Updated: May 12, 2019
This is our three-part series on why it’s important to make certain kinds of investments. As many in the finance world can tell you, an investment is not an expense. Rather, it’s an upfront payment of cash or other resources that can potentially create more value for you. We’ll start today with Part I of the series: The Importance of Investment in Your Employees.
It’s commonly known and is generally considered a best practice for organizations to invest in developing their top management and governing board. Makes sense. These are the groups that lead and govern the organization, so they should be at their absolute best.
Groups that are often overlooked, however, are lower- and mid-level employees. They should also be considered an area of investment as they should also be at their best if an organization truly wants to be successful.
How can you invest in your staff?
The best way to invest in your employees is to simply provide opportunities for professional and personal development. Offer training and access to courses where they can hone their current skills and gain new ones. Begin thinking more seriously about instituting succession planning, developing a leadership pipeline, and promoting from within. Find ways to allow employees to participate in cross-departmental training and mentoring. Not only that, but allow them to explore their personal interests as well. Maybe your Janitor loves creative writing. Or maybe your Accounting Manager really enjoys baking. It’s important to recognize that people are more than their jobs. By finding creative ways to support your staff professionally and personally, you can let your employees know that you value them, and that they aren’t just cogs in the machine. They can see when time and money is being pumped into development programs for leadership and the board, and when they are included with similar opportunities, it can boost morale and can make them feel like they are a valued part of the team. Employees that are recipients of this kind of investment will develop a sense of deep loyalty and commitment to the organization. They will want to be held more accountable for their work and will want to continually do better.
So why are employees overlooked?
Even though an increasing amount of evidence suggests that investing in employees helps ensure an organization’s long-term success, it is still very common for staff to be excluded from such programs. Many leaders state that the cost of such an investment is simply far too high, that cash is a little too tight, that there isn’t any money in the budget for it. But this line of thinking can severely cripple an organization’s ability to operate sustainably and effectively. In fact, it actually costs LESS to invest in your staff over the long term. Turnover is expensive. The cost of employee turnover is excruciatingly high. Think about the process of filling a position:
The institutional knowledge lost when employees leave;
The time spent by (and overtime paid to) current employees for filling in while the position is vacant;
The countless hours spent on creating and posting a job description, weeding through resumes and applications, scheduling and conducting interviews; and
The time it takes to train a new employee to fully get them up to speed.
Doesn't look fun.
All of this is exceedingly costly. But an investment in your staff, as mentioned before, is not a cost. It will be paid back to you.
Employees will be better trained and will perform better at their jobs.
Not only will they perform their job functions better, but they will feel free to be creative and will begin seeking more innovative ways to solve problems and pursue your organization’s mission. They will be excited about their work and, as a result, will provide a better service to your organization’s customers, clients, and/or program beneficiaries. They will work more effectively AND efficiently, thereby reducing costs and potentially increasing revenues.
Employees will be more engaged and will have higher job satisfaction.
Increased training and development of your employees will allow them to be empowered in their work. This will help single out employees who are excited about their job, who want to be more engaged in your cause, and who want to do more for the organization. It can also help identify employees who want to take on more responsibility and who have the potential to move up the ranks.
You will be better able to attract high-quality talent.
Having an organization with a culture of valuing and developing its team will boost its reputation in your industry and region. Your employees will be proud of where they work, will be less likely to leave, and will burnout much less easily--which, as you may know, is often an issue in nonprofits and other cause-focused organizations. Your organization’s reputation will be able to attract the best and the brightest as they seek work they can enjoy, with a team they can enjoy, and with the freedom and support to pursue their goals.
Look how happy!
Investing in your employees is increasingly crucial for the success of any organization. Effectively prioritizing even a little time, money, and other resources into your staff will be paid back over the long term. Implementing a culture of growth and development will allow your organization to be sustainable, to pursue its mission, and to thrive. ---- Be sure to check out Parts II and III of the Importance of Investment series in the coming weeks: