business in warm climate stores during the winter months,” CVS says on its web site.
At Leesburg Regional Medical Center and The Villages Regional Hospital in Florida, telecommuting is an option for some jobs, such as transcription work.
The hospital and center individualize shifts to meet the needs of the business and its staff rather than try to find people to fit pre-determined shifts.
“You can’t have a set plan,” said Darlene Stone, vice president of HR there. “It’s a Rubik’s Cube” that requires twisting it to make it work.
Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News . She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the latest HR-related business and government news, go daily to www.shrm.org/hrnews.
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