It’s well documented that stress in the workplace is strongly associated with absenteeism, lower productivity, poor morale and high turnover rates. Conversely, employee wellness programs are a proven component in attracting top talent and keeping them happy. Despite this, non-profits often have a reputation for pushing a missionary-like work ethic (long hours, thankless work, low pay) on their employees.
Non-profit professionals need to pay attention bring a culture of wellness and well-being into the non-profit workplace, says NPO sector advice guru, Beth Kantor. Her new book, The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit, shows practioneers how to find a way for their organisation to have “impact without the burnout.”
There are many lists offering x number of ways to encourage well-being in the workplace. Gym memberships and enlightened health insurance plans are obvious fixtures, but the typical cash-strapped, South African NPO may not be in a position to offer such generous perks.
Still, there are plenty of common sense ideas that can be implemented at relatively low costs. Here are some of the more frequent, and more accessible, suggestions to promoting well-being in the NPO workplace:
1. Provide healthy snacks for the staff.
2. Be generous about leave time and holidays.
3. Offer flexible work hours and start times so staff can workout, attend to personal business, take on other projects, etc.
4. Encourage staff to use all their vacation time.
5. Don’t let frustrated people keep working. Tell them to take a break, go for a walk, or take a long lunch.
6. Schedule break times, even consider office naps.
7. Encourage physical activity. Keep balls, hula hoops, maybe even scooters around the office.
8. Post your organisation's mission and vision statement in the office, just to remind everyone what all the hard work is for.
9. Celebrate work anniversaries.
10. Make sure your own people have all the cool stuff you give away at conferences, campaigns, launch events (mugs, logowear, pens, stationary, etc.).
11. Host brownbags where staffers present on a topic they’re interested in (work-related or otherwise). Also use this time to discuss important updates.
12. Use regular staff meetings to build a sense of community.
13. Have fun outside the workplace.
14. Openly discuss the topic of well-being with staff.
Sources and further reading:
Beth Kantor, "Do You Work for A Nonprofit That Promotes A Culture of Wellbeing in the Workplace?" Beth's Blog, bethkantor.org. (20 Sep. 2016)
Beth Kantor. The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout. (October 2016).
"121 Employee Wellness Program Ideas For Your Office". snacknation.com. Emil Shour, Content Manager.