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January 28, 2020

Prioritizing Opportunities for Staff Engagement

As our industry evolves, we are seeing more associations follow the lead of for-profit companies in prioritizing staff engagement as a strategic initiative — and with good reason. Approaching staff engagement as part of a strategic plan yields clear results. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report shows that a highly engaged business sees a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity. More importantly, engaged employees report higher satisfaction with their work and are more likely to remain at their jobs longer.

Opportunities for staff engagement

Four boxes with the words leadership, communications, values, and policies bolded.

1. Leverage leadership and management 

The leadership team can make a vital, overarching impact on an organization. Committed leaders who have a clear sense of how engagement is tied to organizational strategy have the power to initiate positive, company-wide cultural shifts. Identifying areas of improvement and a clear action plan is the key for meaningful workplace change. A few goals for consideration include:

  • Clear, compelling direction that empowers each staff member.
  • Opportunities for staff input on strategy and decisions that impact daily work.
  • Increased cross-departmental collaboration.


 2. Optimize internal communications

Internal communications are often overlooked in favor of flashy new initiatives or revenue-generating programs. However, feeling informed about what is happening within your organization is essential to engagement. Consider the effective internal communications practices below. How does your organization measure up?

What It Looks Like:
How To Do It:
  • Use clear language, free of jargon.
  • Deliver direct and objective information.
  • Encourage two-way dialogue.
  • Make communications regular and predictable.
  • Take your audience(s) and their needs into consideration.
  • Ensure accessibility through various mediums. 
  • Determine what types of information will be available through which channels and deliver consistently.
  • Establish a regular schedule and format for sharing critical information via email.
  • Integrate informal, face-to-face opportunities for conversation.
  • Customize updates for specific departments or programs, leveraging leadership team members to deliver key messages.


3. Prioritize culture

An equation for staff engagement, passion plus values equals culture match.

Building an inclusive culture allows employees to thrive and do their best work. Considering a candidate’s traits beyond education and skills ensures that all new staff embody the passion and values expressed by your organization’s mission and team. Additionally, defining and communicating existing and planned efforts for diversity, equity and inclusion emphasizes a commitment to an engaging and open work environment.

4. Revisit key policies

Although organizational policy updates might not be the most exciting strategic initiative, it is essential that practices are in alignment with strategic goals and the organizational culture the association seeks to create. Today, employees have much higher expectations for flexibility in their work and that leads to greater satisfaction. In Gallup’s report, 53% of employees said a role that allows them to have greater work-life balance and better personal well-being is “very important” to them. Therefore, it is essential to regularly check in with staff to stay knowledgeable of current wishes and trends. An annual staff survey has the potential to provide benchmarks and enable leadership to consistently meet expectations.

According to Gallup,

“60% of employees consider the ability to do what they do best in a role is ‘very important’ to them.”

Employees are more in control of their work-life than ever before, and disengaged staff members are twice as likely than engaged members to seek a job elsewhere. Associations that actively seek to engage their employees successfully retain top-tier talent and foster a culture of collaboration and productivity that ensures a return on investment and drives the overarching mission.

Reach out to McKinley Advisors to discover ways you can engage your staff.


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