How to Motivate Your Employees in a Changing Charity Landscape

It’s safe to say we’re all going through a bit of a dip at the moment. The weather is grey, the nights are long and the second lockdown has only made things that much harder. With lockdown now ended, everyone’s in desperate need of a mental pick me up—most of all your employees.

The majority of us are probably still working from home, so motivating your team is a slightly different ball game this year. Not only is it harder to gauge where everyone is at, but keeping spirits high as the festive season rolls in is now an entirely online affair.

But don’t worry, there are several ways you can bolster spirits and keep your team engaged. Here are our top tips.

celebrate wins motivate team

1. Always be empathetic

Put empathy first. With everything. If someone is falling behind or coming up short on their work, there’s probably a really good reason for it. Everyone’s situations are vastly different right now. Some of us have come out of 2020 relatively unscathed whilst others have had their whole lives turned upside down.

Be sure to make room for this in your organisations and treat every employee with the patience and understanding that they deserve. If they feel listened to and understood, they’re far more likely to bounce back from their current struggles and give you 100% come the new year.

It’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re WFH at the moment, empathy is hard to convey over Google Teams or Slack. Messages can be misread, and tone can be lost in translation, so take the time to set up personal calls. It shows you care and will go the extra mile.

Even if your employees seem to be getting on fine, it’s important to keep those communication channels open and remind them to reach out if they’re struggling. They might just be looking for an opportunity to speak to their manager, so keep your virtual doors open.

2. Celebrate your wins

Sometimes it’s difficult to see where all your hard work is going—especially if you’re a small cog in a big organisation. Not all charity employees work directly with beneficiaries, meaning they don’t see the immediate and tangible effects of their work. That’s why it’s your job to remind them how important their contribution has been.

Maybe your team has smashed its fundraising target or maybe your organisation has just managed to survive the year. Whatever it is you’ve achieved as a team or organisation, make sure you shout about it from the rooftops so all of your employees can hear. Don’t keep those glowing reviews or statistics to yourself. After all, your employees made that happen and, now more than ever, they need to know that their hard work is paying off.

celebrate your wins motivate your team

3. Put wellbeing first

Wellbeing has become a bit of a buzzword over the last few years, but it’s hard to overstate its importance. A motivated team is a healthy team—both mentally and physically, and more time spent inside hunched over our desks certainly isn’t doing us any favours.

Be sure to monitor the amount of work and pressure you’re putting your employees under and make sure that the workload is spread as evenly as possible.

Encourage your employees to get outside and soak up the last few rays of sunshine before winter truly sets in. You could put aside an hour each afternoon for your team to go on a walk—weather permitting. Or you might have an employee who’s a secret yoga guru and can lead Zoom sessions in the morning. Little crumbs of encouragement can lead to really big changes and staying on top of your employees’ mental and physical wellbeing should be a top priority.

4. Don’t be afraid of a little praise

Celebrating wins in your organisation is the first step, but don’t overlook individual efforts. It’s likely that your employees have worked harder this year than ever before, and many have probably been concerned about their job security. It’s time to thank them for everything they’ve done this year.

Appreciation doesn’t always have to come in the form of lavish gifts and, let’s face it, you probably don’t have the funds for that right now unless you’re working at Amazon.

Recognising hard work can be as simple as writing a letter or email. Make sure that you pinpoint exactly where an employee has shone and try to avoid generic statements. If you manage thousands of employees, you might want to tailor your thanks to individual teams instead. A culture of recognition is the first to a happy and healthy work environment.

Also…you can never go wrong with a box of chocolates.

motivate employees with praise

5. Invest in their personal growth

The recent boom in online learning has made it easier than ever to provide your employees with the opportunity to grow and develop.

Start by asking your staff what they need to progress and help them build a development plan that’s tailored to their needs. They might feel like they need additional digital support, or that they haven’t quite gotten to grips with project management yet. Helping your employees plug gaps in their knowledge and invest in their personal development will allow them to thrive in their role and motivate then to use put their new skills into action.

Digital Charity Lab provide excellent resources for progressive non-profits looking to upskill their workforce whilst Utopy offers a rich catalogue of courses for those looking to upskill and invest in their career development. From managing through change to copywriting, their courses are designed to help those who ‘do good’ have a greater impact.

You could approach training and development slightly more holistically and offer your employees access to personal development opportunities. There is an abundance of cooking courses out there at the moment, like Migrateful who run online cookery sessions led by migrant chefs. You could even book out an event for your whole team and make a day of it!

Remember, Christmas is coming…

Christmas is a bit bittersweet this year. You probably won’t be able to have the extended family round like you normally would or endure a face-to-face boozy work do, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan something special.

Luckily, there’s a way to do digital activities that won’t make all your employees cringe. Places like Office Christmas Party have adapted their offer this year and combine home delivery with an interactive online experience.

If that’s all feels a bit too organised (and expensive), you can float the idea of a takeaway secret Santa. The way it works is that each employee picks a name out of a hat and has to order a surprise takeaway to their house during your virtual party. This one does require a bit of admin on your part, but it’s an inventive and collaborative way to mark the festive season.

It all just comes down to what works best for your particular team. But above all else, don’t neglect the importance of making your staff feel appreciated, especially during the cold winter months. It will go a long way, we promise!

Tags: Covid-19 resources, motivating your team, supporting your team, times of crisis

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About the author

Rosalie Minnitt

Rosalie Minnitt is a freelance writer, comedian and journalist with experience in the arts and charity sector. She has been published in Funny Women and Journo Resources, and was most recently featured on BBC Radio.