Employee engagement is an essential nonprofit basic.

Nonprofit Basics: Employee Engagement

Engaged employees are motivated to work, easy to get along with, more likely to stay with the company, and happy to speak well of their employer to friends and family. For nonprofits, engaging your employees and volunteers will make your organization more efficient and a better place to work. 

Additionally, nonprofits can also appeal to for-profit organizations by emphasizing how employee engagement can be improved through corporate philanthropy. To pitch your organization to these businesses, your team will need to have a strong understanding of what employee engagement is and how it impacts both the for- and nonprofit worlds. 

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is how mentally and emotionally connected employees feel with their work. Engaged employees feel a personal investment in completing their day-to-day responsibilities and actively seek to help their organization succeed. 

What are examples of employee engagement?

Employee engagement will look different at different organizations, depending on the industry, size, workplace culture, and engagement opportunities. However, a few common types of employee engagement across workplaces include:

  • Participation in work-related events
  • Open socialization and camaraderie with co-workers
  • Interest in additional opportunities outside of daily responsibilities
  • Promotion of your organization to friends and family outside of work hours
  • Consistent attendance, performance, and positive attitude 

Employees will show their engagement in various ways based on their personality, interests, and role. For example, more introverted employees working on tasks they can complete independently may not be as social as team members on collaborative projects, but they can still show their engagement by meeting a high performance standard and actively seeking out growth opportunities for their role. 

How can I improve employee engagement?

While employee engagement looks different for everyone, you can boost employee engagement throughout your company with the following tips:

Create an employee satisfaction program.

You can measure how engaged your employees currently are, what is impacting their engagement, and take action to increase their engagement with an employee satisfaction program. 

Employee satisfaction programs primarily rely on information collected from your employees. Surveys are an easy way to centralize all of your workplace feedback. Send out surveys to your employees following key moments in their work at your organization. For example, you might survey new employees who just completed onboarding to understand what materials were helpful for their training and what parts of the process were confusing. Or, you may send out a general survey at the beginning of the year asking employees what types of events they participated in or would look forward to joining in the future. 

Negative surveys can often be even more helpful than positive ones if your organization has a closed feedback loop system in place. The closed feedback loop process follows these steps:

A closed feedback loop can be used to help manage and improve employee engagement.

  • Employee provides feedback. Survey your employees on a semi-frequent basis to ensure you’re receiving a reliable stream of feedback without overwhelming your staff with surveys. Try surveying random samplings of employees at various intervals to ensure no one employee is over-surveyed. 
  • Technology alerts manager if immediate follow-up is needed. Employee satisfaction tools can analyze a survey’s content and elevate it to manager if the feedback is negative. For example, your survey might ask employees to rate their overall satisfaction out of 10 and any surveys with a six or below are automatically elevated. 
  • Manager takes action. Upon receiving a survey, a manager will evaluate it and get in touch with the employee who submitted it to address their concerns. 
  • Causes of problem are identified. After collecting multiple surveys, analyze their contents to find common trends that could be a sign of persistent problems that impact multiple employees. 
  • Organization fixes underlying factors that caused the problem. Consult with employees and management to understand why issues are occurring and create a system that addresses these concerns. 

The cycle then repeats the next time an employee provides feedback. By continuing to act when concerns are raised, you can improve immediate employee engagement and identify and resolve root causes of problems. 

Explore corporate philanthropy. 

Today’s employees want to work for organizations that make a difference in the world. Research shows that 71% of employees expect their employers to support charitable giving and volunteering. Plus, 90% of staff members at socially-minded companies say they’re more inspired, motivated, and loyal.

By participating in corporate philanthropy and providing employees with opportunities to give back, you can boost their engagement and create a workplace culture of generosity. Here are some ideas for getting staff members involved in your company’s philanthropic efforts:

  • Start a matching gift program in which your company financially matches staff donations to eligible nonprofits.
  • Launch internal employee giving campaigns such as team fundraising challenges, in-kind donation drives, and 24-hour giving day initiatives.
  • Promote volunteerism through volunteer grant programs, company-wide volunteer outings, or paid volunteer time off.

Keep track of employee participation in philanthropic activities by leveraging a corporate giving solution. Collecting, storing, and analyzing data on your programs in a streamlined manner will help you determine how engaged your employees are in corporate philanthropy and improve your strategy going forward.

Provide growth opportunities.

Employees will feel more motivated to work if they feel they are advancing professionally. After all, it’s easy to stay engaged when the work is engaging, rewarding, and challenging. 

Have managers meet with their direct reports to discuss the future of their careers and gather ideas about how their roles can be expanded. Then, give employees the opportunity to move into higher roles by allowing them to take on new responsibilities, attend professional courses, or sit in on meetings for positions they’re considering moving into. 

Recognize employees.

Positive reinforcement has been proven to boost morale, motivation, and overall job satisfaction, leading to increased productivity and reduced turnover rates. In fact, 37% of employees report that the best way to improve their engagement is for their superiors to give them recognition.

Here are several ways to recognize employees for their hard work and dedication to your business:

  • Verbal recognition: One way to recognize employee achievements is through verbal recognition. This can be as simple as saying “thank you” or acknowledging their efforts during team meetings or one-on-one conversations.
  • Awards and incentives: Hand out certificates, trophies, or plaques for outstanding performance or milestones. Incentives like bonuses, gift cards, or additional time off can also be used to recognize exceptional work. These rewards not only show appreciation but also provide motivation for employees to continue performing at a high level.
  • Personalized eCards: eCards are a convenient and cost-effective way to recognize employees. With easy-to-use solutions like eCardWidget, you can create and send personalized messages in minutes. The software will also provide a digital record of recognition, making it easy to track and reference employee achievements.
  • Public celebrations: Organize celebrations, such as employee of the month/year ceremonies, team outings, and social events. When employees are recognized in a public setting, other team members will likely take notice and feel inspired to put in the same effort.

It’s important to tailor recognition efforts to the specific needs and preferences of your workforce, as what works for one employee may not work for another. Regularly evaluate and adjust recognition strategies based on employee feedback to ensure they are effective at engaging and motivating employees.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

Top Corporate Giving Software to Drive Employee Engagement – Get more information on corporate giving tools and how they can directly improve employee engagement. 

Getting Employees to Care: Employee Engagement and Culture – Explore how employee engagement, workplace culture, and motivation are tied together and can be improved by making strategic changes at your organization.