The CEO of StaffingBoutique.org provides valuable advice on staff reductions. Preparation is key. Leaders need to consider the implications of staff reductions well in advance and plan for them accordingly. This includes outlining the timing of actions and specifying the communication that will occur. It is crucial to recognize that reductions of staff affects the entire workforce. Therefore, leaders should engage with the remaining staff, being transparent about why the changes are being made and what the expectations are for the future. It is also important to acknowledge that staff reductions can create feelings of job insecurity among employees. Therefore, strategies for exit interviews should be implemented to provide affected employees with the opportunity to voice their concerns.

In the nonprofit sector, it is not common to offer ‘reduction packages’ to affected employees. Nevertheless, leaders should still be proactive in ensuring that staff reductions are handled with care and compassion. By being transparent and communicating effectively, leaders can foster a sense of trust and ensure that employees feel valued even during times of change. Ultimately, the way in which staff reductions are handled can have a significant impact on an organization’s culture and reputation, making it vital for leaders to approach this process with care and sensitivity.¬† More about Staffing Boutique

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Julia Patrick
We are so glad you’re here for another episode of the nonprofit show Today, we Katie Warnick. Katie has been With us from the very beginning has been joining us for about 3 years now, maybe more monthly to share with us about all kinds of things going on in the workforce. So again, for those of you watching and listening, Katie Warnick has joined us, CEO of Staffing Boutique and she’s here to talk to us about a very popular. Although maybe not a fun conversation, but it’s it’s one that’s important, is downsizing your nonprofit staff. So stay with us. Because I think this is something all nonprofits at some point right, we’ll have to have to deal with. But Julia Patrick, we are so glad that you created this platform for us to have the conversation. Julia is the CEO at the American nonprofit Academy, and I am so very lucky to serve alongside Julia Day in and day out. As the nonprofit Nerd and Co host. CEO of the Raven Group and I really love nerding out over so many conversations. And today is one that is going to hit home pretty hard. So I’m I’m excited to have you here to talk to about that. Again, thank you to our presenting sponsors, these companies including Staffing Boutique where Katie is allow us these opportunities. And we have. Produced 800 nearly 800 episodes talking about any and all things that relate to the nonprofit sector. So a huge shout out to our friends over at Boomerang American nonprofit Academy fundraising Academy at National University nonprofit thought Leader your Part Time controller again, staffing boutique nonprofit Nerd. And nonprofit tech talk, check out these companies because I like to say their mission is your mission. They want to help you do more good in, around and throughout your. Community and I mentioned 800 episodes, and if you’re thinking I had no idea and you want to go back and see what we talked about, see what other topics Katie and her team have brought to us, you can find these episodes on a streaming broadcast podcast platform and the latest and greatest is to download the app. So we now have the nonprofit show. If you haven’t downloaded it, Katie, I highly recommend because you will get a notification in just a few hours that your episode is now uploaded on the app. So again Katie, welcome back.
Katie Warnock
Thanks for having me.
Julia Patrick
Yeah, I’m really excited. So to remind all of you, Katie Wardick, CEO and Founder Staffing Boutique joins us from the Greater New York community and it’s really been a lot of fun because for the last three years as Julie and I have said, Katie, you have brought so much like to the show in real time. You know what’s happening in New York? What are you seeing? What’s changing? How is the landscape evolving? So I’m just so grateful to have you and talk about reporter on the streets. Like, I feel like you’re, you know, you’re a reporter from New York. So thank you.
Speaker
Yeah. You’re welcome.
Katie Warnock
Thanks for watching.
Julia Patrick
Tell us a little bit about what you do and your team at Staffing Boutique.
Katie Warnock
Sure. So I’ve actually been doing recruiting for the nonprofit sector only. Almost. Oh, goodness, 20 years at this point, I started staffing boutique in 2011. We are a small woman owned business and we do temp temp to perm and permanent staffing for the nonprofit sector and charter schools and then New York, New Jersey area. So umm totally started. Very small and it’s it’s crazy to. Imagine how how much we’ve grown. It’s insane.
Julia Patrick
I love seeing you on LinkedIn. You know you and Dana, you’re constantly, you know, pushing out post you’re hiring. You’re hiring. You’re hiring, so you have got so much going on. And I love that you serve this niche market. So thank you for. So again, today, we’re really going to talk about nonprofit downsizing and what what exactly that looks like. And we’re going to start off talking about leadership preparation, Katie. So how does leader? Prepare staff for reductions and again so many changes over the last three years, right? So what preparation look like?
Katie Warnock
So I think that the. Theme just across the board with me is always communication and I think that that’s the best way to go into this. Just always communicating what needs to be done, why you’re downsizing and being completely honest. Obviously it’s a big decision to downsize your nonprofit, so it’s going basically what, from the board to executive leadership? So strategy needs to be in place and how it is going to be communicated, because it really should only be communicated all at once. You know, you don’t want to have a staff of people that are basically. On Edge every day not knowing about the changes that are going to, you know, occur over what, two weeks, three months. Who knows? So I think that communication and strategy is really where you need to start. You really only have that one opportunity to. And make a last impression on staff that. Has been good. To you. So how are you going to do that and how are you going to do that successfully and roll it out smoothly is really important. That makes sense.
Julia Patrick
That makes sense, and I love that you say like you don’t want to keep staff on edge and I feel like over the last three years, right, like there’s been so much change for better and for worse, right. But there has been a lot of workforce changes. Again, maybe some have been. Initiated by the employee themselves resigning changing positions. But then there’s also been decisions made by leadership made by economic factors, right, that have just required some some staff changes so. That on edge I can imagine is something that probably bubbles up to the surface. So are you seeing are you are? Do you recommend right? If you’re kind of hearing the percolations of staff talk. Taking some uncomfortable or you know when are they next? Or are we safe to stay here? Like, what do you recommend once that kind of starts percolating at the at the surface?
Katie Warnock
So I think that that’s why you need to be tactful about how you are going to announce layoffs. I think that, you know, with nonprofits when we had that big layoff, whenever that was in 2009, I think that one way to tackle it was to see who wanted to do a voluntary furlough or maybe take a package at that point or just. You know, essentially cut down hours. So I think announcing it that way could be a good cost effective way to. Do it but then also be strategic on time on who is going to be laid off basically right after that. Keep in mind that announcing these layoffs is going to disrupt everyone. It’s not just the ones that are going to be laid off, right, especially, you know, I talk about New York. So a lot of organizations are just very small, little literally small. We don’t have the space, you know, so it’s a very tight knit organization. So everyone is essentially family. If you have that good dynamic at your organization, you know the people that are are going to be sticking around are going to be just as hurt, shocked, touched. By this, so you really need to keep that in mind. So I think you need to be really strategic again how you communicate in what sort of timely manner and also have HR ready to go with exit interviews. So exit interviews, I think we did a whole episode on these at one point. But I think that you can. In a mass layoff or something like that, use your exit interviews a little bit differently. Use them as a way to #1. Collect data on what your people that are going to be leaving say about your organization and that will help shape the culture of the organization going forward. But you also want. To allow them to sort of be. An opportunity for your information or your organization to give out a bunch of information that’s going to be pertinent as these people exit. So what does that mean? So anything about COBRA benefits resources to get them new jobs sharing their information on LinkedIn or any sort of listserves out there. Anything like that? And then on top of that? The people that are being laid off are going to have lots of questions. You know, who who made this decision and being able to let them ask questions and have answers, them answers for them. Because remember, you want to do this tactfully and skillfully and politely, because social media is a thing. If it is not handled well. Everyone will know, you know, it’s really quick. You know how how word gets out. So you want to be really tactful on how you tackle your exit interviews and a layoff.
Julia Patrick
Social media is a thing and and the other thing I believe has changed legally is that you cannot ask a staff member to sign, like a disparagement closure. You know that says like, hey, you’re not going to tarnish, you know, the organization or say anything ill will right like. I don’t know. Is that something you can speak on, Katie? Because I believe that’s a recent change, right? Like that we cannot. Ask staff to sign something on an exit process or procedure that says that they won’t say anything bad, and then there’s, you know, platforms like glass door and other, you know, places that they really look to get this feedback from staff.
Katie Warnock
Yeah, I have no idea about the legal ramifications of doing that, but you know, obviously Glassdoor has been out there for a while. So you know. Their reviews and people write reviews about organizations, and there are a lot of people. That rely on. Those reviews to decide if they’re going to work at said organization. But the other thing too, I’ve been seeing a lot of just this newer generation just as they’re departing organizations, writing almost just blogs about how terrible an organization is. And it’s insane. To me, because I come from the school of thought, like, how do you think? You’re ever going to get employment again. Now, why are you bad mouthing? You know publicly on a blog, a former employer, but but it has.
Julia Patrick
Well, I was gonna say right, like even cause I live in Metro Phoenix. You’re in Metro New York. Like, even that we are big cities, but we are small nonprofit communities. Right. And so there there’s a lot of communication communication that that gets out, so, OK, so let’s talk of then about confidence.
Katie Warnock
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Julia Patrick
And instilling this within, you know staff. So how do you instill staff confidence during labor changes? What what are some things that we can look?
Katie Warnock
I think communication is still going. To be, you know my first answer, but you know, making sure that your staff is aware of why this is occurring. So we’re talking about nonprofits. So what are the financials? Where did the organization maybe not meet goals? Was government funding cut somewhere? Why is there a specific layoff? So I think being really tactful. About how you communicate. The reason of why is going to make everyone’s sort of understand they’re going to mourn the loss of their coworkers. Of course, allow that, but also allow them to. Sort of navigate the future of the organization. While they stay. And you can do that by, you know, showing them a career path there, instilling job security because at some point during a mass layoff job security was was taken from even the people that are staying there. So make sure that they know that you know. You did a. Good job. We’re applauding you. And This is why we kept you. And this is where we see you going with the organization. So really being clear and communicative on how you do that with them will really like instill confidence.
Julia Patrick
And I think too, being proactive, right, like with that communication and I I know it’s tricky that you know you don’t want certain layoffs or terminations to get like you don’t want that to be known before it actually happens maybe to certain groups. So that’s kind of tricky, but are you recommending? Maybe that we now get together more often, like there’s more team meetings, there’s more kind of like, you know, fun activities that helps to really reinvigorate this stuff.
Katie Warnock
Yeah, of course. I’ve always said that, that’s. A good idea? Hoping that slowly but surely, everyone is returning to the office. You know, that’s still not really a huge thing here. You know, a lot of we’re still on hybrid schedules here. So yeah, maybe doing a town hall or a monthly newsletter or Q&A. So we’re not just meeting on, you know, review time. So what does that look like? Quarterly or monthly team building outings. You know, professional development conferences, things like that.
Julia Patrick
No, I I like that because you’re right, there’s a remote workforce. There’s an in person workforce, there’s a hybrid workforce. There’s still so many staff members I hear Katie, that have yet to meet each other, right, like in person. And so really looking at this from all different angles and not to mention and I know we’re not going to get into like legal, HR. But you know every state is different. So if you have a remote workforce and they’re working in different states around the nation, all of that, you know, has a factor, but it’s still to me. What I’m hearing is communication, right, like keeping the culture positive. I love the transparency that you you really post so.
Katie Warnock
Yeah, yeah, that’s important. The other thing too is after a mass layoff, there tends to be like turnover contagion, which is essentially all my friends. So now I’m going to go to. It makes you sort of reevaluate what your thoughts are on the organization. So people tend. To just leave or look for work elsewhere because they’re friends left you. Know I work with one of my schools that I work with a principal left mid year and took eight of their teachers with them. You know.
Speaker
Right.
Katie Warnock
So you know, you really need to. Be aware of the signs of what’s. Going on and you know you. Want to make sure. That you handle that layoff correctly.
Speaker
Right.
Katie Warnock
To be strategic, to make sure that your. Staff does stay with you.
Julia Patrick
You know, Kitty, I love that and it was really, you know, the first slide is how to how to leadership, prepare for staff reductions. I love that you mentioned, you know, asking for volunteers to to choose, you know, exactly to be laid. Maybe these are, you know, staff that have been on a long time. Maybe they’re close to retirement. Maybe they have other, you know, issues, challenges at home or outside of work that has really been impacting a lot of things. And so I’m just going back to like if we could make this, you know, a volunteer opportunity, someone to say hey. I’ll step up. You know, like I could use this. I’m just going back to that, but I don’t see that often.
Katie Warnock
You know what it is in the New York area, we have so many actors and actresses and opera singers that get into nonprofits because maybe they wrote grants or something like that for a program, and then they wind up full time and then they wind up getting accustomed to a full time salary, but they’re still very passionate about whatever their art. Maybe so. I see it actually kind of often where, you know when opera singer is like, oh goodness, I would love to be laid off. I would now have six months to go and travel, you know, with. With the opera that I’m a. Part of full time, you know. So it it works. Here, now again, I don’t know the. Phoenix area but.
Julia Patrick
Yeah, but I I just. Think that’s really valid, you know, but we we’ve talked about over the last three years in many ways, you know how a lot of CEO’s and leadership positions have hung on during this tumultuous time and a lot are tired, right? And and so they might say, OK, I’m ready. I’m ready for that retirement now, so keeping the confidence is is critical.
Katie Warnock
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
Julia Patrick
Talk about stress. How can we deal with the stress of management that has to do The Dirty work and I’m I’m calling it The Dirty work, right? Because I don’t think anyone wakes up in in the day and says I can’t wait to lay off some people knowing that impact, right? So how can we deal with stress of management? That has to act on these actual reductions.
Katie Warnock
Yeah, I mean, I don’t. Think that you need me to say this? But you know, I’m. I’m a big. Self-care person. So doing all the things that you should be doing anyway to take care of yourself during this, you know, at the end of the day it is just work. So how do you separate yourself from? Any other stress that’s going on, this is just an added part of your job, right? So drinking a lot of water, taking vacation days, getting massages, making sure you’re getting active, getting sun exposure, you know? All of those little things go a long way. You’re not just doing that one day every six months. You know, it’s not the self-care one day sort of situation. It’s little bits every day help reduce 10 minute walks a day, you know, reading whatever it is, getting your sleep. You know, taking your magnesium yadda yadda yadda.
Julia Patrick
Some mindfulness. Practice you when you said massage was like, Oh yes, I’m long. And I think holding each other accountable, right, like, like talking to your peers, having leadership supervisors say, you know, hey, when was the last time that you took the afternoon off or when was the last time, you know, that you went and got a massage? And I think just really, you know, continuing to recommend and remind our our peers. Of this, there’s a lot of heavy ****.
Katie Warnock
Yeah, and remembering, obviously there are vacation days to take, you know, and not everything of the organization is on one person. You know, you have a team. You can take a day off.
Julia Patrick
And you should. Take a day off right, because anytime I hear someone, Katie, and they’re like, oh, I haven’t taken a vacation in two years. I’m like red flag. Red flag.
Katie Warnock
Yeah, that’s terrible.
Julia Patrick
It’s terrible and I don’t think it’s brag about, but yet people are still bragging.
Katie Warnock
As fear of law. Yeah. No, I know.
Julia Patrick
I know it it it makes it really hard. Well, I too. I’m a huge proponent for self-care regardless of what that looks like, what time it falls in. You know, even for some people that are working from home. In fact, I was talking to a very high performer at AFP icon Katie. And she. Yeah, she has a team and. She’s like I. Even put my naps on my schedule. Like my staff knows that I’m taking a 45 minute power nap, right, like in the middle of the day and and she just calls it out. She’s very transparent with that and that helps her, you know, really. Just stay well, so I think important.
Speaker
Yeah, that’s huge.
Julia Patrick
OK, let’s talk about these packages. You mentioned it earlier in today’s conversation. What do and I’m going to say, what can reduction packages look like?
Katie Warnock
I saw this slide and I laughed because I was just like, does that happen in nonprofits? And like I said to you, you know, I think that we’re in our own little animal in the nonprofit sector. You know when. I saw, you know benefits package like I I’ve obviously seen benefits packages. Go to CEO. And then you know more. So in higher Ed in the hospital foundation world, I’ve seen packages, but other than that, you know, I really haven’t seen packages. I guess the rule of thumb is for every year that a person works, it would be one to two weeks of pay. Would be essentially what is. But but again, I I don’t see it often with nonprofits, so I think just having you.
Speaker
OK.
Katie Warnock
You know, information about COBRA. This is how you collect unemployment, you know, and and PTO approval, you know to be paid out is essentially what we’re looking at when we’re talking about nonprofits.
Julia Patrick
And some staff that might have been, you know, tenured, they’re there for a long time, they might have a lot of carryover PTO, but I can’t help. But thank Katie, how that will impact the organization financially, right? So this is something I think we need to talk about well in in advance of doing the layoff because that could be a financial hit, right.
Speaker
Huge. Yeah, huge.
Katie Warnock
It’s a huge financial hit.
Julia Patrick
How do we prepare for that? Because I mean, I’m assuming if we’re making some layoffs, it’s also because of some financial insecurity. I know a lot of organizations that we’ve talked about this on the show have received a huge influx rate of of Cares Act funding and PPP, right, like like a huge influx of funding. And then now it’s starting to go back down. So one of one of my clients, right, they went from 6,000,000 to 11 million to 17 million, now they’re going back to six.
Katie Warnock
Right.
Julia Patrick
And so if they, you know, if they have staff that they need to consider terminating, that’s a big hit to the pocketbook.
Katie Warnock
Yeah, I love that you said that, but I just don’t think we’re at a. Place that anyone in. The nonprofit sector was budgeting for packages.
Julia Patrick
I would agree, and I’m not seeing it.
Katie Warnock
Right. Yeah, I mean, I was talking about the last time I was on, like, nonprofits weren’t budgeting for, you know, paying their development people more, you know? And it’s just. They they never budget correctly and they’re always behind because they’re planning on the the next fiscal year, you know. So I certainly don’t think that they’re big dollars to be paid out. So I think you have to be creative creative about what you’re going to be offering. In terms of severance?
Julia Patrick
So I want to ask you, you know, there’s been a lot of concern of the economy, right? Like, what’s going to happen? You mentioned 2009. I was a reduction in force and at that time, which was actually the impetus to start my business. You know, so silver lining of being a reduction. But what are you seeing by way of the economy? Right. Because there’s so much uncertainty and we’ve had uncertainty again for the last three years, but a long runway, but what are you starting to see?
Katie Warnock
To be honest, you know the last time I was on, I I don’t see anything different from what last month or two months ago. It’s kind of been holding steady. I haven’t seen a bunch of layoffs. I still see jobs out there. I don’t think. That you know, anything is going to change. Until maybe 2020. Four, to be honest with you. So we’ll see. We’re we’re holding steady. I’m not going to say that it’s as busy as it was 8 months ago. It definitely isn’t, but I feel like we’ve leveled off and everybody is sort of in their. Groove right now.
Julia Patrick
You know one thing I’m seeing is I’m seeing a lot of kind of that C-Suite position open. Setting up and so whether it’s someone who’s leaving as CEO or development director, you know, position and so organizations because one of the service lines I do Katie, is interim work, right. And if I could fill my plate with and do like 10 of them right now, I would. But that is like there are so many organizations that are looking. For like an executive level leader to come in because they’re experiencing transition there and I I hate to say this, the majority of them do not have a succession plan in place for the staff that is remaining right, so. There’s no one there that’s been identified as CEO. There’s no one else there that’s been identified as development director and even some of these other, you know, even Chief Financial Officer like there’s a lot of positions. So I I am seeing that where I am getting a lot more inquiries around the interim work I do because they’re. Hiring and and and not having good success really at filling these higher level position.
Katie Warnock
I could see that because so for so long, so many people that were expected to retire or planning on moving just held on to their jobs because they don’t want to leave their organization high and dry. They really didn’t know what the future holds, and now you know it’s time for them to move on. So I I could definitely see that trend.
Julia Patrick
Gosh, there’s there’s a lot going on, but this is a wonderful conversation because regardless, you know of us looking at. That downsizing nonprofits, you know that it’s inevitable. All of us will have to downsize, or at least makes kind of a staff change, right? Maybe you didn’t hire the right staff person, or you’re you’re finding out that you know it’s just not quite quite a cultural fit either. So, Katie, you always bring some of the best information. To us. So Katie Warner. CEO and founder at Staffing Boutique check out her website, itsstaffingboutique.org. Again, she niches in this nonprofit market market. Also works with a lot of charter schools. I just love hearing from you and your colleague Dana, because you really bring so much tangible information. For us. This uh to learn from, and again it’s ever evolving and I love that you’re transparent about that.
Katie Warnock
It’s always a good conversation. Thanks for having me.
Julia Patrick
Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you. Also, you know, when Julie and I heard from you, as you know this story because.
Katie Warnock
You wrote the.
Julia Patrick
But you reached out to us early early in what we were doing, the Corona Chronicles at that time. Right. And just said, hey, you know, I love what you’re doing. Would love to help you out with that. So thanks to you, we are so glad to have you. Probably as our very first sponsor here. So thank you to Katie Warnick staffing boutique for being one of our amazing presenting. Answers also want to give a shout out of gratitude to Boomerang American nonprofit Academy fundraising Academy at National University nonprofit thought Leader your Part time controller, nonprofit tech talk nonprofit Nerd. And another shout out to staffing boutique Katie. Thank you. It’s always a pleasure. Yeah, it’s so great. To have you here learning from you day in and day out. You know, would love to get you here at Arizona. And yes, I I wouldn’t mind coming to you as well. So thanks for spending your time with us and please do follow Katie and Staffing Boutique online as well as LinkedIn. She’s constantly posting these job opportunities and she herself is hiring so shameless plug. For you there.
Katie Warnock
Thank you.
Julia Patrick
Yeah, I hope. I hope that you find the the best fit, but hey, for all of you that have joined us to get today. Thank you. And for those of you that might be watching on one of our many streaming platforms, thank you for joining us as well. Well, and join us back tomorrow, but as we end every episode, we want to remind you, especially after today’s conversation, right, to stay well so you can continue to do well. Thank you, Katie.
Katie Warnock
Have a good one. Bye.