How to Ensure Your Nonprofit Employees Feel Heard

When people feel heard at work, they’re more likely to contribute their unique thoughts and perspectives to key conversations your nonprofit is having—and let you know if something isn’t working. That’s why listening is a vital part of any healthy nonprofit’s organizational culture. 

Here are a few steps organizations can take to foster a culture where people feel comfortable speaking up—and know their voice is being heard. 

1. Send anonymous surveys 

Without hearing honest employee input, it can be more difficult to implement impactful changes—or even know what needs to be changed. Anonymous surveys provide employees with an opportunity to grade their nonprofit’s work culture honestly and reflect on areas of improvement that could elevate their work experience. 

Surveys can cover a variety of topics, from engagement to satisfaction with leadership. To get the most value of them, use them on a consistent basis, rather than as a one-off effort, to help you spot trends over time and show employees that listening is an ongoing priority for your organization. Glint, LinkedIn’s employee engagement and performance management solution, uses automation to help nonprofits rapidly gather and analyze survey data to make informed decisions. 

2. Create space for everyone to speak up

Normalizing speaking up is critical to fostering a culture of respectful and collaborative listening at your nonprofit. But while some people will feel comfortable standing up in an all-hands meeting to share their thoughts, others may naturally be more reserved in such a public setting. 

Consider different ways that your organization can listen. This could include monthly organization-wide meetings, frequent one-on-ones between managers and employees, and the anonymous surveys mentioned above. By ensuring that everyone has a platform where they’re able to share, you can have confidence that you’re getting the full picture. 

3. Act on the feedback you hear

Effective listening isn’t a passive activity. For employees to feel truly heard, they need to see your organization using their feedback to drive meaningful change.

Timing is important here. Some feedback will need to be urgently addressed, while other learnings may require time and thoughtful discussions before a strategic plan can be created and implemented. If you can’t immediately act on what you’re hearing, acknowledge it and let employees know concrete steps that your organization is taking so that they don’t feel like their feedback is going into a black hole. 

4. Invite employees to be part of your employer brand 

Your employer brand influences how candidates view your organization—but it can also make an impression on your current employees. By inviting your people to help you tell the story of your nonprofit’s culture, you can also influence a more open, collaborative culture anchored by listened. 

Ask employees to describe your culture in their own words and use this to inform how you present your nonprofit to prospective talent. You can even feature testimonials from your people on your LinkedIn Career Page. That way, there’ll be no surprises when someone joins the organization. 

Lead by listening 

You never know what might hear when you make a conscious and ongoing effort to listen closely. Building a listening culture can highlight pathways to improvement that weren’t clear before—and help you boost employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. 

To learn more about how Glint can help your nonprofit better understand and act on employee feedback, reach out to our team

This post was inspired by the LinkedIn Talent Blog article, “Listen Up! Why a Good Company Culture Starts with Making Employees Feel Heard,” authored by Laura Hilgers.