Ron Clewer, Chief Operating Officer

Surviving is about sustaining life. Thriving is characterized by success or prosperity. Which of these would you use to describe our sector and your organization?

As a leader of a former member agency and now the chief operating officer (COO) of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, I have a unique perspective on the value the Alliance brings to its members, network, and beyond. This value was confirmed recently when an Alliance member said, “the DNA of the Alliance is its ability to bring disparate and varied organizations together to build networks of people working towards a collective vision.”

Our paths, outcomes, and touch points on society may be different, but at the end of the day we all want those we serve to achieve their hopes and dreams. To get there, we need to think selfishly for a moment. Yes, I said selfishly and not selflessly.

I am troubled by recent trends from the Alliance’s 2017 U.S. human services workforce trends report. Nearly 69 percent (148 organizations) cited not having a formal recruitment plan. Fifty-five percent have adjusted job descriptions by lowering qualifications to fill roles. Only 38 percent are utilizing hiring practices that promote equity and diversity. Just 33 percent have retention plans. When asked if these conditions were “hindering their organization’s progress towards its goals,” nearly 75 percent were neutral to stating it “does not hinder at all” such progress. By looking at this information, I want to show risk points and opportunities for building strength and improvement.

As a former leader of a member organization, I saw that the value of the Alliance was our ability as a strategic action network to recognize these trends and lean in together to solve them. This is the same value I see as COO, although now I admittedly use different words to explain it. Our real value is our reciprocityOur promise to you, and your promise to each other to work collectively to solve for our Intermediate outcomes, in the member-led Theory of Change.

If you joined us two weeks ago in Tampa, Fla. for our Innovation Design Summit: Building a 21st-Century Social Sector Workforce, you know our network is on its way to solving these and other workforce challenges. If you were unable to participate in the summit, please join us for upcoming workforce webinars and in our HR Alliance Peer Exchange (APEX) as this discussion continues. We must address the instability of our workforce if we are going to help others achieve well-being.

For us to reach our collective vision of a healthy and equitable society, we must first be healthy and equitable organizations; this isn’t selfish or self-centered, I just needed the hook to keep you reading. Becoming a healthy and equitable organization is taking the time to reflect on our own needs while also living the vision and leaning in on change! #bethechange #AllianceDesigns

For more analysis of and information about our sector’s workforce, you may want to obtain the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ 2017 U.S. Human Services Workforce Trends and Compensation Study. This study provides important salary data for offering competitive compensation packages, and the 2017 study was significantly expanded to explore the trends, opportunities, challenges, and lessons learned in strengthening the nonprofit workforce. The Performance Excellence APEX group is also an excellent place to network with others in the field and participate in learning opportunities related to performance excellence, quality assurance/improvement, and outcomes measurement.

Whether you are struggling, thriving, or somewhere in between, the myAlliance collaboration platform offers a space for you to pose questions, find answers, offer solutions, share resources, and collaborate with your peers.

You are invited to join our powerful network of sector professionals by logging into myAlliance (use the same credentials that you use to register for our webinars and conferences). Participate in any of our top-level discussions, join an APEX, or explore the resources available in the Alliance Library. To learn more about myAlliance, download our self-guided tour.