10 nonprofit employment mistakes

Anyone can misstep when hiring and then managing an employee. Pressure to provide services, along with a need for transparency and accountability, can lead to mistakes that are specific to nonprofits, both during and after the hire.

Siobhan Kelley, an attorney and employment risk manager with the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group, wrote that nonprofits can help eliminate or reduce risks by being aware of the Top 10 nonprofit employment mistakes. They are:

  • Rushing to fill an empty seat with a warm body. Be honest about the frustrating aspects of the job and watch for red flags in the hiring process.
  • Lack of performance/disciplinary records. There is no substitute for written corrective action if an employee lands in trouble.
  • Not requiring managers to document problems. Top-level management should check in with managers about low-performing employees.
  • Independent contractor misclassification. Calling a real employee a “contractor” can land an organization in federal, state and local trouble.
  • Making all employees “salaried.” Start by assuming an employee should be paid on an hourly basis.
  • Letting employees work “off the clock” or on a voluntary basis. Employees cannot volunteer to do the same work they are paid for.
  • Overly optimistic personal policies. Do not write policies for the employees the organization would like to have, but rather for the ones it does have.
  • Not appropriately addressing disability issues. Laws protecting disabled employees have expanded significantly.
  • Treating employees as clients. There are different standards of care.
  • The empty desk: forgetting about the employee on leave of absence.