With employee turnover at the forefront of employers’ minds across all industries, employee retention is an especially hot topic for nonprofits, whose mission-centered work must always move forward despite setbacks.
In July, Jennifer C. Loftus, Founding Partner of and National Director for Astron Solutions, was joined by Jill Krumholz at RealHR Solutions and Suzanne Smith at Social Impact Architects for NXUnite’s “Employee Appreciation All Year Round: Nonprofit HR Best Practices.” The panelists tackled the basics of employee retention through the lens of employee appreciation, discussing how to best celebrate employees in the nonprofit sector amidst an ever-changing world. Key topics included the need for employer adaptability, communication, and performance management.
Responding to COVID-19: how can employers help employees adapt?
Throughout the panel, Jennifer highlighted the importance of adaptability within our ever-changing world, while also stressing the difficulties of adaptability. Now that we’ve been living with COVID-19 for over two years, she said, “We don’t know what’s coming [next], and at the same time, we know.” Jennifer noted that there’s a comfort in the known and it’s easy to stay in this comfort zone, but it’s clear that now more than ever, adaptability is integral to entrepreneurial culture.
Employees, board members, and volunteers alike need to understand what Jennifer referred to as the “WIIFM,” or “what’s in it for me;” it’s easier to adapt, she says, when end goals are clearly laid out. Employers can and should be direct about their employees’ WIIFMs and should not shy away from letting their employees know how and why they are assigned a certain task or should push forward on a certain project. As NXUnite claims in its tips to boost board member morale, avoiding ambiguity through transparent communication allows those in the mission-driven sector to move forward with purpose as they advocate for their mission.
Communication is key
In order to adapt, transparency is key, and the key to a transparent work environment is communication. Jennifer, along with the Astron team in its recommendations for performance management, recommends performance conversations at least once a week, if not every day, to provide transparency to employees about both what they’re doing well and what they need to work on. Especially in the age of Covid-19, open, direct communication allows for career growth and development.
However, communication is not a one-and-done activity. As Suzanne emphasized, employers often have to communicate the same message seven different times through seven different avenues before the message really sticks in employees’ and volunteers’ minds. Jennifer enthusiastically echoed this sentiment, and all three panelists agreed that when it comes to communication, communication itself is important, but so is how and how often information is communicated.
Performance management leads to overall satisfaction
One way to ensure that employers are constantly communicating with their direct reports is through brief but impactful one-on-ones. These one-on-ones serve as performance management trackers and ensure that managers stay on top of who and what is getting accomplished versus what might need some extra time and effort. Though these weekly 15-minute conversations might feel like a burden or another added item to the calendar, ultimately, Jennifer says, ongoing performance conversations save time. When nonprofit employees focus on goal setting within their weekly conversations with their managers, employers see a rise in job satisfaction and overall efficiency.
Through adaptability, communication, and performance management, employees can feel recognized and heard. And when employees feel heard, they feel like they are making a difference in the nonprofit world and ultimately feel celebrated in their work environments.
Throughout the panel “Employee Appreciation All Year Round,” panelists Jennifer Loftus, Jill Krumholz, and Suzanne Smith provided insights and tips to celebrate employees, ultimately fostering a culture where employees want to work, grow, and ultimately, stay.
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