Case study: engaging staff in not-for-profit organisations

How to engage staff in not-for-profit organisations

April 14, 2014

The 2014 Sunday Times Best 100 Not-for-Profit Organisations to Work For list is a telling example of a sector thriving through staff engagement, amidst budget cuts and job losses.

Almost 55,000 staff from 204 organisations were surveyed by Best Companies to identify the top-performing 100 not-for-profit employers.

Claire Ryan, business excellence manager for South Liverpool Homes (SLH), who hit the top spot of the list this year, believes that engaging a not-for-profit workforce is down to a different kind of industry-wide motivation.

She said: “Not-for-profit organisations have a heavy focus on value for money rather than profit – the more savings we make, the leaner we are and that money goes back to the customer.

“We are driven in a different way – our CEO, Julie Fadden, is constantly telling staff that they are making a difference to people’s lives – that is what this sector is about.”

SLH – a not-for-profit housing association responsible for more than 3,600 in south Liverpool – is a particular success story, charting at 89th place in 2012, moving to 12th in 2013 and topping the list this year.

As Claire explains, Best Companies has been used for much more than an accolade:

“We use the survey as a tool for continuous improvement, driving forward staff engagement using the results each year.

“One of the strongest engagement devices we have found is our monthly staff care group, which Julie chairs.

“We have representatives from every team and we welcome their feedback, which is used to drive forward engagement activity with employees.”

Staff at SLH are also actively involved in the organisation’s corporate plan along with one-to-one coaching sessions for management training, delivered by the CEO.

Where possible, SLH focuses its IC on face-to-face contact, complementing it with a staff-led newsletter, intranet and monthly e-brief.

“We need engaged staff in order to be a successful organisation,” said Claire. “This thinking has turned things around for us – we buy into our staff and they buy into us.

“The benefits are clear – we have reached the top spot for engagement and our operational performance is reaching new heights, so it has a real knock-on effect.”

She added: “Our employees are doing tough jobs in uncertain and challenging times.

“Engagement, monitored thorough using Best Companies, has helped our staff navigate through those times.”