Founded in 1987, the Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention (Black CAP) is a non-profit community-based that relies on volunteers to achieve its strategic objectives (Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention 2014).
The Black CAP is a community-driven organisation whose mission is to “reduce the spread of HIV infection within Toronto’s Black communities and enhance the quality of life of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS” (Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention 2014). HIV/AIDS infection spreads at extremely rapid rates among “the Black communities in Toronto in the present time relative to the early 1990s when it was only one-tenth of new HIV infections” (Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention 2014).
Therefore, the Black CAP believes that its role is now critical in the community. The organisation serves “the Blacks, Caribbean and African people in Toronto, who account for over one-fifth of new cases of HIV infections” (Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention 2014). In addition, there are related cases of “discrimination, stigma, racism toward the Black race, homophobia, poverty, immigration and social barriers to inclusion” (Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention 2014). These factors affect effective delivery of services by the Black CAP. Therefore, the objective of the Black CAP is to combat the rising rates of HIV/AIDS infections and related issues among the Black communities on Toronto.
The Black CAP has grown significantly in the past years. Consequently, the workload has also increased, which has resulted in human resource and strategic challenges.
After Ryan was hired at the organisation as the Executive Director, there were several challenges related to services and program, which the Black CAP offered to its clients. There were issues in relationships with funders and potential funders, as well as human resource management (Sigler 1999). Employees did not have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. In addition, the organisation could not identify how to use its staff effectively and focus on emerging opportunities and priorities.
For the last 18 years, “the Black CAP has always experienced challenges of staff shortage” (Black Coalition for AIDS Prevention 2014). However, it created several channels for funding and addressing HIV/AIDS. Staff shortage at the organisation meant that it could not take full advantage of its HIV/AIDS funding opportunities.
The Black CAP had staff shortage and the ED could not cope with the workload from funders. Consequently, Ryan hired new staff to ease the shortage and deliver on the requirements of the funders. However, the hiring process resulted in many employees in the organisation after a short time. While Ryan recognised that hiring new employees was an effective approach in creating a strong workforce to mitigate shortage challenges, he failed to conduct a need assessment to determine the right number of staff required. The ED also noted the high rate of staff turnover, which affected the Black CAP productivity and time.
Staffing remains one most important aspect in workforce planning (Mohamed, Yazam and Ahmid 2011). Staff selectivity is also challenging, but it affects the overall performance of organisational strategic objectives as the ED noted at the Black CAP. It was imperative for the Black CAP to attract and retain the right number of employees with required skills and motivation to work with people living with HIV/AIDS. In addition, such employees had to meet funders’ requirements.
This ensures that organisation achieves positive performance (Größler and Zock 2010). The ED did not know the correct approach to staffing problem at the organisation, which led to hiring of many employees within a short period (Wilk and Cappelli 2003). Therefore, note all staffing approaches are suitable for any organisation. Studies have shown that staff recruitment requires proper choices based on the job, effective performance, outcomes and candidates’ motivation (Mohamed et al. 2011; Osterman 1994). In a non-profit community-based organisation, it is vital to understand employees’ compatibility with values, objectives, personality, skills and behaviours. This may reduce the rate of staff attrition.
Organisations should evaluate their structures before hiring new staff. For instance, the Black CAP had a flat management structure. This meant that any new employee had to report directly to the ED. Consequently, Ryan could not adequately supervise and support employees. In addition, he spent more time on management and supervision and less time on other aspects of organisational roles.
Ryan acknowledges the problem of employee retention at the Black CAP (Bezboruah and Oyun n.d). Several factors, such as competitions in the labour market from both public and private sectors have led to staff attrition at the organisation. This case study shows that ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff for not-for-profit organisations is a biggest challenge. While high rate of employee attrition affects organisational expectations, the same applies to recruiting too many employees.
Black CAP could not afford services of a senior-level HR manager. Consequently, the organisation collaborated with others to address HR challenges and needs. One must acknowledge that collaboration among organisations for HR services is a rare practice in any industry. However, the case study shows that collaboration to achieve services of senior HR practitioners can be an effective approach for non-profit community-based organisations. External consultants can bring insights and develop processes, which help organisations to identify their competencies in terms of skills, attitudes, knowledge, values and experience, which employees should possess to be effective in contributing to organisational strategic objectives.
HR consultants also offer training and coaching services allow employees, including managers to acquire new skills and knowledge. These are high quality services, which some organisations may not afford without collaboration. Through services of Tracy Campbell, Ryan was able to understand the required management structure for Black CAP and an appropriate HR management system.
One can conclude that employee recruitment and retention are the major challenges in non-profit community-based organisations. From the case study, one can observe that several factors are responsible for challenges in human resource management at the Black CAP. First, Ryan says that medical cover for the staff was hardly adequate for employees with HIV. Second, employees worked extremely hard under unfavourable work environment.
For instance, discrimination and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS affect both patients and employees. Third, the organisation cannot offer salaries to match other profit-driven sectors. This has resulted in high rates of staff attrition. The industry is also labour intensive while clients’ expectations (funders have stringent requirements) are high. Growing rates of new HIV/AIDS infections and the need to have adequate funders and potential funders have led to increased workload in the organisation. These situations exacerbate high rates of employee turnover at the Black CAP.
Employees who have gained experience and skills at Black CAP seek employment in other sectors. In some instance, jobs in non-profit community-based organisations are regarded as low-status jobs coupled with poor working conditions, such as health and safety concerns, discrimination in the sector and diverse needs of different clients have led to high rates of staff attrition.
From the case study, one can highlight that a community-based organisation, which relies on services of senior-level human resource consultants, may improve HR practices and develop their organisational structures to meet their unique needs. While such consultants are normally expensive, collaboration among organisations with similar HR challenges can allow them to afford HR consultation services.
External human resource consultants oversee and streamline organisational structures, reporting lines and processes to enhance efficiency. For instance, Ryan learned that he could adopt a new HR structure rather than the flat management approach to facilitate reporting and reduce his workload. Consequently, the ED could offer his support to colleagues and focus on other area of Black CAP operations.
The case study indicates that good HR management practices can solve recruitment and retention challenges in non-profit community-based organisations. The study also highlights how a supporting board can facilitate good HR management practices in an organisation.
It is imperative to recognise that high rates of staff attrition have financial burdens to organisations. These costs are associated with the need to hire and train new employees and additional supervision roles. In addition, staff attrition affects other employees who are left behind in an organisation.
Therefore, any organisations, which experience challenges related to human resource management, particularly recruitment, retention and organisational structures should seek for external assistance from consultants, who will be able to develop practices and processes to meet needs of such organisations. In this respect, other than salaries and compensations, recommendations should focus on the following aspects of human resources management.
Organisations should consider diversity when recruiting. For instance, Black CAP recognised that its clients suffered disabilities in terms of HIV infections and compromised health. Consequently, the organisation focused on hiring people with HIV. This was an attempt to reduce cases of workplace discrimination, secure jobs and retain employees. The organisations also recognised minorities like recent immigrants and new Canadians who may have difficulties in finding employment. Hence, recruiting diverse workforce facilitates employment recruitment and retention.
Organisations should provide benefits that meet unique needs of their employees. For example, before Ryan joined Black CAP, employees received minimum and capped medical and dental cover while their medical expenses were extremely high. However, Ryan eliminated the capped system, introduced flexible workday and employees could ask for extra vacation time. The body and executives have recognised employees’ efforts, dedication and hard work while the abuse of the system hardly takes place. This is a way of acknowledging employees’ contribution to Black CAP objectives.
Organisations should focus on employee development and engagement. Ryan has recognised that employees in non-profit organisations tend not to stay in an organisation for more than five years. Executives should focus on developing and promoting personal careers of their staff. For instance, Ryan asks his employees about their plans and career progress. In addition, he helps employees to develop new skills and experience for achieving their visions. This has resulted in commitment and competent employees for Black CAP. In the end, Black CAP believes that its former employees would carry its mission to their new workplaces, be its ambassadors and supporters through volunteering, funding and endorsing the organisation in the community.
This is a form of talent management in Black CAP, which enhances employee engagement. Gibbons notes that “employee engagement is a heightened emotional and intellectual connection that an employee has for his/her job, organisation, manager, or co-workers that in turn influences him/her to apply additional discretionary effort to his/her work” (Gibbons 2006 p. 5). This captures what Ryan has been able to achieve at Black CAP by focusing on employee development to achieve engagement.
Employees develop passion for an organisation when they engage in activities that offer personal development. Consequently, they take initiatives to enhance organisational performance and outcomes by striving to deliver the unexpected outcomes. Highly engaged employees tend to point out positive attributes of an organisation. This contributes to low staff attrition, improves performance, customer services and productivity.
Issues about human resource activities are critical in organisational performance and success. However, one must note that organisations can only achieve excellent performances through their employees. For instance, Ryan acknowledges that Black CAP’s achievements have resulted from commitment and dedication of its employees. Employees demonstrate professionalism, commitment and willingness to work hard if required. One must recognise the role of leadership and its influences on employee’s commitment, performance, professionalism and dedication to an organisation (Whitener 2001). Ryan notes that the board is supportive at Black CAP. At the same time, it is necessary for managers to get involved by taking their time to coach, mentor, train and assist employees to improve on their performances. Morton found out that leadership quality accounted for as much as “45 percent of an organisation’s performance” (Morton 2005 p. 21).
Overall, not-for-profit organisations cannot compete with private and public sectors in benefits and salaries, they can offer non-financial benefits to their employees as a way of recruiting and retaining them.
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