Earlier this year, UST conducted one of its most extensive assessments of the nonprofit workforce to date. The 2015 Nonprofit Employee Engagement & Retention Report gathered feedback from over 1,500 nonprofit professionals nationwide to reveal what factors makes the most successful organizations thrive.
One of the most interesting findings was that Supervisory and Non-supervisory employees don’t always see eye to eye on what contributes to job satisfaction. But one thing they do agree on is that culture is critical. In fact, 62% of supervisory and 60% of non-supervisory employees cited “Culture or office environment” as a leading variable that influences job satisfaction.
“Culture” is easiest understood as the stuff that makes a job more than just a paycheck. Maintaining a positive culture provides emotional fulfillment that elevates one’s occupation and makes it a source of pride and satisfaction.
How employees experience their organization’s culture is a little less obvious, but once realized can provide a powerful path to change: culture is primarily interpreted through an employee’s interactions with her immediate supervisor.
Think about the things that we often associate with great company culture: flexible schedules, company outings, well-stocked break rooms, generous benefits, etc. None of these are bad ideas, but their costs can quickly add up—a luxury many nonprofits can’t afford to take on. More importantly, they cannot improve your organization’s culture if the fundamental relationship between employee and supervisor is broken.
Thankfully, improving supervisors’ connections with their employees is often straight forward (if not necessarily easy). One key realization separates strong leaders from merely adequate supervisors: employees are real people. If that sounds too simple, consider the ways that common supervision strategies often contradict this mentality and how that compares to more personal interactions.
In general, nonprofits with weak cultures often have managers and supervisors that are focused exclusively on what the organization wants from its employees. On the other hand, organizations with strong cultures have managers and supervisors that are equally focused on what the employees want from the organization.
Writing at eremedia.com, Ron Thomas describes this as “Moving beyond the 9-5 person.” Until a nonprofit stops acting as though their employees set aside their “real life” when they walk in the door each morning—and embraces the organization’s role in serving its employees’ needs as much as its own—goals of providing a rewarding culture will always remain out of reach.
Want to learn more about the latest nonprofit turnover and employee engagement trends? Get your free copy of the “2015 UST Nonprofit Employee Engagement & Retention Report” today.