Nonprofit leaders know how important employees are to their organizations, but how many intentionally build people-centred cultures?
Investing in your staff is vital in any workplace, and leaders should be creating opportunities to make their employees feel appreciated. Feeling passionate about a cause is not enough to keep employees motivated. They need to feel connected to your organization’s values. In a recent study, 42% of nonprofits predict an increase in staff turnover in the next year.
Developing a company culture leads to a stronger sense of community and can transform the way you work. According to Inc.com, culture-driven organizations "experience 26 percent fewer mistakes, 22 percent higher productivity and 41 percent lower absenteeism.” Proving that putting people first benefits everyone, it’s crucial to find ways to implement people-first practices into your organization.
What is a People-First Culture?
People-first culture is a practice that values people over profits. When employees feel valued as individuals, it provides an opportunity for more innovative ideas, higher levels of resilience, deeper connections and potentially more funds raised. Happier employees feel a deeper connection to the organization they work for and often work harder and smarter to reach their goals.
Become An Empathetic Listener
You can’t fix problems you don’t know about, so regularly schedule time to speak with your team. Get to know your employees and understand what brought them to the organization in the first place. What is their goal, and how can you help them feel confident in their position?
Taking a genuine interest in your staff is the first step to taking meaningful action. Good leadership is about connecting and inspiring those around you by demonstrating that you value their thoughts, perspectives, insights and feelings. Consider scheduling out one-on-one time with your employees or having an open-door policy that encourages staff to come to you with any ideas, concerns or questions.
Focus On Collaboration
We recently spoke with Kristen Tippit on influential leadership, and she emphasized that the face of leadership is changing. It’s no longer focused on one person making decisions for a team but encouraging collaboration to find solutions and come up with new ideas.
Kristen explains that "...at the core of everyone's being, all we really want is to be seen and heard by others around us, right, both in our personal lives or professional lives. And so, in terms of leadership, it's about showing up for the people you're working with, partnering with, collaborating with or supervising. However, that looks for you.”
Staff who are valued for their contributions feel more engaged and empowered. Create equal opportunities for people to share their ideas or support the development of new skills within your organization. This helps your team become leaders in their roles.
Set Realistic Expectations
Burnout is a big problem in the nonprofit industry. Many employees feel overworked and underpaid resulting in a lot of stress from measuring up to unrealistic expectations. It's unfair to expect people to thrive when they feel they can't do enough in the day to keep up with their tasks.
Make sure you understand the processes that need to be done to achieve your team's performance goals and provide them with the support and tools to complete tasks successfully. Take time to go over your goals and communicate why they are important to your strategy. Understanding the "why” behind projects will help keep your team motivated and focused on the bigger picture.
In Conclusion: The Workplace is Changing
Candidates know what they want from their employers and are no longer willing to work in environments that don’t meet their expectations. People are looking for positions that suit their skill set and find employers who are ready to create a positive culture for their employees to flourish.
Now is the time to take action and figure out what values you want to uphold not only as a nonprofit but also as an employer, and that starts with building a people-first culture in your organization.