With staff turnover at record levels and employees looking for purpose at work, businesses should turn to a novel source for recruitment – the charity sector. This is the finding of a new report The Great British Talent Swap by the Leadership Council and Pilotlight which draws on research with a range of business leaders.

The report identifies the growing corporate enthusiasm for ‘purpose’ as an opportunity to bring in skills from the charity sector which has long had a single-minded focus on purposeful impact.

This suggests that the ‘great resignation’ currently being seen of staff turnover across labour markets is an opportunity for companies to source talent in entirely new ways. The next agenda for HR Directors is how to connect with and benefit from the charity sector.

Contributors to the report include:

  • Steve Murrells, CEO of The Co-op, who says “I want a more inclusive work force. For this reason, the idea of a cross fertilisation of talent from the charity sector will be a powerful idea for us to take forward.”
  • Sir Harvey McGrath, Chair of Big Society Capital, former Chair of Prudential plc, who says: “There has been some flow of people between business and NGOs, but much has been in one direction and yet the benefits of taking experience from the ‘non commercial’ into the ‘commercial’ world can be impressive.”
  • Melanie Richards, non-executive director at Morgan Stanley, who says: “This adds up to a compelling argument for more organisations to open themselves up to partnerships, dialogue and talent exchanges across the business/charity divide.”
  • Sally Bailey, former CEO of White Stuff, who adds: “I chair the charity Pilotlight which works with business leaders to match them with not-for-profits. The charities present with a problem or challenge and Pilotlight curates teams of business people to work with the charity leaders to support them through strategic coaching and advice. Business leaders also learn from the charity leaders. They not only get to experience life in a different sector but also learn different ways of leading, different ways of listening and of influencing.”

At the same time, the report cautions that there are risks in accelerating transfers between the two sectors. Amanda Mackenzie, CEO, Business in the Community comments that “crossing over, cross-fertilisation between these worlds is not for the faint hearted. Travelling in either direction there will be culture shocks and bumps in the road.”

Pilotlight, of course, is here to help. We know that engaging with the world of charities can be developmental for those from the commercial sector, as well as beneficial to the charities that we partner with.

The idea that charities can benefit from business support is well known, but here is a new idea that business leaders are starting to explore, that business can benefit from skills found in abundance in the charity sector.