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Blog: Professional Development and Recognition Strategies for a Hybrid Nonprofit Team

Professional Development and Recognition Strategies for a Hybrid Nonprofit Team

Opportunities for professional growth and career progression are of utmost importance to employees at all organizations, particularly those less experienced candidates. These opportunities may include structured professional development courses and skill building. Yet nonprofit organizations – particularly small and mid-sized nonprofits – don’t always have extensive paths for career growth. This is where skill-building and regular feedback become essential, particularly for nonprofits with a remote or hybrid workforce.

Feedback helps employees know they’re on the right track professionally. Delivering clarity around job performance can lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction. When employers become more intentional in how they deliver performance feedback and structure professional development for remote workers, they can better support employee growth and strengthen engagement.

1. Highlight opportunities for growth

It is essential to structure opportunities for growth and development, but in the hybrid work environment, it’s also important to regularly bring these opportunities to employees’ attention. Make clear how your organization can support a candidate’s career trajectory, beginning in your recruiting messaging. Include a bullet in the compensation and benefits section of your job posting that addresses professional development benefits. This messaging should also extend into early orientation and during the first year of employment. This might include details in the employee handbook that describe the process for utilizing professional development funds.

Setting the tone early around professional development for your remote workers will let employees know that you’ll be investing in their success. Being intentional about revisiting these discussions around growth will prevent employees from feeling stagnant in their careers. During the first year, this might include discussions about certifications or external resources for professional development during manager one-on-ones. Ensuring employees are skilled for their next step will make them feel prepared for whatever might come next – and helps employees feel invested, which in turn helps retain them.

Download our free guide: Managing HR for Nonprofits with a Hybrid Work Environment

2. Recognize employees and build connections

Intentionality is particularly important when it comes to delivering feedback for hybrid workers. There’s a tendency to put off recognition or performance management until employees are face-to-face, but putting off these discussions can make feedback feel less relevant. When a performance management issue arises out of the office, discuss it immediately while it is still fresh in everyone’s mind. 

Similarly, when employees excel, it’s important to be intentional in recognizing and rewarding employees in a manner that works for the remote environment. While in-the-moment feedback is important here, intentional recognition can also include plans to deliver recognition over virtual meetings. Forwarding praise received from others can also instill pride in a job well done. Employers might also consider remote swag. A number of companies have popped up to help employers create branded gifts that are then made available in online stores. Employees are given credits and can then order gifts that are meaningful to them and show up directly at their door.

More simply, recognition should also come in response to email deliverables. There’s a tendency to send off a deliverable and then not get feedback on whether it met the market. Become intentional about delivering feedback and closing the loop on how deliverables are used or received. 

3. Build strong connections with intentional communication

Delivering feedback is an important way to build relationships in the hybrid or remote work environment. These relationships are important to help employees feel strongly connected to an organization. However, relationship-building in this new way of working can feel difficult. Having employees come in on a team-selected core day, for example, can help. Managers can also create opportunities for employees to interact with their peers remotely. Virtual “water cooler” chats or trivia games that teams can play online together can build comradery.

These relationship-building activities can build strong teams, but managers should also think bigger about building cross-departmental relationships. Cross-departmental collaboration can be more challenging in a hybrid work environment, as there may be fewer reasons to get together and connect. There’s less opportunity to simply bump into colleagues in the hallway. 

Yet these relationships drive the cross-departmental collaboration that can allow for stronger progress toward shared goals. Making sure that other departments know what’s happening in your world can build opportunities for collaboration and trust. To spur this collaboration, be intentional in sharing information related to the company as a whole. This can be as simple as creating the time to share both personal announcements and items discussed in meetings that colleagues may not have had access to. 

Open meetings with time to share also reflect a growing need for employees to bring themselves to work in ways that haven’t been seen before. There’s an increased expectation to be able to bring one’s authentic self to work. Allowing space for some discussion of one’s personal life or interests, through a supportive work environment, can be instrumental in building strong relationships that will engage hybrid and remote employees.

4. Prepare your managers to better support the team

Nonprofits can maximize the success of this new world of work by becoming more intentional in how they recognize, manage, and communicate with employees. They may find they need to update their management approach in order to better deliver recognition and professional development for remote workers. Organizations that wish to prepare their managers to better support the modern workplace may find it beneficial to connect with a consultant who can provide an objective perspective on skill building. If you’re ready to take that step to support your nonprofit team, Vault can help. Contact us today.