According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, last month the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, with the number of unemployed persons declining over the year by 0.4 percent. In May, the United States unemployment rate saw an 18-year low of 3.8 percent, and this summer 600,000 Americans entered a favorable job market where economists expected 195,000 payroll gains, reports USA Today.

What does this mean for you as a nonprofit leader?

It’s an employee’s job market. The economy is strong, and opportunities abound. Salary and compensation benefits aren’t enough to entice the kind of talent you want joining the ranks of your organization.

Today’s top talent is seeking an employer with a strong reputation and a healthy workplace culture.

Job seekers have the upper hand

Glassdoor is a website where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management. With such information at their fingertips, job seekers are more educated than ever when interviewing; in fact, today many recruiters and HR professionals are grilled during the interview process by prospects seeking an ideal employment match.

Social media and crowd sourcing tools have given job seekers the upper hand. The culture, values, and norms of your organization can be exposed before a new employee walks in the door.

Your organization may need a culture facelift for one reason or another, such as enticing new employees or retaining current talent. However, as this article from Harvard Business Review astutely notes, “you can’t trade your company’s culture in as if it were a used car.”

What can you do?

From culture transformation to culture impact

For years, when talking about workplace culture, we’ve used big words like “transformation” and “evolution.” Leaders tend to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of culture change because it’s been painted as a huge and scary endeavor.

We at organizational development consulting firm Brighter Strategies would like to suggest a new goal: culture influence. Taking small steps to influence your culture today can have a big impact tomorrow.

Just like with any personal resolution – to lose weight or learn a new skill, for example – the hardest part is getting started. The same is true for culture change. Don’t wait until you have a grand plan in place to act. The following are three steps you can take today to create a stand-out nonprofit culture.

Build on a firm foundation. Your organization has certain underlying beliefs, assumptions, values, and ways of interacting that are worth celebrating. There always is room for improvement, but it’s important to build on the good that exists today. As a first step, identify those cultural norms that you wish to uphold. Then, using your organization’s mission as a guide post, write new values that you can envision your organization emulating. These values should align with and support your existing business strategy and performance goals. Describe in detail the behaviors employees will exhibit and the practices the organization will endorse if these values become part of your agency’s culture.

Recruit leaders to teach. Influencing culture is not possible without the buy-in, support, and action of your leaders. Not only should leaders be involved in culture creation conversations, they must commit to communicating and living the norms deemed desirable by your organization. Recruit senior leaders to teach culture workshops to new employees and be involved in ongoing training for existing employees.

Hold all employees accountable. Finally, incorporate goals into each employees’ performance scorecard to ensure they are held accountable for living the organization’s culture norms. Reward employees who routinely show desired values with compensation increases and public recognition. When your staff sees that culture is celebrated, they will be more likely to join the party.

As you think about these first steps to influence your organization’s culture, could you use some extra guidance, a trusted partner, or simply a jump start? Brighter Strategies is here to help. Contact us today to learn more.