Maybe people can't have work-life balance at nonprofit organizations.

Nonprofit Work-Life Balance

Speaking of work-life balance, I was just reading an article in The Next Web, written by Richard Walton. I think it has some take-home points for small to mid-size organizations with whom I work. The title is “Why We Need to Shatter the Illusion of Work-life Balance for Entrepreneurs.”

What is work life balance for idealist organizations? Behind the glass door, it can be difficult. The importance and urgency of the mission often overshadow any satisfaction index. There’s an assumption that people signed on for this when they work for, volunteer for, even donate to. In the short run, there may be some truth to this. People roll up their sleeves and ride out the energy. But that’s unsustainable. Intentionally or unintentionally, this evolves into organizations taking advantage of people. Staff, volunteers, donors will ultimately have to choose what’s more important to them and their family. This is why there is so much turnover in nonprofit workplaces. THere’s no time or money for touchy-feely lifeworks.

Richard Walton writes that work/life balance is impossible as an entrepreneur. I think this may be true for small to mid-sized organizations as well. Instead, consider the life of your people. Work toward a level of satisfaction in the workplace and support for life outside it. There’s some great suggestions in there that I think you should see. Because successful organizations pay attention to how they make others feel.

One of the work life balance tips that capture my imagination is moveable plant walls. Was I a non-profit executive struggling with an over-extended staff, I’d grab a couple pallets from a nearby warehouse ($0). If you’re inclined, pick up some casters at the local hardware store ($10). Bring this into the office and ask everyone to donate a plant ($0). Send an email to board members and ask the same ($0). The effect of greenery in the workplace is well accepted. Plant contributions will create buy-in and conversation. The ability to roll it from one place in the office to the other will introduce an element of play. It would pay off.

Need help thinking through satisfaction in your organization? Send me your email and I’ll contact you soon.