Create an Exceptional Employee Experience

In recent years, the general workforce has been through a lot. They’ve faced discrimination, income loss, job insecurity, benefits insecurity, as well as a host of other professional, financial and personal problems. So, while it’s true that they’re seeking the best income they can achieve for their skills and talents, there is a lot to be said for offering an exceptional employee experience. What that means will vary by organization, of course, but there are a few basics you could offer that might make the difference in attracting best-fit staff.

Design Nonprofit Work to Enrich Their Lives in Meaningful Ways

While seeking creative ways to entice and engage talent, take some cues from the employee experiences offered by other employers (many of whom are nonprofits or social enterprises). For example, amp up your one-on-one manager-employee meetings—it’s an all-enterprise opportunity. Make it employee-driven with topics including current projects all the way to achievements toward career goals. Here are some ideas to whet your appetite for potential employee experiences:

  • Workshops, seminars, in-house training. Some organizations combine online tutorials for position-specific skill-building with in-person team-building activities.
  • Organizational goal updates. Overall transparency and communication that keeps everyone informed of your nonprofit’s achievements will keep staff engaged.
  • Real-time feedback. If you make feedback a regular part of the program, employees will come to expect notes on performance so they can rapidly adjust to stay on-track with career goals and participation toward organizational achievements.
  • Share gratitude and appreciation. Make note of how everyone contributes and recognize it. And then, celebrate quarterly. Present a list of awards that recognize all your staff has done for the organization and celebrate achievements such as anniversary dates.
  • Paid time off to volunteer. You’ve attracted workers who want to contribute to the greater good. Let them choose a cause, and then let them contribute without losing a paycheck.
  • Cross-training programs. Create a mentoring program and offer a broad-spectrum training program in which everyone has the opportunity to teach and learn something. It could be high-level communication skills, financial lessons or creative ad design.
  • Flexibility and innovative investment. Work-life balance no longer means separating the two. Whether it’s work-from-home or flexible scheduling, find ways to help your staff build bridges between their work and their personal lives. Work-from-home policies do more than provide a positive employee experience — it can prepare your organization for events that require sudden massive adaptation. You may need to invest in appropriate internet access, computer technology, phone systems and more to facilitate success. These will serve your needs now and could one day save your nonprofit.

Hold the Ladder

Prior to the events of 2020, Millennials were expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. While they’ll continue to dominate the workforce for the next few years, you should expect other generations to seek work as they attempt to recoup financial losses and prepare for the future. Millennials, as a demographic, have generally expressed an interest in opportunities to build skills as part of an employment package. According to Gallup, more than half of this demographic rated it as “extremely important” when applying for a job. With many industries recovering — or not — from chaotic fluctuations in the business world, this expectation has only expanded in the workforce. They feel vulnerable. You can assuage their fears.

Imagine being handed a career roadmap — a clear, documented path that shows how you can advance through the company. When you create a customized plan for each employee, you show that you’re willing and happy to invest in that person’s future. This nurturing effort is rare and will build rapport quickly, as workers see that you’re really living up to your promoted employer brand. They will share this with their friends, and word will spread that you’re doing something rare and impressive for your staff members.

Welcome Them to a Spectacular Workspace

From their first day at work, employees need to feel that they’ve found something special. How do you welcome new staff members? Is there a company-wide announcement, even by email? Robust onboarding for new employees will go a long way to ensuring a full commitment to your organization. Sometimes, especially in smaller nonprofits, the crush of work can overwhelm attempts at welcoming and training new-hires. Don’t ignore your responsibility to prepare workers adequately for their jobs. This includes temp-to-perm workers. A strong onboarding program will go a long way to ensuring retention, especially when you pair new-hires with veteran workers as personal and professional mentors.

While ping pong tables have come to seem superfluous to most employees, you still need to have an enjoyable, vibrant workplace. Think of it the way a real estate agent would “stage” a home that’s for sale. Is your workspace cluttered, filled with musty old boxes? Do your walls need a fresh coat of paint? How’s your decor? How does the building interior smell? Are the floors in good shape? Don’t dismiss esthetics. This is where people working in a physical office space will be spending a huge portion of their lives. It doesn’t have to be an amusement park, but it shouldn’t be depressing, either.

Build a Strengths-Based Organizational Culture

Now that you’ve hired a new worker, what are you doing to keep them at your nonprofit? Studies in recent years have shown that roughly half of all employees are actively looking for a new job or tracking openings online. If you’re not actively seeking to engage with your culture, it should be a priority.

According to Gallup, when employees use their personal and professional strengths, they are nearly six times more engaged, perform better at their jobs and are less likely to leave their current job. Consider using the Online Talent Assessment (formerly CliftonStrengths) to begin understanding your best-fit culture. This assessment, alone, can help you identify the hidden futurist in your office, the person most able to build team harmony, or the restorative worker who’s great at diagnosing and solving problems. There are 34 such strengths listed in this assessment, and every one of those skills could be useful to your nonprofit. 25

To really build a strengths-based culture, you’ll need to integrate strengths development throughout your nonprofit—your mission, vision, values and processes as well as your workflow and collaboration—everything should reflect a dedicated effort. So, augment that paycheck with a sense of purpose. Offer a robust menu of staff development. Use strengths assessments and have managers coach as they learn to understand and apply their newly identified strengths. Give ongoing conversational feedback rather than an annual review. Nothing is more impactful in cultivating a sense of belonging than valuing people for their skills and talents.

Be the Talk of the Town, in a Good Way

Remember that today’s workforce members are not shy about reporting publicly if they feel that a company maintains a negative or chaotic employee experience. Sites like Glassdoor provide a platform for such expression, and job seekers do review these reports when deciding on a job offer. Nearly a third of workers have declined a job offer based on negative online reviews. In a study of for-profits, those who invested in improving their employee experiences were nearly 12 times more likely to appear in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work and more than twice as likely to be listed in Forbes’ World’s Most Innovative Companies. The same benefits could take place in your nonprofit. A positive employee experience helps staff feel empowered to do better—increasing buy-in and advocating for you as an employer. When workers are satisfied with their management, their future and their impact toward the mission of your organization, they will be more productive, consistently delivering superior performance and also recommending your organization to their acquaintances.

Encouraging Staff Innovation

Once strengths have been recognized, be sure to recognize and reward innovative thought. To improve on that, make sure your culture allows collaboration across departments for individuals who need to connect with others to draw on their expertise for the benefit of the organization, its culture, and the population it serves. Back up your support with useful technology to really make the ideas fly.

In these interesting times, today’s workforce yearns for the opportunity to contribute their creativity. With the support of HR professionals like you, they will devise solutions that bring us closer to realizing our ideals. Together — drawing from our collective strength — we can achieve the dawn of a new world society that honors Senator Kennedy’s noble dream.

This is an excerpt from UST’s eBook, “5 Ways to Shape a Durable Workplace of Inclusivity, Innovation and Trust” in collaboration with Beth Black, Writer and Editor.

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06/23/23 9:25 AM

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UST maintains a secure site. This means that information we obtain from you in the process of enrolling is protected and cannot be viewed by others. Information about your agency is provided to our various service providers once you enroll in UST for the purpose of providing you with the best possible service. Your information will never be sold or rented to other entities that are not affiliated with UST. Agencies that are actively enrolled in UST are listed for review by other agencies, UST’s sponsors and potential participants, but no information specific to your agency can be reviewed by anyone not affiliated with UST and not otherwise engaged in providing services to you except as required by law or valid legal process.

Your use of this site and the provision of basic information constitute your consent for UST to use the information supplied.

UST may collect generic information about overall website traffic, and use other analytical information and tools to help us improve our website and provide the best possible information and service. As you browse UST’s website, cookies may also be placed on your computer so that we can better understand what information our visitors are most interested in, and to help direct you to other relevant information. These cookies do not collect personal information such as your name, email, postal address or phone number. To opt out of some of these cookies, click here. If you are a Twitter user, and prefer not to have Twitter ad content tailored to you, learn more here.

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