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Why do your staff show up? Staff motivations, needs, and priorities

I recently attended a two-part mindfulness-based counselling workshop: Working with Couples from a Hakomi Perspective, offered by Hakomi Edmonton.

While this may not sound like it would directly connect to work at Volunteer Alberta, I was curious how this mindfulness approach to interpersonal relationships might relate to nonprofit staff management and brought back some insights to share with our staff.

How can staff find connection, security, and freedom at work?

triangleOne of the tools we looked at during the workshop is the Connectedness-Security-Freedom balance. In couples’ counselling, it’s helpful to explore what connectedness, security, and freedom in a relationship look like to each person, and what each person tends to value the most.

This relationship lens can be applied to nonprofit staff.

We all assess how well our jobs meet our needs based on factors like income, interest, passion, benefits, flexibility, location, colleagues, workplace culture, and so on. Some of these things are more important than others, based on who we are and the current demands of our lives.

What do these needs and priorities look like in the workplace?

Connectedness – Feeling connected to our work might include our passion, motivation, or investment in a cause or project. It could also mean strong relationships with our colleagues or clients.

Security – Job security, income, benefits, and opportunities for advancement  all provide security. But there are other subtle ways our jobs offer us security, like friendly and supportive workplace culture, or good reputations in our communities.

Freedom – Having freedom at work might mean pursuing projects that interest us, or having input at decision-making tables. It can also include flexibility, vacation time, and even succession planning to make it less difficult to move on from our jobs when the time comes.

Reminder: staff will relate to the Connectedness-Security-Freedom balance differently

  • Staff will define connectedness, security, and freedom differently
  • Staff will rank the importance and priority of each differently
  • Staff communicate their needs and priorities differently
  • Staff react differently when they aren’t getting what they need at work

What might this look like at your organization?

happy-hipster

A staff member who puts freedom first might jump at the chance to guide a new project or start a social enterprise for your organization. They might also be happy to forego the security of higher pay for more vacation time or flexibility.

A staff member who puts security before connectedness might be okay working on something they aren’t passionate about as long as the job is a full-time, permanent position.

On the other hand, someone who values connectedness over security might speak from their heart about an issue they are passionate about in staff meetings, even if doing so could put their job security at risk.

If the Connectedness-Security-Freedom balance aligns with nonprofit staff management, now what?

The Connectedness-Security-Freedom balance is a powerful tool to begin to get to know what motivates different staff so that you can meet their needs and support their success.

There isn’t a cookie cutter solution for how to motivate your staff to do their best. It typically isn’t possible to recruit or retain every person with the same perks and benefits, so knowing what staff members value is useful when you have limited resources.

Questions you might ask include:

Is a staff member more motivated by taking control of a project, or are they happy to work on what you give them as long as they can count on consistency?

Would they prefer a better benefits package, or the ability to work from home?

2-attrib-wocintechFor team members, it can also be helpful to understand what is important to your colleagues. Knowing where people are coming from and acknowledging differences can go a long way in combatting assumptions, confusion, and frustration.

With this tool, your staffs’ motivations may be becoming more clear to you. What questions would you still like to ask the people you work with?

Think of how you could apply the Connectedness-Security-Freedom balance in year-end staff reviews or in your hiring process. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Sam Kriviak
Volunteer Alberta

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Happy swing

Organizational Well-being Starts with Staff

A major component for organizational well-being is staff well-being. With nice weather, longer days, and often a change of gears to match the change in season, summer is a great time to experiment with new approaches to staff wellness.

At Volunteer Alberta, we strive to support staff well-being in a variety of ways. While we are always growing and improving, here are 3 ideas we have already implemented that you might want to borrow!


1. Vacation Time

Jump with JoyWe have a generous vacation / time-off policy. As a nonprofit, one way we can stay competitive is with paid time-off as part of our staff compensation package. We can provide staff with time to rest, relax, explore, and recharge and create a workplace culture that values work-life balance. After all, I want to bring my ‘whole self’ to work, and that is made much easier when I have the time to grow and develop personally, as well as professionally.

Part of our staff vacation time includes the summer bonus of extra long weekends from May until September. Anytime we have a long weekend during the summer months, we add an extra day of office closure. This works out to four extra days our staff have to enjoy away from the office and to get the most out of the season.

2. In-Office Yoga

Part of my ‘whole self’ includes my training as a yoga teacher. As a new teacher, I needed an opportunity to practice teaching. Luckily for me, many of my colleagues were willing participants! Teaching yoga at the office has the mutual benefit of supporting my personal development, giving me a chance to practice professional skills, and creating great value-add for other staff. Plus, I find it fulfilling to support the mental and physical well-being of my colleagues. It has been a great opportunity to build community and de-stress on Friday’s at lunch, and, of course, it’s optional so no one feels pressured to join in.

3. Take Advantage of our Surroundings

RestaurantOur office happens to be in the heart of downtown. We are next to restaurants and bars with great summer patios, as well as Edmonton’s river valley. Going to a patio with colleagues after work is an excellent way to end a work day – soaking up sunshine, relaxing, and building friendships. Staff also bring our meetings to our neighbourhood cafés, restaurants, and patios for a change of scenery and to embrace a casual, creative way of working together. Some staff members have even tried out walking meetings to get outside.


While these are my favourite ways Volunteer Alberta supports staff well-being, there are other ways as well. Staff benefits, flexible work hours, professional development opportunities, and sharing our lunchtime together are also positive influences on Volunteer Alberta’s well-being, individually and as an organization.

What kind of work environment would feel satisfying and promote wellness at your office?

No workplace, or office culture, is quite the same. This is especially true in our diverse sector: different peak times, staff sizes, volunteer involvement, facilities, communities, the list goes on. For this reason, activities that promote well-being for your staff need to be responsive to your nonprofit’s current reality and future goals.

What is your organization doing already to promote well-being in the summer and year-round? What ideas would you like to try out? Let me know in the comments!

 

Sam Kriviak
Volunteer Alberta

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Volunteers Promovo - Smiling Senior

Seven Habits of Highly Well People

Guest post from our partners at OASSIS.

In our busy lives, it can be easy to neglect our health. This is especially true in the nonprofit sector where our attention and energy is most often directed to the clients we serve.

It’s important to remember that being healthy and taking care of our self is not a selfish act. In fact, being in top shape is the best thing we can do for those we work with and work for.

So how can we work towards better health? We are sharing seven healthy habits for healthier lifestyles. Start by choosing one manageable habit to work towards on your own – or, even better, to focus on as an office!

1. Exercise regularly

Promovo Community - Biking TogetherBeing physically active is one of the best things we can do for our health. Exercise does not have to be as daunting or time consuming as you might think. Being active for 30 min each day is recommended; however, this can be broken down into short, 10 min intervals. It can be as simple as going for a walk during the lunch hour, doing a few strength training exercises during TV commercial breaks, or completing 10 min of yoga or stretching in the morning before work. Try having a walking meeting to get your whole office active!

2. Eat more vegetables and fruits

Canada’s food guide recommends 7-8 servings of vegetables and fruits for adult women and 8-10 servings for adult men. Ensuring you have a vegetable or fruit with every meal, including snacks, is an easy way to sneak more of these nutrient-dense foods into your diet. Adding blueberries to morning cereal, carrots and hummus for a snack, and a brightly-coloured side salad to lunch and dinner are a few quick examples. Keep this in mind when ordering catering for staff or an event!

3. Get 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night.

Adequate sleep aids in both our physical and mental restoration. It helps keep our immune system in tip-top shape and supplies us with a full tank of energy to deal with daily stresses. For better sleep, make sure your bedroom is a sleep-optimal environment: Control for noise and light disturbances, and ensure a cool temperature and proper ventilation. If you can, make an office-wide rule to not answer any agency emails or phone calls after a certain hour.

4. Avoid smoking

Group of friendsCigarettes are the leading cause of lung cancer, and linked to heart disease and respiratory disease. The good news is, once you quit smoking, the damage can become near reversible. If you’re looking for help with smoking cessation, Health Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society and Smokers Hotline all provide excellent resources. If a few of your organization’s staff smoke, try quitting together.

5. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Over indulgence in alcohol has been linked to heart disease, liver disease, and various types of cancer. To avoid the associated health risks, follow the consumption guidelines set out by Health Canada: Women should limit alcoholic beverages to a maximum of 9 per week and men to a maximum of 14, not exceeding more than 2 drinks per day. If after-work drinks are a big part of your office culture, consider other fun activities you and your coworkers could do together.

6. Maintain close and positive social connections

Studies show that people with strong social connections are more likely to have better cognitive and physical health. Maintain close ties with friends and family, get involved in our community, and seek professional support when necessary. Make time for bonding and friendships at your office – have lunch together, or make an effort to learn something new about your colleagues.

7. Limiting stress

SillyResearch has demonstrated that high amounts of stress and the perception that stress impacts heath are associated with poor physical and mental health, along with an increased risk of premature death. Individuals who cope well with stress are better able to reduce their risk. For stress-busting techniques focus on deep breathing, meditation, and positivity training. Don’t treat stress like an inevitable part of work at your office and make sure you and your colleagues support each other through stressful times.

 


OASSIS is an employee benefit plan provider for the nonprofit sector. OASSIS created a partnership with Tri Fit Inc. to provide wellness programs and resources free of charge to all plan members. Tri Fit Inc. is Canada’s leading provider of workplace fitness and wellness programs.

For more information on OASSIS Benefits Plans please visit www.oassisplan.com and for more information on Tri Fit Inc. please visit www.trifit.com.

oassis blog trifit

Audio: FAQs About Employee Benefits for Nonprofit Organizations

oassis_newVolunteer Alberta has a partnership with OASSIS, a nonprofit organization providing employee benefit plans specifically designed for the nonprofit sector. Members of Volunteer Alberta receive exclusive access to OASSIS benefit plans in Alberta.

Karen Bentham, Executive Director for OASSIS, recently sat down with us to discuss some frequently asked questions about employee benefits.

Guest Blog: Community Giving Program Helps Nonprofits Achieve Their Goals

oassis_newGrant programs seem to be getting scarcer by the day. Many organizations rely on project funding to allow them to carry out the good work that they do in their communities. One grant program that you may not be aware of is Green Shield Canada’Community Giving Program.

The Community Giving Program provides funding to community-based, nonprofit organizations to help them achieve success with their goals. Green Shield Canada accepts applications from Canadian nonprofit organizations and charitable organizations registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) each year.  The online application link for their Community Giving Program is posted on their website and applications are due by March 15 each year. All nonprofit organizations can apply for funding; there is no need to be a Green Shield client. Green Shield’s objective is to provide funding annually for projects that:

  • Address an under-serviced or under-funded subject, geographic region or demographic
  • Outline clear, measurable outcomes with demonstrable results
  • Include a strategy to address projects’ longer term sustainability

OASSIS is proud to partner with Green Shield Canada as our health and dental provider.   In 2013, eight OASSIS agencies were funded through the GSC program for a total of $158,650 in grants.

For additional information and to apply for funding, please visit the Community Giving Program website.

Karen Bentham, Executive Director, OASSIS

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