Common Staffing Problems

A big part of management is finding – and keeping – great people around you. We’re talking great employees!

Employees directly impact not only the work that gets done at your association or chamber (and by extension, the advancement of your association or chamber), but also how your members feel about your organization. (How staff treats them at events, what the tone is like in the emails they receive, how helpful (and pleasant) phone calls with your organization are, etc.)

But even if you’ve only been in a management role for a short time, you know staffing, like many things, comes with its own set of problems. Below are three, in particular, just about all associations and chambers face at some point, and better yet, solutions for each:

1. Employee turnover

Keeping staff is always, always, always a challenge, particularly with sites like LinkedIn around, where recruiters are constantly seeking (and messaging) potential candidates – whether they’re actively looking for a job or not.

Now, there will always be other companies out there that can offer more money and potentially better benefits (which we’ll talk more about next), but the real key to employee retention is employee happiness. Are they happy to come into work everyday?

Below are just a few things you can do to bump up the chances that they are:

  • Onboard them effectively – If an employee isn’t equipped to do the job at hand (they’re confused, lack the tools, don’t understand the software, etc.), they’re likely to get frustrated and want to leave. Set them up for success by having a standard onboarding process in place and taking it seriously.
  • Help them understand their “why” – Sure, people go to work because they have bills to pay. But when there’s an added “why” in there (something that really drives the person and motivates them), they’re much more likely to stick around long-term – because they feel a connection to the organization, whether that’s with the mission, the members, the industry as a whole, or something else entirely. Make it a point to ask your employees what their personal “why” is and try to give them tasks that align closely to that (or tasks that at least remind them of that).

2. Increased competition for top talent

Like we mentioned earlier, there will always be other companies out there that can offer more money and potentially better benefits. So how can your association or chamber compete?

For starters, turn to your mission. You do really important work for a really important cause, and that’s something a lot of people would want to get behind. (That’s a “why” right there!) Make sure your mission is clearly stated on your website and take some time to talk through it in more detail during the interview process. (Talk about why it’s so important to you. Seeing your passion might spark an interest in them.)

Next, if you don’t already, consider a few ways (or more ways) your organization can offer flexibility. Would you be open to letting employees work remotely one or two days out of the week? What about hours? Could the employee choose to come in a little earlier and leave a little earlier if that would fit their schedule better? The more flexibility you can offer, the more appealing a position at your association or chamber will become.

3. Busy seasons with not enough hands

Many companies and organizations go through busy seasons: event season, the holidays, tax season, etc. And when those seasons hit, workloads get tough. Now you may not have the budget (or even the need) for another permanent employee, but you also don’t want to burn your staff out so much that they contemplate leaving.

So what do you do? One option, depending on the type of work at hand, is to consider hiring an intern. Their internship would be temporary and wouldn’t cost as much as a full-time, permanent gig. If the work is a bit more complex, you may want to consider hiring a consultant. Again, they could lighten the load without you having to commit to anything long-term.

Another good option – though a more long-term option – would be to work with an association management company. They have the staff and the expertise to help in areas where you’re stretched thin – and even areas beyond that. (It’s at least worth a look!)

Now we mentioned earlier the importance of onboarding your new employees – to get them settled and set up for success. This is an area that you shouldn’t just “wing.” You should have a standard onboarding process (that everyone goes through) with purpose and thought behind it.

For tips on what that might look like and what bases to cover, check out our free guide, Best Practices for Onboarding New Staff!