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  • Pat Libby

Flexibility in the workplace is NOT an "F" word

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Nonprofits are on the cutting edge of so many things that are breathtaking in big and small ways ranging from theater performances adapted for people with Autism, to breakthrough Cancer treatments.

The list is endless.

Yet, for some odd reason, many nonprofits are stuck in the 1950's when it comes to workplace practices.

As a sector, we carry overwork as a badge of pride.

Put the words “overworked nonprofit sector” into your search engine and you’ll come up with a million sources on this topic.

If we want nonprofit staff to be happy and productive, it’s important to implement strategies that will enable people to stay engaged in the good work they do for the long-haul.

(As a search consultant, I can tell you that it’s time consuming and expensive to replace people at any level in an organization, but you already knew that).

I’m not talking about making people happy by putting gourmet coffee or ping pong tables in the breakroom. Or even about adding a zillion extra vacation days to the benefits package (most folks don’t take them anyway).

The biggest “perk” employees want in a company – nonprofit or for-profit – is flexibility!

Yup, that’s it.

People want the flexibility to come in late and leave early. To work from home on occasion. To be an adult about how their time is used to get the job done.

They also want supervisors to be clear about their expectations, to check in regularly, and to give them feedback.

It stands to reason, that most people who work for nonprofits want to do good and do it well. To help them succeed, give them direction and flexibility.

Millennials in San Diego reported that flexibility was the biggest reason they would choose to stay at their current job.

And they’re not alone.

Workers of all ages in a variety of professions – from finance to restaurant work – prize workplace flexibility.

And, most important, companies of all sizes that offer flexible schedules find that it improves productivity!

Flexible scheduling could even be an antidote to the new disease classification of workplace “burnout” identified by the World Health Organization – I’m not kidding!

If you’re looking for a new employment perk, that won’t cost you money and may increase your productivity and employee happiness, try it.


Pat Libby is a San Diego nonprofit consultant and philanthropy consultant. Her organizational strategy consulting has been helping organizations optimize their impact for more than three decades. Find out more about Pat's services here, and contact her today for a free consultation.


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