What do Sport Based Youth Development Organizations need to understand about Human Resource Management and Employment Law?

December 17, 2013

This past Thursday, December 12th, Professor Rick Arrowood J.D. delivered a seminar on Human Resource (HR) Management and Employment Law Essentials as a part of our seminar series on Nonprofit Leadership Fundamentals. These 60-minute sessions will be offered specifically to members of the sport-based youth development community in response to expressed needs.  Participants will have the opportunity to learn and ask questions in real time, with face-to-face contact, in a small classroom setting. Prof. Arrowood shared a refreshing perspective on human resource management and recommended best practices on how to strategically implement HR management in a nonprofit organization.

Prof. Arrowood has worked on HR management across many nonprofits. Serving in various leadership roles for nonprofit organizations for more than 20 years, he has come to the conclusion that HRM is key to professional success. HRM informs employees about their tasks and the policies, procedures and processes how to get this task accomplished. At the same time, HRM outlines the liabilities and responsibilities of the organization itself, which protect the people in the organization.

Part of what distinguishes sport-based youth development organizations in the nation’s nonprofit sector is working with youth. For each additional population they serve, from key staff and volunteers to donors and stakeholders, Prof. Arrowood recommended having specific HR management-policies and procedures in place. These procedures can be around safety, security, supervision, technology and transportation. To start framing these procedures, Prof. Arrowood rephrased the issue to one question:  “from the moment we pick up the phone, what do we do?”. This will help guide the construction of a comprehensive HR program.

Prof. Arrowood suggested the next step in implementing HR management in a nonprofit organization is to create an HR-committee. An HR-committee could provide solid advice for board members, since for most organizations the ultimate responsibility for HR management rests with the Board of Directors. Prof. Arrowood recommended a committee consisting of members from various backgrounds (insurance companies, property owners) because each can then review certain policies in their area of knowledge.

Besides organization-specific policies, Employer-Employee Federal and State related laws are part of HRM too. Prof. Arrowood separated these laws into three major categories and recommended knowing which category of laws applies in which situation.

Attendants learned several key takeaways from Prof. Arrowood’s best practices to implement in their own HR management. Essential elements for structured HRM include a personnel handbook, in which the use of language becomes important; clearly defined job descriptions, reporting structures, and specific duties (such as lifting restrictions and issues concerning personnel safety); employee appraisals; and room for professional development.

Lastly, Prof. Arrowood recommended attendants to have volunteer specific HR management structure, in addition to one for the employee paid-positions. A clearly defined role for volunteers will enhance their sense of ownership in the organization, and make them feel useful. The audience found the “content of presentations were exactly on point” and left the seminar feeling “much more in control and prepared to take on HR”. The next seminar for sport-based youth development organizations is about “Getting the Most of Your Non-Profit Board Members” and takes place on February 13th, 2014. The event is free but registration is required; follow this link to sign up!