Work Culture and Talent Management

work culture and talent

IT’S NO SECRET that there is a workforce crisis in our nation. And in this case, the nonprofit sector is most definitely not exempt. In fact, a 2023 study by FORVIS found that 78% of nonprofit organizations in the nation are struggling to fill staff vacancies.

Beyond the “Great Resignation,” workers are now switching industries. Research by McKinsey described a “Great Reshuffling,” where employees are quitting their jobs and getting re-hired in different industries. In the public and nonprofit industry, a stunning 72% of those who quit their jobs did not take a job in the same sector.

To attract and retain top talent, associations and membership organizations must understand what today’s workforce wants and how to engage it.

Talent Management Through Culture

Talent management is the process of planning and implementing practices that help organizations find the right people with the right skills in the right roles at the right time.

One of the most important ways to do this is to create a strong work culture that is supportive, inclusive, and mission focused.

Work culture is the set of values, beliefs and behaviors that shape how people work together and interact with each other. A positive work culture can foster employee engagement, motivation, performance and retention, as well as support the organization’s goals and impact.

A study by MIT found that culture is a key consideration for employees starting and staying with an organization:

  • 46% of job seekers – culture is very important when choosing to apply
  • 33% higher productivity – culture satisfaction leaders to higher productivity

Align Your Talent Strategy with Your Mission

Effective talent management begins by aligning your talent strategy with your mission. This means breaking down your mission into specific, action-oriented objectives that can guide your talent decisions.

For example, most associations and membership organizations focus on advocacy, training, educating policymakers and giving a voice to their members. When recruiting, describe the programs and services you will provide to achieve those goals, and what skills and competencies your employees will need to deliver them.

Aligning your talent strategy with your mission helps communicate your purpose and value proposition to current and prospective employees. By showing how their skills directly contribute to the organization’s success, you can inspire them to join, stay and grow with you.

Developing a Strong Organizational Culture

Another key aspect of talent management is assessing and developing your organizational culture. Assessing your culture can help you identify its strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities for improvement. For example, you may find that your culture is collaborative, innovative and inclusive, but also lacks accountability, feedback and recognition. Based on these findings, you can design and implement strategies to enhance your culture and address any gaps or issues.

Below are seven ways to create a strong work culture and talent management:

1. Be transparent and communicative: Employees want to know what is going on with the organization and how their work fits into the big picture. Make sure to communicate consistently with employees about the organization’s goals, progress and challenges.

2. Empower employees: Give employees the freedom and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. This will help them feel valued and respected, and it will also lead to better results.

3. Celebrate successes: When employees achieve something great, take the time to celebrate their success. This will help to create a positive and supportive work environment.

4. Provide opportunities for growth and development: Help employees to develop their skills and knowledge. This will make them more valuable to the organization and it will also help them to grow professionally.

5. Invest in employee wellness: Organizations cannot ignore the health and well-being of their employees. Healthy and happy employees lead to healthy organizations. Provide employees with access to health insurance, wellness programs and other resources that can help them to stay healthy.

6. Offer flexibility: Today’s workforce wants to balance work with personal needs and family. Offering flexible work solutions can help you adapt to the changing needs and preferences of your employees, as well as increase their productivity, satisfaction, and well-being. According to Nonprofit HR’s 2020 Coronavirus Response Pulse Survey, 69% of organizations contemplated remote work as a longer-term option for staff.

7. Encourage growth: A strong work culture should include a commitment to learning and development. Nonprofit organizations should provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills and grow professionally. This will help them be more effective in their work, and it will also make them more likely to stay with the organization.

By implementing these strategies, your association can create a positive work environment that attracts and retains the best and brightest staff. And with a team like this, you will be more successful in achieving your mission.

Dan Prater is the senior managing consultant at FORVIS. He has an extensive background in nonprofit leadership and higher education. Dan founded the Center for Nonprofit Leadership (now known as the Drury Leadership Collaborative) at Drury University in Springfield, Mo. He co-created the university’s popular master of nonprofit and civic leadership and continues to serve as the lead instructor in the program. Dan provides consulting services to numerous nonprofit and governmental organizations. His services include strategic planning, board governance, leadership transition and organizational assessments.


de la Riva, Heather, SPHR, SHRM-SCP. “8 Talent Management Trends in Nonprofit Organizations.” Nonprofit HR, 23 Dec. 2020, www.nonprofithr.com/8-hr-outsourcing-trends-in-nonprofit-organizations-2020-year-in-review/

De Smet, Aaron; Bonnie Dowling; Bryan Hancock; and Bill Schaninger. “The Great Attrition is making hiring harder. Are you searching the right talent pools?” McKinsey Quarterly, 13 Jul. 2022, www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/the-great-attrition-is-making-hiring-harder-are-you-searching-the-right-talent-pools?cid=alwaysonpop-pso-mck-2207-pop_4-twi-mip-tsp&sid=62df112e61d59f0474778e33

Prater, Dan. “2023 State of the Nonprofit Sector Report.” FORVIS, 27 Feb. 2023, www.forvis.com/article-resource/2023/02/2023-state-nonprofit-sector-report

Sull, Donald; Charles Sull and Ben Zweig. “Toxic Culture Is Driving the Great Resignation.” MIT Sloan Management Review, 11 Jan. 2022. https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/toxic-culture-is-driving-the-great-resignation/

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