Impact at Work: New Hope Housing Project Spotlight
As we kick off National Volunteer Week, we want to take the opportunity to thank all of our incredible skilled volunteers who support our work. While this week is centered around volunteers, we are showcasing two inspiring stories of impact from our nonprofit partners, who have recognized the true value of skills-based volunteers and the long-term impact they can have on an organization. Today we’re highlighting a project with a talented team of volunteers from JPMorgan Chase and its nonprofit partner, New Hope Housing, Inc., whose mission is to provide low-income vulnerable families and individuals high-quality affordable housing and the tools to build a better life. In 2016, Common Impact paired New Hope Housing with a team of HR professionals from JPMorgan Chase in Houston, TX to review and enhance their current employee performance review process to improve greater consistency in deployment.
A year after the project wrapped, Jerry Brown, SPHR, MBA Director of Human Resources and Nicole Cassier-Mason, VP of Fund Development/Communications speak to the long-term impact this project had on their organization.
1. Why was this project a priority for your organization?
We were at a real point of growth in 2016 – in all facets of our business – and it was important to us to make sure we had the right infrastructure in place. Performance management is one of the key components to building a strong workforce, and we wanted to make sure we were prepared for the future. The lion’s share of our employee population are non-exempt so we knew we needed to look at ways to increase engagement and measure performance. Throughout this project, we noticed that a stronger connection between an employee and their manager meant greater productivity and a stronger connection to mission.
This project marked a pivotal point for our organization, as we were expanding our mission to develop different types of housing for various populations living on low incomes. This was a new chapter for New Hope Housing, and we needed a strong workforce in place to accomplish our near- and long-term goals. We had mechanisms and processes in place before, but had to make sure they were more efficient so the work wasn’t as time consuming for our managers. As the organization matures, it is imperative that our internal processes evolved as well. Additionally, we intentionally made performance management a shared goal between our communications and HR departments so the whole organization was working in tandem to roll out new initiatives.
2. What impact did this project have on your organization? What are some of the long-term, measurable outcomes?
Overall, the project has been beneficial in a multitude of ways. It allowed us space to take a hard look at our performance management systems from the inside out. We know how important it is to consistently touch base with external investors and donors, but our JPMorgan Chase volunteers helped us realize the importance of bringing that mindset to our internal processes as well. We now have much more frequent touch points between our employees and managers, which has enabled open communication across the whole organization. This new process has sparked excitement from the management team and our employees now feel comfortable discussing their career growth. It is inspiring to see staff at all levels truly bought into the process.
Since 2015, New Hope Housing has had a 50% decrease in employee turnover and a 75% increase in employee retention! Our training and development initiatives have resulted in 28 staff promotions over the past 3 years. Our annual employee survey showed the top reasons staff love working for New Hope Housing, which includes a connection to our mission and strong camaraderie among coworkers. We have JPMorgan Chase and Common Impact to thank for helping us move the needle on these initiatives.
3. What type of knowledge transfer took place over the course of the project? What did you learn from your JPMorgan Chase volunteers?
We were really impressed with the entire JPMorgan Chase volunteer team – we could tell it wasn’t their first rodeo! We respected that they didn’t tell us what we needed to do, but rather put themselves in our shoes to develop a process that would work in a nonprofit environment, especially one as unique as at New Hope Housing. They were understanding of the dynamics of our current process and worked methodically to enhance aspects that were already working well. Internally, our leadership team has learned to train and understand our people better and implement processes that will better position our people for growth and long-term success. Our managers better know how to prepare for difficult conversations and are more vested in facilitating those conversations at a regular cadence.
The performance review form the team created was just the beginning of an ongoing conversation. Although we focused on the performance review process for non-exempt employees, this experience helped us build capacity and provided us with the tools to implement and expand on the process ourselves after the project ended. We learned how to bridge the gap between our offices scattered across multiple sites in Houston and use the existing forms for all employees – both non-exempt and exempt. As of the end of 2017, all of our Officers and Directors are using standardized templates, which has drastically improved our evaluation and streamlined our processes.