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Leadership Development and Employee Engagement in Nonprofits

One of the strongest predictors for retaining a quality workforce is an employee’s level of engagement. This research paper examines the influence of a leadership development program on employee behaviors and organizational outcomes in a nonprofit organization. Does widespread training up and down the org chart positively affect workforce engagement?

Nonprofit organizations aspiring to foster an engaged workplace confront a complex context of challenges, including:

Responsibility for some public services are shifting from government to nonprofit organizations

Nonprofit employees are commonly involved in front-line human services work that can lead to burnout

Nonprofit financial models are changing with shifts in charitable giving and government budgets

Recruiting and retaining talented workers in the non-profit sector can be difficult, particularly when for-profit companies can offer better compensation

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OUR CURIOSITY

If a nonprofit organization saturated their organization with leadership development training, would employees have greater commitment to the organization and optimism for its future? Additionally, would employees start thinking and behaving differently with one another?

USEFUL FINDINGS

Employee leadership = Enhanced employee engagement

Employees who are likely to use leadership concepts in their daily work are:

  • more committed to their organization
  • more hopeful about the organization’s future
  • more satisfied with their job

Saturation = Culture change

Saturating an organization with leadership development leads to employees thinking about and doing their work differently.

  • Employees start thinking about the adaptive challenges in their work.
  • Employees engage more collaboratively.
  • Employees work across units in the organization.

Two doses = Most impact

Employees who are likely to use leadership concepts in their daily work are:

  • more committed to their organization
  • more hopeful about the organization’s future
  • more satisfied with their job

In-person development = Increased confidence/usage

Leadership programs delivered in person increased individuals’ confidence in and likelihood to use leadership concepts in daily work more than online trainings that were delivered asynchronously.

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