For many that work in social service organizations, the holiday season is the time of greatest need for their clients. It can also be the most critical time for fundraising and marketing/communications teams who are working to drive year end engagement and donations. Instead of coming to a more relaxed pace full of gratitude and cheer, many employees of nonprofits are working around the clock. With the start of the year, or when your busy season comes to an end, we recommend showing some employee appreciation. Here are a few ideas to do so within a nonprofit’s budget:
- Let employees sleep in or leave a bit early. How many times have you dragged yourself out of bed only to wish that you could sleep a little longer or linger at home over a cup of tea instead of having to hustle to work? Or how many times have you thought about trying to get to the dry cleaner but missed it before it closed with all the traffic from leaving work? Sometimes, the easiest way to say thanks to employees is to let them know they can take some time for themselves. Part of this gesture is that you actually let your employees leave everything behind. This is no longer a gift when employees return to endless internal messages and deadline status updates. Gift them time and respect it.
- Bring resources in house. Whether that is a special snack every week for a month or even a massage therapist, consider bringing in something that is out of the ordinary, a bit special, and makes a public display of saying thank you. Call a few restaurants and ask if they would offer a discount or go out of their way to make a special themed dessert. Or try a massage school and ask if they would bring their students to your offices for a day. You’ll be surprised to see how many companies want to do something good for a nonprofit, they just need someone to make the case for them, provide an easy idea, and be sensitive to the company’s philanthropic budget.
- Give up your premier parking spot for a month. This can be done as a raffle, as ‘employee of the month’ style, or recognizing someone that has made a special contribution. If you don’t have special parking as an executive, think about what other perks you have access to that most of your staff doesn’t. Perhaps it’s lunching at a private club that you typically reserve for major donors. Perhaps it’s just access to private office space in the world of cubicles.
- Make noise. Perhaps the simplest and most inexpensive way to show employee appreciation is by making a vocal fuss. One CEO rang a gong any time a department met a goal from the organization’s strategic plan. It served to make that department’s team members feel good to be recognized and created some friendly competition amongst other departments. Other executives make a point of acknowledging behaviors they want to encourage at the opening of every staff meeting, on a wall in the office or in the internal newsletter.
Has your company done anything that made you feel extra special? Or are you a nonprofit executive with an idea that could help others? Share with us @StarfishMarta.
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