NPOs – What a Great Place to Work!

By Peggy Jennings

The NonProfit Times (NPT) recently posted their 2014 list of the best nonprofits to work for and this fueled my thinking.  What makes one place to work better than another?  How do you distinguish a Great place to work?

My experience working with nonprofits has shown me that this statement is spot on.  I have seen that all nonprofits can be great places to work if they pay attention to a few key tenants:

  • Maintain enthusiasm for your mission
  • Provide opportunity for personal growth
  • Respect and appreciate all levels of personnel
  • Share decision making to foster creativity

In fact, these principles are good for all of us to follow in our workplace; however, it can be overwhelming to take these from concept to practice.  So, here are a couple suggestions that I have seen over the years that work for maintaining mission enthusiasm:

  • Encourage the sharing of stories and data that demonstrate your success:  Whether you have regular and formal staff meetings or frequent water cooler chats, make mission a part of the conversation.  Many organizations get so caught up in the details of day-to-day tasks that they forget to take a step back and say, “Wow!  Look at what we’ve done!”   Always make your mission the center of your conversations.
  • Get into the field on a regular basis:  Depending on your organization, you likely have some way employees can “experience” your mission!  Pull your accountant, operations, or marketing person out of their office cube for just a few hours every so often, and put them into an environment where they can see your mission in action.  Obviously, this is an easier task for human services organizations, but all other nonprofits can (and should!) find a way to make this happen.

What do you think?  What makes an organization a great place to work?  What practical suggestions do you have for achieving employee satisfaction?

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