in Nonprofits, Uncategorized

How to Keep Your Team Engaged

Welcome to the debut of our five part Sparks series focusing on the lifeline of any organization – your employees! Weekly topics include the importance of creating an empowering internal culture, engaging your team, recruiting top talent, effectively managing volunteers and more.

It can be hard work doing good.

Maintaining concentrated dedication to a mission can be a challenge even for the most centered employee.  By keeping employees engaged, you’ll increase their happiness, productivity and performance, making the long journey worth the while.
Here’s how to kick start your team’s engagement:

1. Foster an intentional culture

“By deeply integrating your mission statement into your nonprofit culture, you’ll encourage your staff to have purpose with a passion. Research has found that employees who expressed a higher level of mission attachment were also more likely satisfied, engaged with their work, and intended to remain with an organization.”
Be specific. Employees should know exactly what they are working towards and why. Having a deep understanding of core values and mission allows nonprofit teams to be more efficient and gives employees confidence in decision making. Meet as a team to discuss what your organization stands for and what this looks like in practice. How does it apply to day-to-day work, communication, hiring and team interaction? Post your values on the walls and encourage employees to think and act with intent.
Also keep in mind:

2. Transparency is key

Be open and clear about the organization’s decision making processes, goals and your plans of action. Employees thrive when they understand how their contributions fit into the larger picture.  Encouraging honest and open feedback fosters a more collaborative culture and increases your team’s sense of involvement within the organization. When employees know their ideas are heard and respected, they feel valued. Make time for weekly check-ins between managers and employees, Q&A sessions with leadership and team building activities.

3. It’s all about growth

“Among the many reasons people leave companies, one of the biggest is for lack of opportunity.” Everyone aspires to advance in their career, so create space for growth by providing guidance, training and skills development. Ask managers to sit down with their team to set professional growth goals and brainstorm actionable plans to get there. As Josh Bersin says, “what happens when you give people the opportunity to grow? People stay excited, the business becomes more agile and innovative, and high performers want to stay.”
The best part is, professional development doesn’t need to cost any money! Here are 52 free development opportunities for nonprofit employees and additional ideas for training.
Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge in your organization by having employees lead lunch and learn sessions where they present about an area of expertise. The opportunity to teach colleagues how to become social media advocates, or use excel, or start practicing yoga empower the instructor. At Catchafire, we bring in outside speakers to teach everything from effective storytelling to meditation to increasing our capacity to lead.

4. Adapt to their lifestyle

According to an Accenture report, “regardless of enjoying a compelling mission and exciting work, employees are only able to engage to the extent that they have the ability to do so.” Be aware that the multiple generations in your office may have different values and motivations. Understand what drives each employee and develop a plan to engage them. Integrating work into their existing lifestyle makes for a happier workplace. Here are a few ways to get started:
  1. Boost energy. Ask employees to pay attention to their energy levels. When they are low on energy suggest they go on walking meetings or use standing desk. Additionally, encourage them to participate in wellness activities such as yoga, spinning or jogging. This not only shows you care, but also increases productivity.
  2. Be flexible. Allow people to work in an environment where they are most productive. If this means that some days they need to work from home or a coffee shop, so be it. Flex days are worth a test.
  3. Fun never hurt! Encourage your team to get creative and bring added inspiration into the office. Be open to employee’s ideas to increase overall workplace engagement. At Catchafire we have a “funspiration team” who brings fun into the office by scheduling monthly happy hours, facilitating book clubs, posting inspirational quotes on the wall, planning birthday celebrations or potlucks and getting the team together for early morning yoga sessions.

5. A simple thank you goes a long way

When it comes to disengaged employees, most feel that their contributions are overlooked. Demonstrating gratitude can be an incredible motivator. Employees want to know that their work is valued and is furthering your mission. Be sure to recognize individual employee’s contributions. When someone has done a great job, no matter the scale, a thank you is deserved. This can be as simple as writing a thank you note, sending an email or publicly showing how they made a difference in a team meeting.
Determine what motivates the individual and plan your recognition accordingly as rewarding employees can take many forms. If they don’t respond to public recognition, provide them with admission into an event or conference, a small gift, or credit for Skillshare or General Assembly classes.
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