Using data effectively can help charity leaders retain talented workers and reduce the threat of burnout
With shrinking income streams due to COVID-19 and increased demand, charity workers are facing one of their toughest periods yet.
This can lead to stress and burnout, where workers are unable to work due to the demands of the role.
This is where data can step in, to offer charity leaders insight into their staff’s emotional wellbeing. Such analysis is particularly important to preventing burnout and predicting employees that are at risk of quitting, so they can be offered additional support.
Data and analytics can also help pinpoint talent to ensure they are retained and nurtured within an organisation.
Here we look at how charities can effectively develop their data strategy to support staff, improve their data optimisation and ramp up their service delivery.
The first step among charity leaders is acknowledging they need a helping hand from data in retaining staff.
Such a wake-up call came from London Funders last year, in a briefing paper on the resilience of charity workers and fundraisers. These workers are particularly at risk of quitting due to the demands of their role, often supporting those facing challenging situations.
“Increased demand and complexity, feeling out of your depth or that you can’t respond appropriately to people who are in distress, can result in anxiety and depression, burnout, and even secondary trauma,” warns London Funders.
This includes using data to measure staff absenteeism, especially among those involved in service delivery. But also analysing presenteeism, where staff work whilst ill, and leavism, where staff work whilst on holiday. Does the data tell the story that a staff member could be stressed?
Using data as part of a digital strategy in this way, to assess the mental wellbeing of staff, can also ensure they stay with a charity when they are most productive.
According to one study, the peak productivity time for employees is around two years.
Software provider Breathe is among organisations working within human resources to take note of this finding in relation to staff retention.
“If an employee hands in their notice within two years of their start date, it’s reasonable to assume that they didn’t reach their potential with you.”
It urges organisations to ensure they “look into the numbers” to see if any patterns are emerging.
Looking at staff turnover ratio is one key benchmark charities can use to measure their success. This is calculated by multiplying the number of leavers by 100 over the number of staff employed during a given period.
Other data sets also need to be considered, most notably survey results. This includes understanding why people are leaving. Looking at data gained from exit interviews can offer a powerful insight into any trends.
Conducting surveys among existing staff and analysing the results is also key.
This helps to review workloads and ensure staff are engaged in their work. Perhaps a lack of training and professional development is an issue. Or staff may be calling for flexible working arrangements.
According to a study by Linkedin, it is not pay that leads to people leaving a job – it is because they are not being challenged or supported. This study also found that people join organisations because of a particular culture and vision.
By using data to find out what motivates and drives staff, rewards and recognition systems can be built-in. These don’t have to be financial rewards but can be recognising good work through employee of the month schemes. Among tools to set up such a scheme is Kudos, by Breathe.
Ensuring workplaces are diverse, equitable and inclusive is another way charities can use data to ensure they retain staff. According to a study by McKinsey and Company, equitable organisations are more productive.
There is an appetite among many charities to ensure they can use data to promote diverse workplaces and retain staff.
For example, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has used data to tackle what it calls its “structurally racist organisation” after analysing the results from a diversity review this year.
“The findings include some reflections on us as an organisation that have been painfully difficult to hear – and even more importantly – especially painful for those concerned to describe,” says the NCVO.
“The work has revealed deep-rooted cultural traits, negative behaviours and practices that are limiting the ability of NCVO to be inclusive, socially just and relevant.”
There are a number of digital strategy resources to help organisations better understand how data can help them be more diverse and ultimately retain staff. This includes the campaign group, Charity So White. Questions it urges charities to ask themselves include “how well does the culture at our organisations service staff of colour?”