How To Keep Staff Happy in Non-Profit Organizations

staff morale
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A happy workforce can mean the difference between a thriving business and an unsuccessful one. Wise leaders understand this and strive to make their employees feel valued, appreciated, and fulfilled. However, it’s not always easy to keep staff morale high. It can be overwhelming when balancing multiple priorities, staffing shortages, lack of project funding, and other challenges related to running a non-profit organization.

Fortunately, there are several simple ways to put a smile back on your team members’ faces, as outlined below.

Encourage Positivity

It’s easy to focus on negative feedback regarding employee engagement, but there’s another side-the positive.

Positive emotions build resilience against stress and physical illness. It’s not a coincidence that some of your most productive staff are also the happiest.

Happy people have more energy, less absenteeism, more creativity, and higher levels of innovation.

Encourage positivity by reminding your employees about the big picture; why their work matters. Share stories of how their contribution has helped change someone’s life. Point them to articles or videos that illustrate the positive impact of their work.

Remember to regularly check in with them, both in person and remotely. Offer yourself as a sounding board and use these conversations to brainstorm ways you can support each other.

Open Door Policy

One of the simplest ways to keep employees happy is to let them know that their voice counts. Provide a private, safe space for them to air their concerns, and don’t retaliate if you disagree.

When staff feels like they’re being listened to, it creates a sense of trust and rapport. It encourages them to keep coming forward with ideas, concerns, and suggestions.

Management’s responsibility is to listen, acknowledge and act on the employee’s perspective. Involving and listening to your staff gives them a sense of empowerment, motivating them to contribute more to the organization.

Don’t just provide a forum. Make sure to promptly respond to the employee’s idea or concern and follow up with them on your progress. It demonstrates that you’re paying attention to the issue and aren’t dismissing their ideas.

Recognize Efforts to increase staff morale

In any profession, a pat on the back goes a long way. Research indicates that employee recognition leads to an increase in productivity and better retention rates.

Showing appreciation makes your employees feel valued, which boosts self-esteem and helps create a fulfilling work experience.

The good news is that it doesn’t take much to be acknowledged; a simple thank you, handwritten note, gift card, or thoughtful gesture will suffice. Do it in front of other staff members so they see the benefits of going above and beyond.

Importantly, encourage peer recognition. A colleague receiving praise from their peer group builds a connection and increases happiness within the team. They feel valued, seen, and heard, which improves job satisfaction.

Invest in Professional Development

Employees are your most valuable resource; without them, your non-profit organization would cease to exist. Investing in their personal growth and development should be a priority.

Offer them opportunities to attend seminars, workshops, and conferences relevant to their role and your organization’s mission. The training sessions allow them to broaden their knowledge and skill set, increasing their value to your organization.

Encourage them to share their learning with their co-workers to foster collaboration and cross-departmental knowledge. It also provides a sense of accomplishment which translates into increased motivation and commitment to the organization.

You can even make this a part of the employee’s performance review. For example, ask them to list a few goals they hope to achieve in the next few months and provide examples of how your company can assist.

This keeps your staff engaged in the company and shows them you’re invested in their professional and personal growth.

Avoid Micromanaging

Micromanagement may seem like the quickest way to solve problems, but it leads to low performance and morale.

Micromanaged employees become disengaged because they lose autonomy. Instead, delegate tasks and responsibilities to your employees and empower them to make decisions. Delegation demonstrates trust and respect and fosters an environment where employees are willing to go the extra mile.

Give your employees the tools and resources they need to succeed. Ensure they understand their needs, provide opportunities for growth and promotion, and set realistic timelines.

Encourage a Good Work/Life Balance

With today’s technology and an always-on culture, many organizations have lost sight of the importance of the work/life balance. They’ve created a culture where workers burn out and end up quitting.

Employees want to feel that their time is as valuable as their work time.

Offer flexible hours and work-from-home options and allow the staff to set their schedule. Encourage this balance with work-life integration policies such as paid parental leave, onsite childcare/eldercare, and paid family leave.

However, set clear boundaries and guidelines to avoid confusion and frustration. For example, inform employees about the best times to contact you, what to do if they need to work late, and the appropriate level of communication on the weekends.

The more they feel valued, respected, and supported, the more they’ll be committed to their work.

Promote From Within

Promoting from within builds loyalty among existing team members and eliminates costly external recruitment efforts.

Consider mentoring new hires so they can get accustomed to the values and culture of the company before giving them more responsibility.

Create a formalized succession plan for key positions so you can groom new leaders internally. Integrate HCM and ERP systems to track critical metrics such as turnover rates, absenteeism, and productivity levels.

Implement an HCM system for talent acquisition and retention strategies to attract top talent that fits the company’s culture. This system will ensure that you hire individuals who are already committed to your mission statement and are passionate about your cause.

Communicate Clearly and Openly

Open communication and transparency with your employees are critical whether you’re a small start-up or a large non-profit organization.

As the manager, you’ll foster a culture of trust and reduce the time spent resolving workplace conflicts. It’s a two-way street; the more you’re willing to open up, the more they will.

Keep your employees in the loop with regular updates on any changes to policies or protocols, training programs, and general organizational objectives. Establish a two-way dialogue and ensure everyone understands the company’s vision and values.

Make it clear that their opinion is valued, and they’re encouraged to give constructive feedback.

When you’re transparent and consistent, employees feel more secure in their work. They’ll also be more inclined to bring up any concerns.

Have Fun

The adage “work hard, play hard” may sound goofy, but it’s true. Encouraging your employees to pursue their passions helps them stay balanced and alleviate stress, among other benefits.

Find ways to integrate fun and play time into your employees’ schedules. Whether it’s a regular happy hour or a once-a-month pizza party, they’ll appreciate the break and enjoy coming to work more.

It promotes bonding and camaraderie, which leads to more effective teamwork and greater employee satisfaction.

Consider an annual retreat or a monthly day off to commemorate birthdays, anniversaries, and accomplishments. Create a culture of celebration, and they’ll never feel like they’re working for a “non-profit organization.”

However, this doesn’t mean endless office parties and unlimited breaks. Instead, strike a balance between work and play to avoid a culture of laziness and complacency.

Closing Thoughts

The key to keeping employees happy is to demonstrate that their work matters. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to run a non-profit organization where the staff morale is high. However, it’s doable with proper employee engagement and motivation.

Author Bio 

Melissa is a community outreach manager at Criterion. She is passionate about workforce management and leadership development. Melissa loves to play tennis and spend time with family and friends outside of work.

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