Are Development Jobs Similar to Playing Pokemon Go?

pokemon go imageMy husband and I like to take walks. In the past couple of weeks, not so surprisingly, we’ve seen people playing Pokemon Go. My husband even downloaded the app to see what was so compelling. We stared at his screen as a little Pokemon figure floated there and we walked close enough to the location to “collect” it. Of course, then we searched the area for others. We didn’t continue, but got the idea.

While I think there are huge benefits to this game (there are a lot of people wandering about that would ordinarily be sitting in front of a console at home), it reminded me that the urge to look for the next best thing to pop up that we can grab is prevalent in all of our lives.

In development, the 18-month average turnover rate for staff is a perfect example. In both cases, you are looking to advance and get other exciting benefits with each new acquisition.

The more senior or higher level you are, the longer you are likely to stay with an organization. But, when you have enough perceived experience, back into the game you go, looking for your next adventure.

The question is then, if you are the CEO or the chair of the Board, how can you make a change at your nonprofit to encourage a longer connection with your employees. What strategies can you take from your stewardship program to lower turnover?

Create incentives to keep the staff invested. Mission alone will not keep an employee, but accomplishments that they can “grab” might. Keep them updated with how their work helped the mission. Offer continued learning opportunities and professional development (consider it an investment in lower turnover) so they can grow within your organization. Ask board members or highly-invested donors to write thank you notes to the staff from time to time.

Above all, remember that turnover costs nonprofits money. No one can focus upon improving donor retention if the department is predominantly populated by new hires who have no relationships with your donors and who are late getting out a mailing.

Our society has turned towards a rewards-based model. “What have you done for me lately,” instead of looking at the long-term investment. So offer both tangible and intangible benefits to remind the staff that they are essential – as essential as the donors. It will encourage lower turnover. And maybe playing less Pokemon Go around the office.