Nonprofit administrators are some of the most passionate workers out there. We have to be because we get paid less and work more hours than most others. We are doing the work because we care deeply about the cause.
The nonprofit admin hiring scene is often described as “musical chairs” because people tend to leave a job to go to another similar job at a different organization because the previous person in that job left to go to another similar job at a different organization.
Most don’t leave the industry, we just jump from organization to organization in search of a better work situation.
Because we love the work but reach a point where we can’t stand our job. We just can’t deal with the internal politics, inflexible working conditions, well below average pay, or pushback from colleagues and superiors. I’m sure you have reasons beyond these that you’ve left a job which had nothing to do with your actual work or the mission of the org.
Nonprofits could do a lot to improve working conditions and employee happiness but we seem to be intent on perpetuating a Dilbert-esque environment which only causes people to reach a point where they can no longer take it.
How do we fix it?
What if we had a set of basic things that all nonprofits offered as a way to increase employee satisfaction and happiness?
Most of the things that are top of mind for me are relatively simple and don’t cost any money at all. (Yes, I know money is certainly an issue, but that is a conversation for another day.)
- Flex time. Because the nature of the job almost always includes working extra hours whether it is for a special event, run of a show, exhibition opening, or even networking event, the ability get those hours back is almost priceless. I have a feeling that most of us would use them for rather mundane things like doctor appointments, errands, or seeing our children.
- Flexible work locations. Yes, there is value to having a team all under the same roof and I’m not calling for completely remote work (yet), but sometimes getting out of the office can boost creativity and productivity. Allowing people to work from home or a coffee shop periodically is ultimately going to be good for the organization and good for our souls.
- Reasonable job duties. If I had a nickel for every time I saw a job listing that has way more job duties than is possible for one person to accomplish at a high level of quality. If your organization needs all of those things done and doesn’t have the money to pay for multiple staff members to do them, that is a bigger issue which needs to be addressed.
- Increased risk tolerance. This is a big one, I know. You know when you’re hired for a job and they tell you that they want to do things differently to increase efficiency, efficacy of campaigns, internal procedures, etc. but then they are so stuck in their ways that they don’t let you do the job they hired you for? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. A person is hired because you trust them to do the job so upping the risk tolerance even just slightly would go a long way. This is something that is the responsibility of every manager in an organization.
If you’d like to share things that have made your work life better that you’d like to include on the list, post in the comments.