Is your organization feeling the vibe?
Are you engaged, happy, and productive at work? A positive working environment and culture may be one of the top factors determining whether or not an organization will succeed in their mission.
Positive organizations are more productive, healthier, and attractive as an employer. Harvard Business Review reported that not only do positive companies that engage employees have much lower absenteeism (by 37%), but they have half as many accidents, less than half as many product errors, half as many health costs, and half as much turnover. They also have 100% more people applying to work for them.
Nonprofits often look for passion when hiring employees or screening volunteers–seeking people that care about the cause. But, passion should be positively charged in order to be truly effective. Positivity is by definition “the state or character of being positive.” It is an action. It is a choice.
Nonprofit schools and organizations need positively passionate people that not only care, but practice optimism and believe in the success of the cause. Positivity is so critical to success that it might even be more important to hire a person with fewer skills over a negative person with decades of experience. Just one negative person in the team can bring down the whole office!
Why a positive culture matters especially for non-profits
Nonprofit organizations have specific benefits to creating positive work environments:
- Happier partners. When your team is happier, and the office and program vibes are happier as a result, nonprofit beneficiaries are happier.
- More volunteers. More people will apply for jobs within the organization, attracting better talent, and more people will also apply to be volunteers. The more volunteers an organization has–and the broader their depth of experience and talent–the more successful it will be.
- Creates a culture of success. Nonprofits do not always succeed in their mission due to many challenges. Positive organizations focus on the successes as opposed to the failures, from the bottom up, and in every analysis.
Tips to bring positivity to your organization
- Positive Leadership. The first step in creating a positive culture is for management and leadership to practice positivity. Siegfried Hoenle, an expert in positive psychology, explains that organizational leaders can promote positive vibes just by:
- Focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. They do not focus on the fact that a fundraising goal for an event was not exceeded; rather they celebrate wins like 50 new volunteers recruited and an improved donor experience. They also encourage their employees to use their strengths to bolster the entire team.
- Challenging and supporting their staff and volunteers. Positive leaders are empathetic listeners that support their workers. They take the time to check in with staff every day and be their go to resource to talk about their successes and their anxieties alike. They also challenge them to want to be the best, by encouraging skills development in their areas of strength.
- Screen when hiring or bringing on volunteers. Your nonprofit may not be asking the right questions in interviews or volunteer questionnaires to screen for positivity. Create a simple positivity scale for each answer and note at what level your interviewee ranks. Also take the time to call past staff and use that same scale!
- Create a social and fun workplace. Staff and volunteers will be happier, and more positive, if work is fun and has a social aspect. Take everyone out to lunch (or call in takeout) at least once a month, celebrate birthdays, go hiking as a team sometimes, promote bring your pet to work day, or just send goofy emails every once and a while.
- Live your mission. Only 16% of nonprofit employees are with the job for the money–nearly all are there for their passion for the mission. Especially for those admin employees stuck behind desks, it is important to foster a spirit of involvement beyond your daily work output goals. If you are a green organization, you can give recognition for employees that ride bikes to work; or organize tree plantings with local partners, for example. The key is to take the time and put energy into creating energy that supports passion for your mission.
Positivity is infectious and it all starts with you.
In short, it’s easy to create a positive culture–if you choose to practice positivity within your organization! You will not only increase your productivity and results, but your whole team will be happier in the process.