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We need to rethink ‘jobs’ in the social organization now!

It has to clarify that here by quoting social organizations are those entities that run their ‘business’ with a clear social mission and social impact, which includes not-for-profit organizations and also social businesses. It is not difficult to understand that jobs in social organizations are like any other jobs out there, with strict organizational rules, a hierarchy of organizational structure, job competition, and also responsibilities and duties alongside. But have you ever wondered if jobs should be done differently in social organizations? and if so then how can we do it differently?

Some of the reasons why should we rethinking jobs in social organizations are listed below:

  1. Higher turnover also exists in social organizations, which has more potentially negative implications for organizational effectiveness and overall well-being than its counterparts. According to Whelan (2002) on a survey where 42 phone interviews with Executive Directors was conducted, and the result showed that 8% of positions were vacant, and 30% were vacant four months or longer, with 24% of the vacancies being management positions. The study also found that 26% of the non-profits held on to underperforming staff and 22% postponed or canceled programs because of vacant positions. And Stefanie Gause, Altus Dynamics found in Child Welfare Services alone, the turnover was 24.26% in 2016 in America. 
  2. Huge gaps in wages and benefits can be identified between social organizations and others. It is understandable that employees earn less money than other sectors do as the organization has to prioritize money over ‘helping people’, otherwise, the public would criticize the hidden agenda of one social organization. One essay reported that compared to private sector employees, public sector employees, they indeed, attach less importance to career development opportunities and financial rewards promises in their concerned psychological contracts, and perceive these promises as less achieved.
  3. Employees in social organizations are motivated by other inducements analyzed from several studies of employees. It is reasonable to argue that people come with a strong social mission and vision to work in a social organization, and thus salary or other benefits are not their main concern. But this is totally different than it is in the private sector, where people chase after money and indeed their salary numbers can be much higher along with other benefits.
  4. Working at unusual times is the norm in social organizations, at least in Asia. There is no data showing the percentage of irregular working hours in social organizations, but based on our findings after checking up the job description, we found out that at least 40% of organizations require work at unusual times, and none of them have mentioned compensation for overtime. Another study shows that roughly 10 percent of the workforce is assigned to irregular and on-call work shift times in private sectors and 30% of them get paid, let alone in social organizations. After all, social organizations have to provide services during public holidays, usually weekends and other holidays, especially for those organizations dealing with children and family issues.

Humans are a crucial asset to social organizations, as are many other sectors. Given the hard facts shown above, we firmly believe we should rethink jobs in social organizations, to compensate for the fact that high turnover rates can lead to severe consequences, lower rates of salary and other benefits, usually working at irregular times and etc. Rethinking employment is not only about giving you a better reason to choose and to stay but also about long-lasting change both individually and systematically.

I have listed the following feasible constructive suggestions for rethinking::

  1. The system decides the structure. We should change the workplace structure from a hierarchy to a flat one. One guide clearly lists eight disadvantages of hierarchy structures, and two of them are the disconnect of employees from top-level management and the lack of autonomy that can cause strain on employee management relationships. The relationship is more desirable in social organizations, hierarchy structures impede it internally. However, a flat structure is constructed in a way that employees have a right to say and can be involved in the decision-making process to make changes. It removes excess layers of management and unnecessary procedures to improve the coordination and speed of communication between employees. Except for a flat structure, Holacracy is a more innovative structure, find out more here.
  2. Rethinking jobs/employment as apprenticeship/mentorship. We can tell there are differences between jobs/employment and apprenticeship/mentorship, even though both terms state that you work in a place and learn, and yet the mindset is significantly different among them. When it comes to apprenticeship/mentorship, there is one more layer of the relationship between two people, and work is not only about tasks and getting the job done, but also human connections to make each other a better person, while relationships are a missing part inside the term of ’employment/jobs’. Change mindsets and make jobs more humane, at least begin with social organizations.
  3. Leadership should combine with empathy. As we demonstrated in our study, employees receive less monetary benefits and work at unusual times in social organizations. So it is necessary for leaders to be more empathetic and foster a more genuine relationship, to fill the hole of monetary benefits, and turn the relationship into one of the nonmonetary benefits. It is assumed that employees are much more emotional and touchable as they choose to work in a workplace with a strong social mission, hence we should have tapped into their emotional layers to help them achieve their goals. Moreover, humans are emotional animals that need social recognition and social interaction, by giving employees more emotional properties since they choose mission over money. Otherwise, it will take them no more than a second to leave when they have to deal with ‘evil managers’.
  4. Nurturing entrepreneurship in the workplace is important in social organization. Personal development and professional development are both critical to the success of a social organization, unlike in the private sector where professional development is a major focus for the organization. Entrepreneurship is about having a systematic perspective, initiating changes, taking control of your work, engaging with the system actively, innovating ideas and etc, and most importantly, self-growth and change from inside out. Adopting entrepreneurship is an obligation and responsibility of an organization, one that changes from top to bottom and ultimately ensures that the social mission is aligned and achieved among employees.

Those are the major changes we want to see in social organizations, and these changes could also be taken as ways to retain employees. Social organizations are struggling to survive, just like their own employees. So we should create a workplace, where people are willing to work, contribute and enjoy a better life regardless of their salary and irregular work time; where people can achieve their goals and aims, no matter what obstacles they may face; where people can devote themselves and receive a better self years later; where people’s lives are meaningful and are productive in their own lives.

This article was edited by the original author without their consent, and should not be reproduced.

By Social Innovation Insight

We are the bridge of change!

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