Assessing People, Pay and Rewards strategies within the charity sector

24 January 2023

The pandemic has reshaped the environment in which we operate. In addition to this, the continued pressure on the public sector has led to a demand in many charity services, at a time when they are adapting to new ways of fundraising, during the current economic crisis. All of these factors are testing our charity sectors financial and resourcing resilience, at a time when they need their voices ‘to be heard’ through strong leadership and advocacy.

Pay strategy and resourcing is a top risk for many organisations at the moment, with charities particularly grappling with the increasing demand for support from beneficiaries alongside how best to recruit, retain and reward their own people to best provide this support.

Charities are finding inventive and creative ways to achieve this both now and with a long term view in mind.

As organisations visit their pay policies now is the optimum time to consider what you are getting from your existing pay provider and whether this is supporting these considerations. We have listed some of the key areas to consider.

The horizon looks uncertain for the UK as the cost of living and energy crisis becomes a reality, and employees are experiencing their own financial challenges, which influence the choices they make and the organisations they join. Those already employed within the charity sector may soon be forced into deciding whether they stay with their current employers or seek more lucrative roles. With such uncertainty, it is recommended that charities actively review their People, Pay and Rewards Strategy and align their energies and resources, to ensure they retain their talent and promote their branding to attract equally talented recruits.

Engaging with existing employees, promoting their value within the organisation and investing in their professional development to mitigate the risk of people leaving, is paramount. In such circumstances, developing a robust People Strategy that focuses on the future and aligns people to organisational goals needs to be underpinned with getting the “basics” of HR right consistently. This includes engaging with volunteers and growing their volunteer base to support business growth and branding.

Some questions to consider:

Does your recruitment and onboarding process reflect your organisation and what’s missing?

Having a robust and effective recruitment process that complies with legislatio, uses inclusive language and encourages feedback from applicants will hopefully attract the right people to support their challenging agendas. Suitable trained staff who apply a diverse and unconscious bias approach to recruitment will also impact on a charity’s branding and credibility with its users and donors.

Reporting on your EPG and gender pay gap, even when you are not hitting the 250-employee threshold, can be attractive to candidates, and puts this firmly on the People agenda and addresses the gaps, which can act as a powerful tool in luring talent. This requires sufficient quality data so a deep dive into processes to check for risks, inconsistencies can provide assurance that the design and controls around your processes are best practice.

Is payroll running correctly and is it enhancing your HR function?

New rulings on holiday pay as well as complexities in variable pay, reward and contract types all put pressure on payroll to deliver against expectation. Are the processes correct and consistent to ensure equality and accuracy of pay and are they fit for purpose or does payroll take a disproportionate amount of time to check, and is it open to risk of inaccuracies?

Reviewing these processes will mitigate challenges with employees, that can often escalate and create unnecessary friction and dissatisfaction and could also provide a more efficient and cost-effective way to administer Payroll. Providing Finance departments with the time to focus on more strategic matters.

What can you do to mitigate risks relating to retention of staff?

Undertaking regular employee surveys that reach out to staff, allow them to be honest and delivers a call for action is a powerful way to engage with staff and make them feel valued.

Ensuring your managers receive regular and updated training on all HR and recruitment processes will ensure they are working effectively, whilst developing their staff and their own management skills. In addition to this, reviewing your workforce and succession planning to ensure staff are developing professionally and introducing leadership training for key roles, will enhance your capabilities and improve employee satisfaction.

Reviewing and ensuring your pay awards are underpinned with an effective and competitive rewards package with limited outlay for employer and employees. Including the consideration of options such as salary sacrifice schemes to provide employer and employee savings.

How can you self-assess your People Strategy

Developing a robust Staff survey with clear actions. Being transparent with staff and including them in the development of the People Strategy, making sure it includes their feedback and showcases your commitment to the development of your people is invaluable. Pay remains a contributing factor to why people stay in organisation, but shared values and a strong People Strategy with commitment to staff development is also a deciding factor.

Effective processes, transparency, employee engagement and company values and fairness are key elements of successful employer branding and more importantly, support loyalty and retention during challenging times.

The first step is assessing where there are pinch points in HR processes, reviewing your rewards and benefits to include real time support to staff facing financial pressures and taking stock of the value of some small incentives that could deliver huge commitment and employee satisfaction. HR health-checks are a powerful tool for this and support recognisable and staff driven actions that could make a real impact on staff retention.

For more information, please contact Deborah Payne. 

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