3 Ways to Engage Your Nonprofit's Employees
It’s not uncommon nowadays for workers who aren’t up-to-date on the latest technological skills to lose their jobs. A new advancement in technology may improve day-to-day life, but it means some people will suffer professionally.
This is why, over the next five years, Google will invest $1 billion in nonprofit organizations, according to USA Today.
The goal is to help people adjust to the changing nature of work without putting them in severe debt. They earmarked $10 million—the largest philanthropic pledge from the Internet giant—for a work education program with Goodwill.
This is one of the few positive news stories for nonprofits lately. With less funding, nonprofits are struggling and it’s negatively impacting employees.
Research from my company, Quantum Workplace, found that only 56.7 percent of nonprofit employees are engaged. Comparatively, 70.8 percent of private sector employees are engaged. This low level of engagement is something nonprofits have struggled to overcome since a drastic drop in 2015.
With the exception of partnerships with big companies like Google, nonprofits have little funds to invest in employee engagement. This means they need to find other ways to motivate their staff.
Here are three ways to engage nonprofit employees when times are tough:
1. Let’s Get Real
If you search for news about nonprofits, you’ll see every state is struggling with budgets. This makes creating a motivational and productive work environment more difficult—especially because your team has read the same disheartening news.
Yet, they don’t fully understand how budget cuts will affect their job and the company's future; this is why it’s important to be honest with employees. If there are holes in their knowledge, they will assume the worst and begin disengaging. Even if your company is fine, you may end up losing great employees.
Instead of hiding news from your employees, be transparent about what’s going on. Let the team know what challenges the organization is facing. You might be surprised to find out that they have solutions. Even if things are rough, employees will feel a greater connection to the company when they have all the information and the chance to influence change.
2. Smash the Rumor Wheel
When in doubt, employees talk. They imagine the worst and share their theories with each other. This can quickly kill employee engagement. Employees don't always tell leaders what they’re afraid of, so the best thing nonprofit organizations can do is conduct confidential surveys.
By getting feedback about employees’ fears, organizations know what rumors are flying around. This allows leaders to address mistruths before they cause employees to leave.
These surveys will also alert you to engagement threats you haven’t considered.
As a leader, you have a different perspective on the company than employees. This can blind you to what’s actually going on. By conducting engagement surveys, you not only find out what’s worrying employees, but also discover new solutions. This will make employees feel more valuable and integral to the organization.
3. Bring Your Team Together
Out of the 30 engagement factors our survey looked at, nonprofits were outscored in every item except one: “I find my job interesting and challenging.”
Understandably, most nonprofit employees enjoy the work they do. After all, they don’t get involved with a nonprofit company for the money and glory. But a love for what you do can only go so far. As a result, many nonprofit employees are not highly engaged and may be thinking about their next career move.
Keep employees united so they stay dedicated to the company’s future. If they’re invested in the team and its mission, they’ll be less likely to jump ship.
One way to do this is to focus on employee development instead of organizational growth. If the company has stalled, employees can learn together through webinars and training material. This will show people that even when times are tough, the company is still willing to invest in employees and their future.
Nonprofit employees do great work, but that doesn’t mean they always feel secure in their position. By following these tips, nonprofit organizations can help ensure they don’t lose great talent during difficult times.
Dan Harris is a Workplace Insights Analyst at Quantum Workplace, a company dedicated to providing every organization with quality engagement tools that guide their next step in making work better every day.