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Talent Managers on the State of the Employee Lifecycle and More

by Dana Childress

Five insights from our “Culture Ambassadors” in the field.

Last year, we asked a group of Leading Edge Employee Experience Survey participants to volunteer to be “Culture Ambassadors”. These are leaders in HR, operations, or executive leadership in the Jewish nonprofit sector who have volunteered to share information with us from time to time about how their organizations are handling talent and culture issues. Leaders constantly ask us about trends in this area, and we appreciate our Culture Ambassadors’ willingness to be one way among many that we track what’s happening on the ground.

In November 2022, we asked our Culture Ambassadors to check in with us about the state of culture in Jewish organizations. We heard from people at 82 organizations. (Please note, this is a smaller sample size than our annual Employee Experience Survey captures. Additionally, and like the Employee Experience Survey, remember that this is a non-random, self-selected sample, so it can’t be taken as a precise measure of what’s happening in the entire field. Still, this is a valuable glance into dozens of Jewish nonprofits.)

Here are the top five takeaways from what our Culture Ambassadors told us:

  • Hiring has always been challenging. But organizations are finding it harder than ever before.

    More than four out of five respondents shared that hiring is either somewhat or significantly more difficult than it’s been in the past. A silver lining: Almost two thirds of respondents share that they observe equity being centered in their hiring practices. These commendable efforts, coupled with a less predictable hiring market, can slow the pace of hiring at first as organizations build the “muscles” required to make them an ongoing part of their practices.

  • Parental leave is increasingly becoming a more formal part of organizational policies.

    More than four out of five respondents shared that their organization has a codified parental leave policy. This may be supplemented by PTO in some cases. For a third of respondents, leave is up to 12 weeks.  We have noticed an increase in questions and curiosity about how best to provide a longer leave, especially in organizations that are smaller or have a smaller budget.

  • Turnover has increased for many of our respondents. It feels especially acute when we look at educators and direct service providers.

    Almost half of respondents share that turnover has increased; almost half of respondents share that it has remained the same (which, in recent years, was an increase compared to before the pandemic).

  • Performance management is a priority, but has an opportunity to become an even more powerful tool for employees.

    More than half of respondents report that their organization participates in an annual review process, but only 40% of respondents report that the review process has been helpful in their professional growth. 43% of respondents share that standardization presents the largest challenge for them in performance management.

  • Over 60% of organizations surveyed have dedicated full-time capacity to people and talent work.

    41% of respondents note that their dedicated HR practitioner is a senior-level employee. Even as they make this investment, many organizations outsource aspects of the employee lifecycle to balance capacity constraints and employee needs. Benefits and recruiting are the most common functions to be outsourced by our respondents.

  • The Bottom Line

    I was struck by how uniform our Culture Ambassadors’ reports seemed to be about what feels tough right now.  There are also a lot of bright spots and action being taken that are driving positive change.

Is your organization working on hiring, benefits, turnover, performance management, and in-house talent capacity? Below are a few programs and resources that might help.

About the Author
  • Photo of Dana Childress

    Dana Childress is Vice President of Leading Places to Work at Leading Edge.

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