Research has shown that employees with high engagement are more productive and less likely to turnover than their disengaged peers. In addition, companies that make engagement a priority benefit in the long run. According to Gallup, organizations with the highest engagement levels are 22% more profitable than those with low engagement.
But the “I” of ROI might prove a bit tricky for nonprofits with tight budgets. While large companies might invest in an expensive employee recognition program or system, nonprofits often don’t have the cash to burn on such an initiative.
Luckily, boosting employee engagement doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are six drivers of engagement, along with suggestions for how nonprofits — or any type of company — can improve these levers on the cheap.
1. Autonomy: Employees who feel as if they’re free to make their own decisions tend to be more invested in their jobs and happier with their companies. If your organization has a glut of policies that dictate how each and every single task is to be done, consider relaxing some of these rules and letting workers do their jobs they way they’d prefer.
2. Sense of purpose: Millennials in particular want to work at an organization that makes a difference, and this is often why they seek jobs at nonprofits in the first place. Play up the connection between your company’s mission and the daily efforts of staff members. Stress how each and every individual contributes to a greater purpose.
3. Recognition: People crave recognition for their work, and managers should be mindful of this fact. From time to time, leaders should demonstrate appreciation for their employees publicly. Maybe it’s an email to the entire company about how someone went above and beyond. Maybe it’s a bouquet of flowers with a card. Keep in mind that recognition doesn’t have to be expensive — it just has to be genuine.
4. Communication: Confusion is the enemy of employee engagement. Whenever a change in strategy or policy is rolled out, take care to openly communicate the reasons for the shift to the entire work force. Nobody likes to feel like a cog in the machine — keep everyone in the know at all times to boost morale and ownership.
5. Growth: People who feel they’re stuck in a dead-end job mentally check out and merely go through the motions. Ensure that all employees have a clear growth path ahead of them — whether the next step takes the form of a promotion, added responsibility, new learning opportunities, or a chance to branch out into a different area.
6. Personal touch: Work doesn’t have to be all work and no fun. Injecting a personal touch into the day-to-day can do a lot to lift employee’s spirits. Managers and coworkers should be encouraged to share their passions and talk about their activities outside of work.
Low employee engagement carries a cost, but taking steps to improve your workforce’s engagement doesn’t have to be costly. Investing in the right areas means you can turn limited resources into both happier employees and communities.