According to a recent Gallup study, a mere 30 percent of the workforce is engaged. So if 30 percent of employees are engaged, 70 percent are disengaged. Additional research by Gallup reveals that engaged workers are the most innovative.
As if motivating employees weren’t enough of a challenge, today’s workforce dynamics are more complex than ever before. Five generations are represented in most organizations, with Baby Boomers and Millennials comprising the two largest in number. Many Boomers have delayed their retirements because they cannot afford to stop working or because they prefer to work. These difficult decisions affect their career goals and the organization’s succession planning goals, too. And Millennials as a whole have introduced additional nuances to the world of work, including a desire for greater work-life balance and flexibility, technology savvy, and a more collaborative work style.
How can you engage employees who have very personal and unique motivation factors? How do you communicate your organization’s vision effectively and gain buy-in from such a diverse workforce? And how can you do it all on your trim nonprofit budget?
As you may know too well, if you don’t engage them, you won’t keep them. Employee retention is another challenge leaders are dealing with today, especially as younger generations of employees are more inclined to move on from an organization after only several years on the job, in search of more challenging or meaningful work. Here are some practical strategies you can use to incentivize the employees in your agency, without the use of financial rewards.
Ask employees what motivates them.
First, it’s vital to treat each employee in your organization as an individual, not merely one of the masses. Ask each person in your organization how he works best, what workplace benefits he values most, and what his career goals are. When employees feel that they are seen and heard as unique individuals, they will feel valued, and in turn, more engaged and loyal.
Focus on engagement from day one.
It’s important to engage staff on their first day of employment. Ensure the onboarding process incorporates a purposeful engagement plan, along with basic training and other introductory activities. For example, create clear goals for the first 90 days of employment – what you want employee to learn and accomplish during that time. Share information about key people employees will be working with, including how those people fit into the broader organizational structure. A new hire who understands how her job impacts the organization will gain greater buy-in right off of the bat.
Communicate career pathing.
Ensure all employees are aware of the opportunities available to them to grow their careers within your agency. If employees voice interest in a particular open position or next rung on their career ladder, work with them to build steps toward specific career goals. It’s more cost effective to retain engaged employees than to train new ones, so keep your staff growing and moving internally.
Build ongoing performance feedback into the annual review process.
The annual performance appraisal process is antiquated, and many organizations are developing new informal feedback practices within the formal scorecard review. An ongoing, consistent exchange of information between supervisors and employees is necessary to not only ensure employees are on track to meet their goals, but to keep them engaged in their personal performance and aware of how such performance affects the organization.
Develop mentorship opportunities.
Offer an open program where employees can apply to be mentors and/or mentees based on the skills or abilities they can impart and the knowledge they wish to gain. Then match employees based on these needs. Mentoring relationships can be traditional (older worker teaching a younger employee), reverse (younger employee teaching an older one), or group (small pods of employees who want to learn various skills from each other).
Champion learning and development.
Engaged employees like to learn. Offer opportunities for staff to develop their knowledge and skills. Allow employees to identify which strengths they’d like to optimize and which areas for growth they’d like to improve. Enroll them in professional education and offsite conference opportunities, even if your organization can only afford one a year. Above all else, involve employees in their own learning and development plan from their first day on the job.
Engaged employees feel that their jobs are meaningful, allow them autonomy, ensure growth, provide an opportunity to impact the organization’s goals, and connect them to the organization’s mission. Use these metrics to complete a pulse check for your organization. Are your employees engaged?
***Looking to network with nonprofit leaders here in our area? Don’t forget to check out the Nonprofit Capacity Conference coming up this next week. Click here to learn more about growing your nonprofit by focusing on capacity building.