High staff turnover and poor performance have been continuous issues for both international and local organizations and the root of the problem is often in motivating staff and volunteers. Financial constraints and multicultural environments make this issue even more difficult to tackle. Luckily, it's not impossible; there are plenty of ways to show your appreciation and keep your people happy.
Communication is Key
All employees (paid staff or volunteers) need to feel valued and have the opportunity to contribute to the development of strategy and processes to help improve the effectiveness of the organization's mission. So, it's your responsibility to proactively engage in dialogue with all employees to be aware of and manage their expectations and/or goals. Regular communication is important to all your workers--and lack of it can cause dissatisfaction and decreased productivity.
Inviting them to provide suggestions gives them an incentive to stay and continue the good work. Is there a process in place to provide feedback? If no, you better get one quick! Be ready to listen and respond to all concerns immediately. Take it a step further by inviting them to your office, sending consistent email updates or start a company newsletter. Investing more in your recruitment process will help you raise awareness of the issues and could potentially attract an increase in funding
Thank Yous Go a Long Way
In 1966, a man named Frederick Herzberg conducted a research study to determine the importance of work and working conditions for workers. He uncovered that low wages could cause dissatisfaction, but it also didn't lead to satisfaction. Instead, his subjects ranked a sense of achievement, recognition, being given responsibility, advancement and interesting work as more important than money.
There aren't always funds for costly incentive programs, but appreciation doesn't have to equate to a payout. Non-monetary incentives enhance motivation, too. Although volunteers don't get paid, they often devote much time and energy to causes they believe in, so say thank you with a personalized, handwritten note.
If you run a volunteer or non-profit organization, consider the following:
1. Express Importance of Individual Roles
Has the organization defined where it's going and what it stands for? Your volunteers need to be able to relate to the mission and understand that their individual work is contributing to the greater good of the community and/or the planet.
2. Advocate Personal and Professional Growth
What are your plans to place people and even help them develop new skills? Evaluate the aspirations and potential of each individual to better place them in roles that will lead to loyalty and continued service. If you can align the business needs with the abilities and the interests of a volunteer, you've got a keeper. Be sure to give them opportunities for career development, too. It's been said that employees or volunteers in a non-profit setting often experience faster career development than those in the for-profit sector because they've been exposed to a wider range of skills.
3. Freebies and Discounts
When there's free food at an event, the turnout is likely double or triple what it would have been without the advertising of free snacks and refreshments. Free food and beverages can draw a decent crowd at a local event, but if you're looking to attract international volunteers, you might need to pay for at least room and board, maybe even local transportation. You can offer an airline loyalty program membership if they are traveling internationally on a regular basis--especially if the program has added benefits and discounts with a membership. If your organization doesn't have the budget dollars to do so, look into partnering with third-party organizations that help promote global volunteering, then you might be able to split or pass off those costs.
High Profile Perks
If you're one of the of the lucky organizations backed by celebrities or well-to-do donors, invite your volunteers and staff to attend star-studded fundraisers. The incentive to be surrounded by public figures is a huge motivator. Not many people would turn down a reception, dinner party or event attended by some of their favorite athletes, actors, musicians or artists who are passionate about the same causes. For some, even planning the event itself could be incentive enough, especially if you position it as a plum assignment for exemplary dedication and work.