The Importance of Positive Nonprofit Office Culture
Nonprofits have faced a variety of challenges — especially in the past three years. One significant challenge that continues to plague nonprofits is the shortage of key staff. On a weekly basis, colleagues ask if I know someone looking for a new nonprofit position. Local nonprofits in my home area of Indianapolis are suffering because key employees have left positions for other opportunities.
In a pre-COVID environment, 74% of nonprofits cited staff storage as their biggest challenge. Can you imagine what the survey results would be in today’s market? The job world is upside down due to factors such as employees working from home, compressed or hybrid work schedules, salary constraints and new demands from employees who feel like they control the job market. Today’s nonprofit employees better understand the concept of workplace culture.
NonProfit PRO’s “8 Must-Know Nonprofit Trends for 2022,” cited nonprofit office culture as a trend. Erin Mulligan Nelson, CEO of Bonterra, noted that leading an office with empathy while being a champion of an inclusive culture cannot be overstated. The post-pandemic workplace must contain an environment where employees feel supported, accepted and understood. Focusing on mental health and inclusiveness matters. It is vital that employers institute wellness programs and flexible opportunities for employees.
Employees looking for new employers are looking for those with a positive organizational culture, where organizations encourage employees to interact with their managers and others on the job. Employers must take initiative and consider the welfare of their employees. Employees of today want an employer with a style and fit that makes sense for them.
Employees expect a friendly and collaborative work environment, and seek these attributes when searching for a new job. They want to know if employers talk the talk and care about their workforce.
Why does nonprofit workplace culture matter so much to potential nonprofit employees? According to Nonprofit Quarterly’s “Nonprofit Workplace Culture: Why It Matters So Much to Us,” employees should examine if the organization has personal politics to match its stated mission intentions. When looking for the right nonprofit organization, examine morale, see if the strategic plan exists, and note if the organization is full of dysfunction.
Employees looking for a new nonprofit need to find out the employee turnover rate and organizational management style. Determine if the organization has integrity, makes community impact and what the reputation of the organization is by interviewing employees at various levels of the organization.
Culture is the foundation and embodiment of your organization. Your stakeholders must all be on the same page to have an effective nonprofit culture with leadership taking the reins. A nonprofit leader must maintain that positive organizational culture by getting its team to understand the organizational core values, mission and culture, as well as making sure the staff feels valued and part of organizational success. Poor workplace cultures cost U.S. employers $223 billion in turnover over a five-year period, according to a 2019 report.
To set a positive work culture, set clear departmental goals, promote organizational goals, allow for humor and prioritize respect in the workplace. Build core values within the organization. Help employees promote organizational goals, promote diversity and inclusivity, make work fun, create an employee recognition program, accept employees’ feedback, be flexible and transparent, plan social outings, and allow employees to share confidential information. Positive cultures are consistent when everyone throughout the organization works together as a team.
A massive shift in workplace culture is underway in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through moving employees to remote and hybrid working, 57% of companies anticipate employer cultural changes. Workplace culture is important because it is how employees feel about work. Employees' mental health and well-being is important.
Organizations need to reevaluate their culture now and consider a cultural reset. Employers need to observe their current culture in action. They need to send out culture surveys and improve communication vehicles. The work environment needs to be a place where employees feel safe, engaged, inspired and productive. Every manager needs to understand that organizational culture should be a priority. Culture is constantly a work in progress. It is important to have a positive nonprofit office culture. Understand this concept and seek to proactively address it today. The workplace landscape has forever changed, so be a part of this movement.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.