Attracting and Retaining Staff – Combatting lower salaries in the charity sector

The UK charity sector plays a vital role in addressing societal challenges, supporting communities, and promoting positive change. However, attracting and retaining talented staff has become increasingly challenging due to the sector’s comparatively lower salaries and changing work dynamics post-COVID. In this article, we will explore the main reasons individuals choose to work in the UK charity sector and discuss effective strategies that charities can employ to attract and retain exceptional talent.


Sense of Purpose and Impact


One of the primary motivations for individuals to work in the charity sector is the opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of others and contribute to a cause they deeply care about. Charities should emphasise the meaningful impact their work creates, showcasing success stories, and highlighting the transformative change they bring to society.


Personal and Professional Development


While salaries may be lower in the charity sector compared to the public and corporate sectors, charities can offer valuable personal and professional development opportunities. This can include access to training, workshops, mentoring programs, and skill-building initiatives. Highlighting the potential for growth and advancement within the organisation can attract ambitious and motivated individuals seeking to enhance their skills and make a lasting impact.


Work-Life Balance and Flexibility


While hybrid working may no longer be a unique benefit due to the widespread adoption of remote work after the COVID-19 pandemic, charities can still leverage flexible working arrangements to attract talented staff. Providing options for flexible hours, remote work, and accommodating personal commitments can improve work-life balance and attract individuals who value flexibility in their professional lives.


Emphasising Organisational Culture


Charities can differentiate themselves by fostering a positive and inclusive organisational culture. By emphasising values such as collaboration, empathy, and respect, charities can create a supportive and empowering work environment. Encouraging teamwork, recognising achievements, and promoting employee well-being can help attract individuals who seek a positive workplace culture.


Recognition and Rewards


Although financial compensation may be limited, charities can implement non-monetary recognition and rewards programs. Acknowledging employees’ efforts, providing regular feedback, and celebrating achievements can boost morale and job satisfaction. Additionally, offering a range of benefits such as healthcare packages, pension schemes, and additional time off can compensate for lower salaries.


Partnerships and Collaboration


Charities can establish partnerships with universities, businesses, and other organizations to broaden their talent pool. Collaborative initiatives, internships, and secondment opportunities can expose individuals to the charity sector and create pathways for future employment. Building relationships with educational institutions and offering opportunities for students and graduates to engage with the charity’s work can attract young, passionate talent.


Effective Recruitment and Onboarding


Charities should invest in well-structured and inclusive recruitment processes that attract a diverse range of candidates. Promoting job vacancies through various channels, including social media and industry-specific platforms, can expand the pool of potential applicants. Additionally, streamlining the onboarding process and providing a comprehensive induction program can ensure new staff members feel valued, supported, and integrated into the organization.


While the charity sector faces challenges in attracting talent due to lower salaries and evolving work dynamics, there are various strategies that organisations can implement to attract exceptional staff. By highlighting the sense of purpose and impact, offering personal and professional development opportunities, prioritizing work-life balance and flexibility, fostering a positive organizational culture, providing recognition and rewards, fostering partnerships, and streamlining recruitment and onboarding processes, charities can position themselves as attractive employers in a competitive market.


Ultimately, the combination of meaningful work, personal growth, and a supportive work environment can entice talented individuals to choose the charity sector as a fulfilling career path.


Stuart Milliner

Head of Merrifield Consultants

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