It’s no mystery that employee engagement is a crucial part of a successful and productive workplace. According to HR Cloud’s employee engagement statistics, highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable and 17% more productive than companies with disengaged employees.
Your nonprofit’s employees are the vital gears of your operation. Their work powers your mission, so it’s important that they’re engaged and invested in your organization. Don’t leave this task to the human resources team alone—as a nonprofit leader, it’s up to you to determine strategy on how to engage employees in your organization’s work. In this guide, we’ll explore five ways your nonprofit can effectively engage its employees:
- Create a positive office culture
- Encourage a healthy work-life balance
- Normalize employee recognition
- Offer opportunities for professional development
- Engage employees through open communication
Using these tips, your nonprofit can make your employees’ involvement in your organization more enjoyable and fulfilling. As a result, your mission will benefit from motivated employees. Let’s begin!
Create a positive office culture
Think of your nonprofit as a classroom. Anyone who has ever been a student knows that a fun, positive classroom environment can make learning enjoyable. In the same way, a positive, healthy office culture will make your nonprofit an organization where employees are happy to work.
Before you can plan to improve your office culture, you have to understand what a good office culture looks like. According to eCardWidget’s company culture guide, there are several signs that point to a good culture within the workplace:
- Long-term employees: Employees won’t want to leave a job that they love. If your nonprofit tends to retain its employees for long periods of time, it’s a good sign that your nonprofit has a positive work culture.
- Healthy team interactions: A good work environment makes it easy for employees to work well together and develop positive interpersonal connections.
- Positive reputation: Employees who enjoy their jobs will speak positively about your organization. Also, their positive attitudes will be reflected in their work and evident to all those who interact with your nonprofit.
To improve your nonprofit’s workplace culture, look for ways to engage your employees and connect them with their fellow team members. Also, ensure your organization’s values guide your nonprofit’s daily operations. Since employees are often attracted to a mission-driven organization for its core values, incorporating these into your daily operations will make employees more inspired to engage.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance
Most employers can agree that dedicated and hard-working employees are the backbone of a successful organization. However, appropriate boundaries should be placed around employees’ work to:
- Avoid burnout.
- Communicate that you understand employees have their own lives outside of your nonprofit.
- Give them the flexibility they need for their other responsibilities.
A healthy work-life balance will not only increase the productivity of your employees but also communicate your understanding that they have other priorities and responsibilities. This level of respect for your employees will not go unnoticed and will likely make them appreciate your organization even more.
You can encourage (and even enforce) a healthy work-life balance by:
- Providing a generous amount of paid time off.
- Requiring employees to take certain breaks, such as around holidays.
- Respecting employees’ out-of-office hours.
Diligently track your employees’ hours to ensure they aren’t overworking, and are being paid in compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Employee management software can help you monitor this and also organize timesheets for employees to keep track, as well.
Normalize employee recognition
Employees who go above and beyond are among your nonprofit’s greatest assets and should be thanked accordingly. Take your acknowledgment of special accomplishments a step further by incorporating employee recognition into your organization’s regular operations.
Establish an employee recognition program in which you establish standards and awards. For example, you might decide that employees should be thanked for finishing their work early. Then, you’ll know to be on the lookout for employees who complete their work early and be prepared to reward them when this happens. For recognition awards, you might give:
- eCards. Digital greeting cards can be customized to share a personal message of gratitude with each employee, making them feel especially recognized on an individual level.
- Public acknowledgment. Sharing your appreciation publicly, such as with a social media shoutout or office party, can go beyond a simple “thank-you” by inviting others to join the celebration.
- Gift cards. A gift card pays for employees to enjoy something that isn’t work-related, such as a meal at their favorite restaurant or a shopping trip. This gift appeals to employees’ interests outside of work, making it a personal way to say thank you.
- Extra time off. Allowing your employees to take extra time off can show them that you value their free time and recognize that their hard work deserves a break.
Also, encourage employees to leverage these strategies (or their own) to recognize one another. For example, enable employees to send each other eCards as a thank-you for work-related tasks or accomplishments. When you implement these recognition strategies as part of your nonprofit’s normal operations, employees will feel regularly noticed and appreciated.
Offer opportunities for professional development
Just as retaining employees can be a sign of an engaged workplace, employees’ excitement about their future at an organization can also motivate them to engage deeply in their work. Provide opportunities for your employees to further their skills in their roles. For example, you might offer:
- Training stipends
- Mentoring opportunities
Different teams will benefit from different types of professional development. For example, members of your human resources department might benefit from meeting with a consultant while your sales team might prefer networking at a weekend conference. Provide several opportunities so that every employee has equal access to professional development.
Beyond strengthening their skills for their current positions, you should also provide opportunities for employees to grow into other roles. Whenever a position at your organization becomes vacant, encourage current employees to interview and explain why they’d be a good fit for the role. When you give these employees the chance to interview first, you’ll show them that their dedication to your nonprofit is noticed and rewarded.
Double the Donation recommends identifying these opportunities and gathering more feedback on employee career goals through one-on-one meetings between managers and employees.
Engage employees through open communication
From fulfilling IRS compliance standards to spreading cause awareness, transparency covers almost everything that nonprofits do on a regular basis. Carry this transparency into the way your organization communicates to show your employees that nothing is being kept from them.
Not only should your organization be transparent with its employees, but you should also encourage them to be open with you. Some ways to ask employees for their input include:
- Surveys: Ask for employees’ feedback or opinions through anonymous surveys. That way, they’ll be able to share their thoughts freely. Each survey should focus on a specific topic, such as compensation or workload, to get detailed thoughts about different issues.
- One-on-one meetings: Connect organization leaders and employees by scheduling regular one-on-one meetings where the employee can discuss concerns, share their overall feelings about the job, and receive feedback on their job performance.
- Management overviews: Hold regular meetings where your nonprofit’s leadership shares an overview of what’s going on with the organization as a whole. For example, you might use this opportunity to show employees how close the organization is to reaching a goal or what issues have blocked your nonprofit from accomplishing something.
- Brainstorming sessions: Ask employees for their ideas about future initiatives or methods of achieving a goal.
Scheduling meetings and surveys is a great start, but you can also leverage software solutions to communicate with employees and encourage engagement. When employees feel listened to and free to voice their opinions and concerns, they’ll be genuinely invested in the organization and its processes.
Increase productivity and the overall culture of your nonprofit by engaging your employees. As you aim to more effectively reach your employees, gather feedback to understand their perceptions of your engagement efforts. By making their opinions feel valued and using the tips from this guide, your employees will be empowered to go above and beyond to further your nonprofit’s mission.
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