we h8 our jobs

1987 was a great year. We’re talking 61% overall job satisfaction and “Walk Like An Egyptian” topped the Billboard charts. Plus, it was the year of the Toaster strudel, and who doesn’t love toaster strudel?

We’ll tell you who doesn’t: job haters.

No matter what you give them, these naysaying job haters just can’t get excited about their work. And in fact, they really aren’t as uncommon as we'd like to think. Every year since 1987, the Board (NY based nonprofit) has run a job satisfaction survey. The sweet 61.1% has slipped over time, reaching an all-time low in 2010 (following the Great Recession), with only 42.6% of workers claiming job satisfaction. 'So what,' you say. 'We pay our staff really well and they LOVE our mission.' But don’t rely on people staying put just because you’re dishing out a paycheck and serving a great cause. We’re a resilient population of stressed out, burnt out workers. Once hiring picks up and the opportunity presents itself, your top employees might be ready to take the next best offer.

But what really makes us happy and fulfilled at work? The answer goes way beyond compensation.

The last 15 years have seen dismally low rates of job satisfaction and startlingly high rates of turnover. We’re just not that into what we do. For the first time in our country’s history, it looks like the “next generation” will not be inheriting a platform for building a better life but rather will be stepping into a sticky pile of their predecessor’s faults and errors.

Are you in the 42.6% that's unhappy at work? Is your staff? Worried about turnover? Well, read on friends, because these simple shifts in thinking can help us create better work environments, reduce turnover and help us love, (or at least like) our jobs.


Do you like to be micro-managed? Neither does the average employee. Sure, management is necessary but it’s also critical for employees to feel like they have some say.

Autonomy allows for employees to become intrinsically motivatedthe desire to do something for its own sake. When we feel like we have choice, we enjoy what we’re doing more, become more creative problem solvers, process information more deeply and are more likely to persist in the face of difficulty.

Don’t think about autonomy as fully relinquishing control, but rather as an opportunity to allow your employees’ skillset to shine. If management sets the goals (which is most often the case), allow employees to decide HOW they will reach the goal. This feeling will provide the fuel for the intrinsic fire. The heightened sense of control can only benefit performance.

When the job is done- both your organization and your employee will reap the benefits.


Sure, it’s not realistic for nonprofit organizations to become Silicon Valley corporate meccas complete with sleeping pods, swing sets, private chefs and bosu balls on the loose.

Creating culture at an oft-budget-strapped nonprofit can be tough but it’s necessary. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here- but do take time to consider what kind of low budget practices you can instate that will really help foster your employees' creativity and happiness.

A successful nonprofit culture is about growth and bonding, embracing professional development opportunities, and (we know you’re wincing here) waiting on sending that email that can wait for business hours (yes, outlining better boundaries, is a part of creating better cultural practices). Be transparent without being overbearing. Share your victories and even your struggles. After all, we’re all in this together, right? Bring weekly meetings back into the picture, take feedback, embrace change and empower your employees.


Can we get honest here? Nonprofits need to invest in better management practices.

Some of us in the nonprofit sector could use some serious management coaching.  We get it, overtaxed and under-compensated management is often a pretty thankless job, but there’s just no excuse for poor leadership practices. 

So, we’ve already figured out that cold hard cash isn’t the number one reason we run for the hills. According to a recent Gallup poll of more than one million employed U.S. workers, a bad boss or supervisor tops the charts at number one. And poor leadership is the primary reason your all-star performers are starting to shift their gaze. Don’t leave your leaders and employees in an eye-rolling employment rut.

Consider an intervention if things are all over the place in the your nonprofit. It’s time to analyze the politics of your workplace.


Seriously here, are we suggesting that technology is a fix for employee morale? Well, it’s definitely a start.  And while we aren’t necessarily advocating handing out iPhones like candy, there’s more to employee tech than, a computer with an Internet connection. And let’s be honest here, this is nonprofit. We all know that SOME of you out there are barely graduating from DOS.

Sit down with your team and figure out what tech tools you need to invest in order to make everybody’s jobs more effective. Do you have a CRM technology?  Is your staff able to communicate with each other and clients quickly? Is your donation platform integrated and mobile-ready? All of these can significantly boost productivity AND morale.

Often times, especially in the nonprofit sector, we settle on sub-standard technology in order to stretch our dollars. If overhead is low that means we can do more good, right? Not always. Investing in technology isn’t only going to make your employees happier and more efficient. It will send the message to your staff: your job is worth the investment.  

If you don’t equip your employees with the proper tech they need to get the job done, you’re setting your entire organization up for failure.

So, what’s the next step? Rome wasn’t built in a day, but by acknowledging that we’ve got a major, “I hate my job” epidemic on our hands is a good starting point. We hope these tips are a good start on creating a happier workforce. But hey, if you want more, we're happy to oblige... 

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