In addition to the fine folks who work in Human Resources (HR), or in the absence of an HR function, everyone who is responsible for managing or supervising employees needs to consider three critical questions from the employee’s perspective. Answers to these questions are key to strengthening employee engagement. Note: Nonprofit managers can also apply these questions to volunteers who serve in their organizations.
- Does my employer care about me and my work?
People need to know that managers recognize and respect their roles within the organization and will support their efforts to do the best job possible.
- What difference do I make?
Employees and volunteers also need to know how their efforts contribute to the organization’s mission and goals. This includes having a clear line-of-sight as to how their work impacts customers or clients, co-workers, stakeholders, the community where the organization is located, and the organization’s overall success. (Think of the NASA janitor who wasn’t just cleaning floors — he was helping to put a man on the moon.)
- What’s in it for me?
Addressing this question gets to the heart of why an employee’s work matters and why s/he should stay with the organization. Considerations include the meaning and purpose of the work involved, the quality of the workplace culture (how employee- and customer-focused it is), and basic benefits,
How do you learn the answers to these questions?
A variety of listening posts are available in most organizations, including (but not limited to): employee engagement or satisfaction surveys … exit surveys … management by wandering around (MBWA) … everyday conversations with employees … and “engaging conversations – open-ended, non-judgmental conversations with each employee about passions, aspirations and opportunities.”
Ask first, then listen for understanding.