As the world reopens after the pandemic, we’re increasingly noticing differences along generational lines when it comes to attitudes towards work and the workplace. What hasn’t changed is that collaboration and innovation still drive the nonprofit sector forward – and, as always, new generations of fundraisers need to be part of that. As you look to grow your team and reopen your office after the pandemic, the telltale signs of success are embracing diverse experiences amongst intergenerational teams, remaining flexible, and setting clear expectations for your workplace culture.
But if you’re a Baby Boomer or Gen X’er leading teams challenged with incentivizing, interviewing, and offering jobs to Gen Z or Millennial candidates, its possible that you might have divergent expectations of what ‘work’ means to your organization than your current or prospective employees. Finding common ground on what evidence-based outcome delivery of mission means for your organization will always remain a priority, but when it comes to office routines, there are several things you can do to set expectations for more seasoned staff members as well as engage those that came of age in a virtual world as you all work towards your shared mission together.
Your office’s dress code is one place to start
Boomers might remember that when the trickle of female employees into the workforce grew into a wave in the 1970’s, women were expected to blend in with a uniform modeled by the men who opened the doors to their employment: dark skirted suits feminized by floppy silk ties instead of a Windsor knot. Offices, and women’s fashion, don’t look that way anymore. And we even saw the integration of fundraising practices into business wear with business casual and jean Fridays—office fundraisers where, for a donation, an employee could wear jeans into a traditionally formal office for a day—which made the possibility of working in comfortable clothes a regular feature of the office landscape.
An appealing workspace can set a standard by what isn’t allowed
Whereas smoking in the office was okay several decades ago, it certainly isn’t that way anymore. It should be the same way with offensive jokes and comments. Fortunately, BIPOC, female, and LGBTQ+ colleagues are no longer expected to laugh self-consciously and just ignore dehumanizing remarks. Make sure that there are well-established and widely known processes within your Human Resources department where employees can take their complaints and report abuse should it occur.
When looking for employees, keep your mission and impact front and center
Silicon Valley’s iconic campuses set the bar high with gyms, chef-led cafeterias, and childcare. But competing for talent in the nonprofit drives successful recruiters to a deeper understanding of why certain segments of the talent pool seek to affiliate with nonprofits: these recruiters celebrate the intangible but meaningful opportunities to “make a difference.”
Be flexible with where you allow employees to work from
Even for teams that met their annual goals through Zoom, the increasing rate of vaccinations provides neither a basis nor a rationale to require a return to physical offices. Younger workers who already experienced the flexibility of working from home just demonstrated that effectiveness is not a function of whether or not your supervisor can see you working. For those nonprofits and other enterprises that survived and even thrived in the midst of the most life-altering public health crisis in a century, process bowed to results. And though camaraderie achieved through an office environment is important, it has proved to not be a compelling enough reason for people to roll out of bed and commute every single day. Give your employees the chance to retain the flexibility the pandemic dictated – a healthy work-life balance makes the whole organization better.
Future success for HR and the nonprofit sector’s quest for talent means accepting the evidence that remote work actually works, that flexibility is an intangible fringe benefit that is valued by those who want to make a difference and that effectiveness is determined by how one works rather than by the clothes they wear to the space in which they function.
By Lea Ann Skogsberg. Lea Ann is a Personal Fundraising Consultant with Network for Good based in the Chicago area.