Overworked staff at risk of burnout as charities struggle to fill roles, survey finds

Two in five charity workforces are blighted by overwork and presenteeism, where employees work despite being ill, a survey has revealed.

The survey of 121 UK charities also found that almost a quarter are reporting high levels of burnout.

Burnout and overworking challenges among staff have emerged as just over half of charities are reporting they are struggling to full skill and talent gaps.

More than a third of UK charities have a turnover rate of between 10% and 20% over the last three years.

Nine in ten say they unable to compete with salaries offered in the private sector.

The findings among UK charities have been revealed by human resources firm Personio Foundation within its global survey of staffing and recruitment issues among more than 1,000 not for profit organisations across 115 countries.

Just under a quarter of UK charity representatives surveyed also revealed they are struggling with career development and pathway issues. One in ten say they have high levels of employee turnover.

Lack of time and money are among barriers cited to improving the situation, UK charities warn.

Almost two in five say constrained costs and budget are a barrier, meanwhile more than half say they do not have enough time or resources in human resources to put towards strategic work to improve recruitment and retention.

A fifth say there is too much administration involved and almost a quarter of charities do not have someone specifically responsible for HR.

Onboarding new employees is among HR tasks that take up charities’ time, cited by two in five UK survey respondents.

Other time-consuming processes include the interview process and organising feedback and performance reviews with employees.

Action being taken to help retain workers includes offering learning and development opportunities and flexible working options. These are cited by just over three in five UK charities surveyed.

Offering staff “more appreciation and recognition of work” and improving benefits and salaries are other improvements mentioned more than half of charities.

More than two in five say they are improving performance feedback and review processes.

Small charities

Half of all charities globally surveyed have fewer than ten members of staff.

Personio says that among small charities “HR tasks often fall to the CEOs themselves, who therefore have to take on HR management in addition to other key tasks such as fundraising and project management”.

In addition, around half of all charities surveyed globally do not employ a professional full time member of staff for people management.

In the UK only around a third of charities have a full time HR manager, with the remaining two thirds employing only a part time manager or do not have a dedicated HR role.

A lack of investment in dedicated HR staff and digital tools to help with time consuming recruitment and retention tasks are key challenges facing charities, says Personio Foundation.

Its managing director Philipp Richter says that the use of digital HR tools “is still very low” among charities.

“In addition to traditional project funding, the focus should be more on strategic investments — for example in personnel management and organisational processes,” he said.

“This is the only way for NGOs to create a sustainable organisation that provides the best possible support for their mission and the employees who implement it."

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