Friday, November 4, 2011

Inspiration in the nonprofit workforce

Are you inspired about your work? Do you feel engaged with the mission of your organization? Do you feel recognized and/or rewarded for the work you do for your organization?

In the last two days, two chance meetings and two articles made me think about “inspiration in the work place” and our personal role in our own happiness. Think about how these four items relate to you and your organization.
  1. The Chronicle of Philanthropy ( reported on research data from 3,500 nonprofit workers in New York and Washington that showed many were not happy in their jobs.
  2. The same day I discovered Leo Babauta ( posted a blog he titled The Little Guide to Inspiration.
  3. This information was in my head as I went to lunch. Three “construction guys” asked if the could share the table with me. We were talking about the great weather when one of them looked at me and said “I bet you hate going back to work at your office, right?” I took his comment as “I must hate my job as he did his” so he seemed surprised when I told him no.
  4. After lunch, I was paying a parking attendant at the airport and mentioned the great weather. She beamed and started talking about how happy she was. “I just got back from vacation so I’m getting back into the work mode. I’m 78 and so happy to be able to work.”

So, how do all these relate to you as an employee and/or “boss”?

Early in my career, college PR guru Art Cievrvo told a group of us that there are three kinds of people: The Wills, the Won’ts and the Can’ts. He urged us to be and to work with those who were “Wills.” I never forgot that lesson.

Here are two lessons/lists for your consideration:

First, our personal ability to impact our own emotions and our happiness at work. Well, check out this awesome “sources of inspiration” Leo offered ... Great list!
  • I might add “looking out the window and seeing the brilliant fall colors
  • Or, thinking about the nature we experience during our annual family fishing adventure in Ontario
  • What can you add? What gives you inspiration on a gloomy day?

Second, our ability to impact the atmosphere were we work.
  • As an owner, I had the ability to establish the overall atmosphere within our company.
  • I was able to provide flex time (one of the most important benefits in the eyes of my staff); we established a “cause a quarter” to join together to support causes the staff nominated; we provided a “gas tank topoff” where the staff “gassed up” cars of unemployed members of Businesspeople Between Jobs.
  • What is your organization doing to create an inspirational work place? Please suggest items here.

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