Get the basics right Until you get recruitment right, it's difficult to build trust within the organisation. In my experience of the sector, recruitment is often more like fire-fighting than planning for the long term. For example, there always tends to be a high turnover of fundraisers, especially in London, because they are in such demand. They can leave and then walk straight into another job the next day, so it makes sense to try to plan for this.
If at first you don't succeed ... think again When I joined Action for Blind People earlier this year, I found that if nobody applied for an advertised post, the position would simply be advertised again. Now we look at the position again and we consider whether or not to use a recruitment agency. Then we decide how to proceed.
Tailor benefits They should be flexible - in other words you should adapt them to each individual employee. Not everyone will want a free gym membership, so there should be something else on offer for those who don't, such as the option of buying more holiday. In the new year, we plan to offer childcare vouchers and introduce a cycle-to-work scheme.
The HR department needs to work at director level so that it can influence change. But at the same time it needs to understand the organisation and realise that it is there to provide a support service. Other departments may often feel that they don't know what HR does, so it's doubly important to get things right.
Use flexibility to your advantage HR in the voluntary sector tends to be more flexible than in the public sector. Before my last job, I worked mostly in the NHS and in education. The public sector tends to be governed by more regulation, whereas charities can give you the scope to really make a difference in your role.