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Jill Pappenheimer, Partner, and Stacy Litteral, Managing Director, both of BPM’s Human Resources Consulting Practice, discussed ways that nonprofit organizations can support a holistic employee experience, creating a more productive workplace and raising retention rates in the process. The latest webinar took place on September 14, 2023, and was part of the Firm’s Nonprofit Education Series. 

Key topics covered included:  

  • Prioritizing the employee experience 
  • Optimizing technology 
  • Understanding how to motivate and lead a distributed team 

Prioritizing the employee experience 

As hybrid work becomes the norm, a holistic employee experience is vital for organizations that want to attract, engage and retain staff. For employees, this means meaningful work, feedback, flexibility, inclusivity and trust. Millennials rank the opportunity to grow and learn within a job as their number one priority. At the same time, nonprofit employees, in particular, want to work for organizations that align with their personal values.  

To create a more robust employee experience, employers should define – or even co-create with their employees – a hybrid workplace strategy that is part of their organization’s culture and make long-term investments in wellness, education, coaching and social responsibility. Above all, it is important to remember that employee experience is an ongoing process. Organizations should stay agile and commit to continuously improving in this area. 

Optimizing technology

Fortunately, there are many technological options that can help employers contribute to a better employee experience. Most organizations already use some for tasks such as payroll or compliance; other possible tools include learning management systems, performance management systems and employee self-service portals. Employers should let organizational objectives drive their choice of software. If building your team is a key objective, for example, an applicant tracking system or a recruiting tool would be appropriate options.  

Employee engagement (performance management) tools, such as BPM Link, are becoming especially popular, as they offer integrated platforms to support employee voices and create accountability. In addition, robust performance tools support measurable goals, soliciting and receiving feedback, and ensuring ongoing communication. They are especially effective when used to support employee connectedness and build a culture that embraces core values.    

Understanding how to motivate and lead a distributed team

Leadership is changing in both the nonprofit and corporate arenas as organizations discover that leadership based on empathy, trust, and organic and strategic growth is more effective than the traditional top-down, hierarchical approach. This is particularly true as hybrid and remote work becomes the norm, and organizations seek strategies that allow employees flexibility while ensuring that the organization’s mission is met. 

“Employees should participate in what they are held responsible for. If they’re not participating, they’re not owning, and if they’re not owning, they’re being micromanaged. ” – Jill Pappenheimer 

For the sake of both the organization and its staff, employees need clear expectations, continuous performance conversations and a strong culture that motivates them to do their best. Employees are most accountable when they can participate in creating their own primary responsibility and performance KPIs and when they understand how they contribute to organizational initiatives. 

Leaders also need to demonstrate accountability by being available for their team and defining what their team is overall responsible for. Managers should be coached to solicit and give feedback regularly and to honor, address and document employee strengths and weaknesses. 

Learn more

The pandemic, the rise of hybrid and remote work, and a shift in worker values have all contributed to a change in what employer-employee relationships look like. Today, retention depends on ensuring employees are empowered, accountable and deeply aligned with their organization’s values. 

To learn more about creating a better employee experience, using technology effectively, and leading in the age of remote work, watch a replay of Fuel the fire: Strategies for boosting employee experience and retention.   

Headshot of Jill Pappenheimer.


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