Nearly one third of charities find it harder to recruit staff, survey finds

22 Oct 2021 News

Just under a third of charities that responded a recent survey said they were finding it harder than normal to recruit new staff. 

NCVO, Nottingham Trent University and Sheffield Hallam University released the latest wave of their Covid-19 Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer, which tracks how the sector is responding to the pandemic. 

The latest report also reveals how charities are making the shift to hybrid working models, but that when it comes to volunteering charities are more likely to return to pre-pandemic methods. 

Between 13 and 27 September, 349 organisations responded to the survey. 

Staff shortages 

Many sectors are experiencing challenges recruiting skilled staff at the moment, with many blaming Brexit and the pandemic for the difficulties. 

For example, this week Community Integrated Care announced it was giving its frontline staff a 9% salary boost, stating that one of the reasons was to retain talent. 

The latest barometer results show that when 30% of respondents are finding it more difficult to fill vacancies, when compared with their normal expectations for this time of year. Only 6% reported that it is easier to fill vacancies.

Hybrid models 

Yesterday’s report suggests organisations are shifting towards face-to-face services, but that organisations expect to retain online elements.

For the first time the survey found a net decrease in services being delivered online. The proportion of services delivered online fell for 19% of respondents and rose for 15%. 

Half of respondents expect to keep new working methods, with just 40% expecting to return to pre-pandemic working methods. 

When it comes to volunteering 56% of respondents reported that they have shifted back to pre-pandemic methods of volunteering. Only 22% of respondents reported that their volunteers are now mainly working from home instead of where they were volunteering before the pandemic.

Rise in demand 

Respondents continue to expect more demand for their services. 67% said they have experienced more demand and 69% expect demand to rise over the coming month. 

At the same time researchers say there is increased pessimism about finances. 29% of respondents saying that their financial position has deteriorated in the last month, compared to 25% with improved financial position.

Furthermore, 22% of respondents predict that their financial position will get worse. This is notably more than the August survey where 16% of respondents expected their finances to deteriorate. 

‘Picture now looks more uncertain’

Researchers warned that charities now seem more uncertain and said the sector needs to consider how to support the increase in demand for services.  
Oliver Chan, research and insight officer at NCVO, said: “Previous waves of the survey conducted over the summer months showed a renewed optimism following the removal of restrictions about the financial outlook among charities, increases in in-person services and positive figures for both employment and volunteering. 

“However, the picture now looks more uncertain, and we head into autumn and winter with high Covid case numbers. There is a greater expectation among charities that their finances will be negatively impacted and that any decreases in online working or service delivery will level out. Charities are also preparing themselves for increased service demand over the colder months, so we will need to look what measures might be required to support this.”
Daniel King, professor of organisational behaviour at Nottingham Trent University and project lead, added: “Opening is also linked with rising demand as activities that could not be done during lockdowns are now more possible. However, this also creates additional challenges of capacity and resources. 

“As we head into the autumn and winter, the future remains uncertain, and we are seeing a rise in organisations who feel that their finances are deteriorating.”

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