Inspired by the millions of couples who will get engaged this Valentine’s Day, we thought we would highlight another engagement that ranks high in importance for our happiness: employee engagement. The modern workforce has shifted power to employees who can apply for new jobs with a simple click. With attrition costing nonprofits at least 20 percent of each employee’s salary in lost productivity, morale and knowledge, keeping our teams energized and invested in our work benefits the social sector and our clients.

Sticking with our Valentine’s theme, we wanted to have a little fun, so here are a couple of limericks to kick-start your brainstorming session on how to engage employees at the highest level. These poems were inspired by the five elements that drive engagement from Deloitte University Press’ Becoming Irresistible: A New Model for Employee Engagement.

It makes total, perfect sense
That staff sees right through pretense.
Dictating from shadows is a “no”
But giving meaning and praise are a “go”
In keeping and lifting their confidence. 

I once had a boss
Who had a not-so-secret sauce.
To keep employees all year round
Coaching and training were always found
On days my thoughts were completely lost. 

And if limericks just aren’t enough, here are five strategies to help keep your employees engaged.

  1. Trust in leadership – Luckily for the social sector, people want to work at organizations with a purpose, but they also want leaders who are transparent and invest in their development. This means that the mission must drive the staff’s work, and leadership must openly share things like when mistakes occur and how decisions are made.
  2. Meaningful work – To keep your team engaged, employees want to know that their work is not in vain, that what they do makes a difference to our clients or communities. They also want to be empowered to decide how they will reach goals while given leeway to think, create and recharge.
  3. Positive work environment – People want flexibility to work individually or in teams as their work demands. They also want to be authentic at work and be recognized by (and give recognition to) their superiors and peers for a job well done.
  4. Hands-on management – Hands-on management does not mean checking in on your team’s every move; it simply means that managers are fully invested in supporting and coaching employees on their paths to achieving their performance goals. It requires providing regular feedback and trying to build jobs around employees’ strengths.
  5. Growth opportunities – Employees, particularly those under 35, want jobs that push them to grow and acquire new skills. This does not necessarily mean they want a promotion every year. Younger employees desire formal and informal professional development, opportunities to try something new and the chance to grow once they’ve mastered certain skills.

Employee Engagement Graphic cropped

click image to enlarge

An engaged workforce has been shown to be 30 percent more innovative and 200 percent more effective than organizations with low engagement. We need teams in the social sector to produce those kinds of results for the communities we serve.

We invite you to show love for your team by sending us your employee engagement poems, be they couplets, haiku or acrostics! The best poem wins a $50 gift card for a staff pizza party. Entries must be submitted by February 18th. For the anti-Valentine’s Day TrendSpotters amongst you, stay tuned next week for our blog on the decline phase of the nonprofit lifecycle.

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