Keeping Your Staff Motivated During the Holidays

Benefits, galas, and end-of-year donations—the holiday season is a busy time for nonprofits.

It’s the last chance to meet yearly fundraising goals and establish relationships that will be helpful to future projects. All that pressure to perform could leave your staff feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated as they strive to balance their professional lives with the holiday activities their families enjoy.

Statistics tell us that balancing work and family events is the leading cause of stress during the holidays (32%–above heavy workloads and understaffed offices). This can be especially difficult in the nonprofit sector when staff members are busy hosting their largest and most profitable fundraising events to capture end-of-year donations. Difficulties with staff retention, lower levels of productivity, and a depletion of innovation and creativity can have long-lasting effects on motivation that can spread throughout an organization even after the holiday season is past.

Team leaders can combat this motivation drain and empower their teams with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for their jobs. By designing a multi-layered plan to support staff members through personal, group and company programs you’ll offer tangible and non-tangible benefits that can turn depleted energy into the enthusiasm needed for a healthy, happy workplace.

Creating a positive environment within your organization will keep your team motivated and dedicated throughout the year. For more ideas to increase your team’s motivation check out our blog post “Creating Positivity Within Your Organization.”

Focus on Professional Goals

Remind each staff member how much they have invested in their work by scheduling their annual evaluations during the last weeks of the year. Discuss goals and successes and offer understanding and support where you find they face challenges. Set measurable long and short-term goals and offer learning opportunities that will keep them forward focused.

Holiday staff parties and fundraising events can provide opportunities to publicly recognize those individuals who’ve earned praise and awards throughout the year. Consider awarding stand-out employees privately with a gift, such as retail vouchers, bonuses or a pay raise that proves the organization values their work contributions.

For a subtler approach to show your gratitude ask key staff members for their opinions on a project or invite them to be a part of a planning team they haven’t experienced yet. Offering them a chance to expand their role within your nonprofit can expose them to other areas of your organization, provide them with new challenges and train them to handle tasks that build on their current skills. Along with increasing their motivation for their job it can also enhance an employee’s self-esteem and make them even more valuable team member.

And never forget that sometimes offering a sincere ‘thank you’ is always appreciated.

Support Their Family Time

Cultivating an environment that supports a healthy work/life balance is important for everyone, especially during the holiday season. Consider bringing the families together for a group appreciation event. Providing activities for the whole family is a great way to underscore that the private lives of your staff members is as important to you as it is to them.

Consider adjustments to your company calendar to offer your staff more time to be with their families and celebrate the holidays without worrying about missing out on work obligations. Test drive staggered or flexible schedules and encourage vacations or shorter hours on Fridays.

Getting the Team Together

It doesn’t require a formal setting to get your team together for a special break. Whether it’s a potluck lunch on Friday or a masseuse to start off the week, sometimes it’s the smallest gestures that make the biggest difference to your staff.

Informal sports and social clubs are a great way to bring people of similar interests together for team bonding sessions. Book clubs, bowling leagues and any other type of group can be formed for fun or sport.

Does your department need an expensive piece of equipment or do you know of a workplace gadget that will help your staff get their work finished easier or faster? Give your team the tools to be more efficient or just make the work more fun. Create a goal focused game where every completed task gets the team closer to the prize of a new water cooler, satellite radio subscription, lunch catered by everyone’s favorite restaurant, or anything else that will benefit the team.

Holiday parties are expected in some organizations this time of year, but you can shake up the routine with a great new theme or venue. Make it a family friendly event and rent out a movie theater to show a film that’s fun for both adults and kids, or host an adults-only party at a vineyard or art gallery. You could even host an event with an inspirational speaker if you feel your team would enjoy getting a jump start on their New Year’s resolutions.

Motivation is the fuel that keeps the engine of your nonprofit going strong during stressful times. Making the extra effort to amp up your staff’s motivation quotient will keep them humming along throughout the holidays and into 2019!

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