The Australian NFP sector is heading into the new financial year with renewed energy – and has welcomed the change in federal government, the latest NGO Recruitment Hiring Insights and Salary Snapshot shows. But even though hiring intentions are stronger than this time last year, the majority of those NFPs surveyed are experiencing tough recruitment challenges faced with a highly competitive jobs market.
In July 2022, at the start of the new financial year, NGO Recruitment surveyed a cross-section of 100 Australian NFPs to gain a snapshot of hiring and remuneration intentions over the next 12 months, current recruitment challenges and the lasting impact of the pandemic on the sector.
Compared to NGO Recruitment’s July 2021 survey*, this year’s findings are more optimistic, with the majority of those surveyed focused on new program delivery and increasing headcount. 65% of those surveyed intend to hire this financial year, compared to only 48% this time last year when strict public health orders were in place across several states.
Workforce demand is now stronger than ever, largely due to the ongoing societal impact of Covid-19 and an increased need for the sector to deliver frontline and mental health services, community housing and quality aged care. The change in federal government is also boosting investment in the community and environment.
However, 77% of those surveyed are currently finding it hard to recruit, and 41% are also finding it tough to retain talent.
“We’re witnessing a huge, unprecedented demand for roles across all disciplines and sub-groups of the Australian NFP sector,” says Richard Green, Director, NGO Recruitment. “This severe talent shortage is being compounded by a record low unemployment rate and the ongoing impact of Australian border closures, which resulted in a net migration loss in 2021 for the first time since 1947.
“The current labour market is therefore highly competitive across the entire economy. NFPs need to develop ever more sophisticated attraction and retention strategies to secure the limited number of candidates available.”
According to the survey, 91% intend to raise salaries this year compared to 71% this time last year. And while 29% of those surveyed always give annual pay rises in line with enterprise agreement changes, 43% stated they are raising salaries this year due to inflationary pressures and the increased cost of living. Interestingly, when asked why people are leaving their organisations, 39% of those surveyed said the number one reason is more competitive remuneration elsewhere.
“After several years of relative stability, rising inflation and subsequent cost of living increases are putting upward pressure on salaries across all industries,” says Richard. “The NFP sector, where remuneration is fairly restrained, is particularly sensitive to these economic conditions, so it’s not unexpected that most NFPs intend to raise salaries this year. What remains uncertain, however, is the impact this pressure will have on current budgets and program delivery.”
IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC
Not surprisingly, 65% of NFPs surveyed stated the Covid-19 pandemic has had a lasting and significant impact on their organisation. The survey also confirmed the seismic shift towards the normalisation of hybrid and remote working where possible within the sector.
60% of those surveyed stated they are now working in a more hybrid way, and 31% now work predominantly remotely. And although 46% of those surveyed stated productivity stayed the same during the pandemic, a remarkable 33% stated productivity increased as a result.
“The productivity and work-life balance benefits are huge for those employees who can work from home. But not only that, the success of hybrid and remote working during the pandemic has vastly changed the employment environment,” says Richard.
“Workplace flexibility is now non-negotiable for the majority of candidates we work with and employers who aren’t flexible are failing to attract the best talent.”
TOP ROLES IN DEMAND
Of the top roles most in demand in the next three months, almost half (43%) of those NFPs surveyed stated fundraising, marketing, communications and events teams are their top priority (up from only a quarter last year). 36% are recruiting counselling, casework and frontline roles and 33% are focusing primarily on program and project delivery roles. “During the early stages of the pandemic, where events and face-to-face volunteer fundraising became impossible, we witnessed a necessary pivot towards online fundraising strategies and the need for relevant digital skills in this area,” says Richard. “We’re now seeing a renewed energy for and more diverse approach to fundraising, and subsequent high demand for the talent required to generate these essential revenue streams.”
After two and half years of resilience and responding effectively in times of crisis, the sector is now focused on driving essential program delivery. Optimism is currently high, with 45% of NFPs surveyed expecting the recent change in federal government to have a positive impact on their organisation.
Although hiring and program delivery intentions for the next 12 months are strong, NFPs will continue to face the challenges of a highly competitive labour market. As a result, talent attraction and retention strategies need to be ever-more sophisticated with a move away from an over-reliance on reputation, towards a specific focus on offering workplace flexibility, competitive remuneration and career progression.
“NFPs need to take a more entrepreneurial approach to finding talent as it’s not just about posting an advertisement online,” says Richard. “In this current climate, recruitment in our sector is like finding a needle in a haystack, and it can take weeks or sometimes months of searching to find the right person. NFPs, therefore, need to have the right workforce planning in place and make sure internal and external hiring processes are as flexible and agile as possible.”
*Compared to NGO Recruitment’s Hiring Intentions survey findings FY2021/2022.
ABOUT THE SURVEY
In July 2022, NGO Recruitment surveyed a cross-section of 100 Australian NFPs to gain a snapshot of hiring and remuneration intentions over the next 12 months, current recruitment challenges and the lasting impact of the pandemic on the sector. Comparisons are made with NGO Recruitment’s Hiring Intentions survey findings FY2021/2022.