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. 

Employees want to work for businesses that making a difference in the world. In fact, 90% percent of employees who work at socially-minded companies say they’re more inspired, motivated, and loyal.

By participating in corporate philanthropy and providing employees opportunities to give back themselves, you can boost their engagement while at work. Host employee volunteer days, make contributions to local nonprofits, and start a matching gift program, especially if your employees have already advocated for one

As a nonprofit looking for business sponsorships, emphasize improved employee engagement as a benefit of partnering with an organization like yours. 

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. 

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.