The Care and Feeding of Your Team: Staff Appreciation

Recently, my team gathered round the table to think collectively about what topics would be of interest to you, our nonprofit colleague during this end of year push. And both because it’s the time of year we think a lot about gratitude, AND because it’s something we never quite do (or get) enough of, we decided to talk about appreciation.  Therefore, it’s exciting to be launching a December blog series focused on the “care and feeding” of your team.

Let’s face it – nonprofits don’t pay the same as the corporate sector, and so showing your employees that you value and appreciate their hard work is extremely important, especially since we can’t do it with large cash bonuses! And generally, we don’t thank our donors and volunteers anywhere near the amount we should.  So…this series will cover three areas:  1) staff appreciation, 2) volunteer appreciation, and 3) donor appreciation.

For you managers out there – tune in, because we have some great tips for showing gratitude and recognizing hard work. This week is all about staff appreciation.

I hope that you don’t wait until the winter holidays to think about expressing gratitude to your team. A secret Santa activity does not count as your annual dose of staff appreciation! It’s time to consider developing means by which to express your appreciation for hard working individuals and teams throughout the year. Let’s categorize these opportunities in three ways:

  1. Food/Stuff: Ok, it’s true. We all like gifts, free food and (most of us like) chocolate. So providing lunch/breakfast for the team after a challenging event or successfully executed project is a great way to say thanks! And you can probably find it in your budget to do this more than once per year. We also like stuff. So, small gifts that don’t break the bank are nice too – think t-shirts, mugs (filled with something like chocolate) and other low cost swag. If someone on your team really goes above and beyond on a project, or is working countless hours, think about rewarding them with a spa or massage gift certificate. Or even take them to lunch. This shows that you notice how hard they are working. Accompany the gift with a card that says “thank you for all you are doing” — or come up with something more clever!
  2. Leadership/Voice/Public Acknowledgement: Another way to acknowledge hard work or show appreciation to your team is to offer them additional opportunities to lead. The idea is to encourage creativity and out of the box thinking while giving a voice to those who typically don’t have a seat at the management table. For example, an employee who is particularly enthusiastic about sharing relevant articles and new ideas might enjoy the chance to lead a staff meeting, or present their ideas to the group during a lightning talk (a very short presentation lasting only a few minutes, given at a conference or meeting, using a format which introduces urgency to combat “death by PowerPoint”). Last, remember to call out good work publicly, at staff or board meetings. Create a culture of appreciation!
  3. Professional Development: Finally, offer the team opportunities to represent your organization at local, state or national conferences. Then ask them to present the new information they’ve gained to the entire team. Employees feel good about being asked to take part in relevant, sector wide events, and the networking they do there might be great PR for your organization. Ask staff members who are experts in their field to present as facilitators or panelists at these conferences and trainings – it is both a fantastic experience for your team and a good idea to position your organization as a thought leader in the field. Be sure to include professional development opportunities in your annual budget when you do budget planning this spring!

Join us live next Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 2 pm when Giving Tree consultants will be live on Facebook from our annual holiday party, showing you how staff appreciation is done! And then join us in two weeks for the second part in our gratitude series focused on volunteer appreciation. See you then!