Seven Tactics to Beat Flagging Morale
Staff turnover remains a hot-button topic in nonprofit circles. Stretched resources coupled with seemingly constantly growing workloads can be a potent recipe for stress, burn-out and departures. As a nonprofit leader, you have a lot of power to make your staff feel more appreciated and confident, and less stressed.
What is your best tactic? Remember that the people drawn to nonprofit work are motivated by more than a paycheck. (This probably is true for you too, right?) It is likely your team knows they could command higher pay elsewhere, but they are intrinsically motivated by your organization’s mission or cause.
Find new ways to trip these strong motivation triggers to help get them through trying times and heavy workloads. You might even be able to turn a tough time into a powerful bonding experience. Here are some basics to keep in mind to thwart departures and their common precursor, low morale:
* Recognize tough times. Be honest about your organizational challenges and what it will take to overcome them. Let employees know you recognize that it might not be an easy road but that there are options and solutions you can work towards together.
* Solicit staff input and ideas. Often the best innovations come from those who do a task every day. Ask for employee recommendations and solution ideas. Personal participation in finding the solution can help boost morale. When a team has ownership for their assignments and responsibilities, they are more invested in seeing their ideas and tactics produce results.
* Make tough choices. It is discouraging when everything is critical and every task is a priority. Ease your employees’ stress level by making tough prioritization calls and letting workers know which jobs can wait while high-priority projects are completed.
* Acknowledge contributions. Resources might be scarce, but praise does not cost a thing. Spotlight specific examples of hard work, long hours and “above the call of duty” behavior. Give direct praise to those who deserve it. Use a formal recognition program as well, or start one if your organization does not already have a program in place. Continue this process when you are out of crisis mode. Genuine acknowledgement and appreciation can fuel loyalty, and recognition is a great antidote to resentment.