Cultivating Resiliency & Wellness in the Nonprofit Workplace 

Author: Alda Merino-Caan – Lead Strategist, Center for Nonprofit Management

Today, at Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Nonprofit Management Institute, Thriving through Change, CNM lead strategist Alda Merino-Caan offers perspectives on enhancing nonprofit employee wellbeing. Highlighted below, Alda shares some of those insights ahead of the conference. 

Amid the combined challenges of pandemic, social unrest, and a dynamic nonprofit landscape, the sector’s strength is undeniably rooted in the well-being of its most valuable asset: its people. While nonprofits’ daily mission is to create a positive impact on society, the crucial aspect of workplace wellness is often overlooked.

Here are three considerations for nonprofit leaders around cultivating workplace wellness and wellbeing:

1. Leadership’s Influence on Mental Wellness: Nonprofit leaders wield substantial influence over the mental wellness of their staff. A global study spanning 10 countries found that managers’ impact on employees’ mental health rivals that of their spouses (both at 69%), surpasses that of doctors (51%), and even exceeds that of therapists (41%).

2. Prioritizing Mental Wellness and Autonomy: Prospective employees seeking job opportunities prioritize mental wellness and autonomy over their time. A national employee benefits study revealed that 80% of parents consider flexibility and work-life balance as the most crucial factors in a job opportunity. Flexible work schedules rank as the top requested benefit after health insurance. Remarkably, these preferences resonate significantly with Millennials, Gen Z, and parents. Moreover, offering flexible work hours can contribute to reducing the gender wage gap.

3. Active Encouragement for Benefit Utilization: Employees need active encouragement to make use of their time-related benefits, such as paid time off (PTO), parental leave, family care leave, and bereavement leave. Concerns like the pressure to be perpetually available at work, the fear of falling behind, or the dread of a post-vacation workload pile-up often lead to underutilization of these benefits. Organizations can counter these fears by implementing full-company breaks, where the entire organization takes time off together, requiring leaders to set an example by taking time off themselves, and encouraging staff to take occasional breaks in addition to traditional vacation periods during summer and holidays.

By embracing these considerations, nonprofit organizations can help foster a resilient and impactful workforce dedicated to creating positive change in society.

Want a deeper dive into workplace wellness?

Learn how to support mental health, improve communication, and build resilience in your nonprofit workplace at CNM’s virtual seminar on October 19. 

About the Author

alda merino caan Cultivating Resiliency & Wellness in the Nonprofit Workplace 

In her strategist role, Alda engages in research and evaluation, capacity strengthening, and consulting around organizational assessment and development, strategic planning, process and impact evaluation, and serving community-identified priorities. As an attorney and human rights advocate with a background in grassroots community organizing and international collaboration, Alda brings a diverse perspective to her work with CNM. Learn more about Alda.

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