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January 26, 2023

5 Tips to Help Your Nonprofit Employees Succeed in 2023

Hanna Middleton

The road ahead to achieve 2023 fundraising goals is likely on the minds of nonprofit employees as they settle back into the office this New Year. Before your employees fall back into the routine, check-in and ensure that your processes, people, and technology are in the best position possible to help your nonprofit succeed in 2023.

Factors Impacting the Nonprofit Workforce

This year continues to bring a tighter labor supply and costly top-talent recruitment. Likewise, rising inflation costs and the uncertainty of a recession are on the minds of employers and employees. As a nonprofit, you see the impact of economic changes first-hand. You may have growing demands from your community programs and more reserved giving from some donors. It is important to recognize that employees may have increased stress or may be preoccupied with their own financial well-being during this time.

Whether your nonprofit organization has a staff of 5 or 500, it is critical to look at employees holistically to ensure their role fits their capabilities and well-being. Too often, nonprofit employees incur self-inflicted burnout. Their commitment and passion for the cause may lead them to give more hours beyond their full-time responsibilities.

Participants in a Georgia State University study explain that, “humanitarian aid leaders were 'aware of the skill set of employees, and can appropriately task them without overburdening them.’” Taking the time to understand each employee holistically using the 5 tips below can support employee engagement, improve employee morale, and boost your nonprofit employees’ success in 2023.

1. Clearly Define Employee Roles and Responsibilities

We hear from our nonprofit customers that employees wear numerous hats, and some oversee an entire department solo. In these situations, it is far too easy for an employee to take on work outside of their role simply because there is no one else on the team available to do it.

Employees who oversee many department duties oftentimes have role ambiguity. This means that employees have a degree of uncertainty regarding the objectives of their position that affects the understanding of their expected role. Setting clear, well-defined, and written boundaries of employee responsibilities helps your team to release work that is not theirs to carry.

Reduce Workloads Where Possible by Outsourcing

Now you may be wondering, if employees have a task that needs to be completed, but it does not fit into their job description, who will take on that work? Yes, we recognize that at the end of the day, some tasks need attention, regardless of who’s responsible for them. We’d recommend outsourcing work to your volunteers with specialized talents or considering enlisting the help of professional nonprofit consulting services. Does your team need help with data conversions, pledge processing, or managed IT services? Recruiting knowledgeable experts, like those at Andar Software, will reduce or even eliminate workload tasks for your internal teams.  

Evaluate Work-Life Balance

Next, consider employee work-life balance. When defining employee responsibilities, we often overlook how critical it is to define dedicated working hours. A full-time employee can easily add an hour extra a day finalizing tasks without giving much thought to it. This behavior can be easy for employees who work from home where the boundaries of home and work-life blur.

Establishing clear working hours – whether flexible or fixed – can help set the boundaries where work ends, and life begins. Similarly, consider adding a policy where employees cannot send messages or emails during nonworking hours. Benefits of implementing work-life balance include promotion of productivity, reduced turnover, and improvements to employees’ mental and physical health.

2. Evaluate the Tools and Programs Used by Each Team Member

Day-in and day-out each employee has a handful of online or digital tools that help them get the job done. Do your employees use the Microsoft Office Suite, volunteer management software, fundraising software, QuickBooks for nonprofits, donor management software, or a robust nonprofit CRM? Now is a good time to see if there are any additional software or tools that will help improve efficiencies.

Here is a quick checklist of questions you can use to assess your nonprofit technology:

  • Do the tools I have enhance or add friction to my workflows?
  • Is the software being used by all team members who could benefit from it?
  • Are there any employees who would feel more confident with their tools if they enrolled in software training?
  • Am I able to quickly find and view meaningful information?
  • Does the tool provide the level of reporting required by our senior leaders or our Board of Directors?
  • What nonprofit tools or software could our team benefit from in 2023?

Based on your discussions with employees and answering the self-assessment questions you should have a clear understanding of your nonprofit’s technology for 2023.

3. Emphasize Skill Training and Personal Development

McKinsey research shows that employees are better able to improve workplace connections in the long run when they receive coaching and training. Ask your long-term employees if they’d like to be a mentor or coach. Your nonprofit talent can help shape employees who are new to their role or new to your nonprofit organization. Check out these successful mentorship program examples to help you shape a mentorship program.  

Employee Technology Skill Development

Next, ask employees what skills they’d like to develop in 2023. Do they want to become more proficient in donor data analysis? How about finding ways to improve marketing automation? Is there an area in your nonprofit software that an employee should learn? These role-based skill development goal should be documented in a scorecard. Use these scorecards in your annual performance reviews.

Until then, be sure to provide employees with any training resources they’ll need to succeed in their goals. Reach out to your nonprofit software vendor for additional training for one or more employees. Group training and e-classes can be a cost-effective way to enhance your teams’ skills. Connect employees with online learning resources, virtual coaches, or consultants. Take the time now to set your employees up for skill development success in the year to come.  

4. Recognize and Address Employee Wellbeing

Studies find that nearly half of the surveyed employees (48%) said their wellbeing declined in 2022. Now is a critical time for nonprofit organizations to find ways to improve employee resiliency and wellness in 2023.

Declining employee wellness

The same study references Gallup data which found that 60% of employees are emotionally detached from work. Given that nonprofit organizations benefit from employee emotional attachment to their cause, this data is a wake-up call. To combat emotional detachment from work, start the year off with a word from your leaders that emphasizes how day-to-day work helps reach your mission. Give purpose to employees’ work.

Nonprofit Employee Stress and Burnout

A study that looked at nonprofit workforce shortages found that employees identified themselves as being stressed or burnout while covering for vacant positions. To counter this, consider following suit of the many for-profit organizations that have introduced well-being policies. If you have the funds, consider adding mental and emotional health allowances to employee benefits.

If you can’t invest in benefits, consider a training program that helps team leaders identify and appropriately respond to their colleagues’ mental health concerns. Being able to recognize signs of burnout, stress, or fatigue can help identify if workloads need to be adjusted. Also, see if work accommodations need to be made, or if a break of absence would be beneficial. Taking the first steps to addressing employee well-being demonstrates care for one of your greatest assets – your employees. In the long run, addressing employee’s well-being early on can improve employee engagement and reduce turnover.

As Jamie Aten, a nonprofit Executive Director explains,

“to lead well, you can’t rely on overworked employees to identify their needs and implement their own self-care practices. Rather, as a leader, it is important that you play an active role in helping create a positive work environment that prioritizes team well-being. When you do, everyone wins.”

5. Clear Workplace Communication and Better Social Connections

As you’ve read, most of the tips on this list require nonprofit leaders to ask employees about their workplace experiences. This is a great example of improving communication with employees. Take the time to have discussions that center around improving employees’ experience at work.

When staff has meaningful connections, they are 1.5 times more likely to be engaged at work. Find ways to increase social interactions such as a happy hour on Fridays, or a Monday morning group meditation session. It is especially important for frontline and middle managers to have meaningful work relationships. Remember, employers with more social capital are likely to have lower turnover, show improvements in team and individual performance, and they are more innovative.

Employees Access to Social Capital Varies by Job Title

Need a Hand This Year? We’re Here to Help

Whether you’re feeling inspired to enhance your employees' Andar/360 proficiency, or need additional nonprofit digital tools and software, our team is here to help. Contact us and we will find the right service for you.

Blog Article by Hanna Middleton, Marketing Manager, Andar Software