The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership offered more opportunities to learn and be promoted than the nonprofit job Aulffo left for.
Aulffo left her job at the nonprofit in December. She believed in the group’s mission. She is also interested in her own career. The group’s flat organizational structure meant there were few opportunities for advancement, and she felt that working remotely during the Pandemic had impeded opportunities for mentoring.
I felt like I was going to be in the same pay range until I reached the next level. She says it could be five or more years down the road. You want your work to reflect your skills.
She left her job at the nonprofit in December. The group’s mission was something she was passionate about. She is also interested in her career. The group’s flat organizational structure meant there were few opportunities for advancement and she felt working remotely during the Pandemic had impeded opportunities for mentoring.
I felt like I would be in the same pay range until I reached the next level. She says it might be five or more years down the road. You want your work to reflect your skills.
Aulffo just received her master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University and is excited about her new job at the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership. Her values are important to her and she says her new workplace reflects that.
She says that whatever you tie yourself to is a reflection of who you are. I would prefer to work in a place that supports my morals.
Aulffo is one of millions of younger nonprofit employees who think differently about work. Mandi Stewart is an associate professor of public administration at the North Carolina State University and she says that nonprofits would be smart to pay attention to. Since the beginning of the year, the largest generation in the work force has been the young people in their twenties.
Jasmine Johnson is an associate professor of public policy and administration at George Washington University who teaches aspiring nonprofit professionals and studies younger workers.
They are less likely to stay there for a long time. She says that they value diversity more than earlier generations and are more interested in work-life balance. They want their values to be seen in the workplace as much as they are in the rest of their lives. Because of the large amount of student debt young workers carry, pay is important as is the ability to grow and learn within an organization.
Can I get more experience? Is it possible to move up in the organization? Johnson said so.
If the pay is not what they think it should be they can be quick to leave. If they have a bad experience with their supervisor, they will leave.
Who is going to do that?
Some employers don’t like the demands of younger workers. The Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, a group that offers programs for young people in Chicago, has hired younger leaders who won’t do any work or check email after hours, according to the group’s executive director. She says work-life balance is great, but there needs to be flexibility to respond to crises.
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Who is going to do that if you aren’t? I have to carry that slack for younger workers because their sense of work-life balance is so strong that they aren’t willing to do crisis management.
According to Libbie Landles- Cobb, a partner at the consulting firm Bridgespan, it can be easy to get frustrated with younger employees. A culture that rewards self-sacrifice can cause executives who worked hard to be tempted to overlook the needs of younger workers. She says that before demanding sacrifice from others, leaders need to ask themselves what the value is in systems of inequity and overwork.
Every demand can be met by nonprofits. Being transparent about what isn’t possible and how changes to the workplace might affect the mission of the organization are more important than granting every request. Some of the biases that leaders have about work culture need to be reconsidered. She says that we need to be more creative and more open-minded in order to make some changes.
Flexibility is a prize.
Free Arts is in Arizona and has a development officer named Tenneille. The organization’s mission of helping abused children through the arts and flexibility have been the two things she has come to appreciate most.
She had to decide how much she wanted to work in the office and at home. She decided to work from home on Wednesdays after a few attempts. When her boyfriend told her to stop, she kept working until 9 pm.
She says that mentalizing helps her maintain her work-life balance. I like having a slower pace in the middle of the week because I still have my workaholic tendencies. She can change the days as she pleases. I don’t feel right.
If she ever left the organization, she couldn’t imagine being required to be in the office all the time. She says that they tasted what hybrid working can be like. I think it would be foolish for an employer to not give that flexibility in the future.
Nonprofit employees aren’t afraid to question the organization’s policies.
Stewart from North Carolina State says that the kind of autonomy that Choi has can make a difference for younger workers who are more likely to question the organization’s policies. If young workers are forced to go back to work, they want to know why.
She says if an employer asks staff to work from the office again but they just commute in to do calls all day, they will question whether it makes sense.
She asks, what is the motivation for being together?
Employers being weeded out.
Johnson says a nonprofit’s approach to DEI is an important factor for many young workers when looking for a job. She says that young people are more open about how they identify and are more used to interacting with people with different identities than older workers are. If you’re walking the talk, they’re able to detect it.
Some of her students are making their identities clear on their résumés. She says that when she was a student, it was frowned on, but that students now see things differently. They put their names on their resume. The student wouldn’t want to work for the organization if they had an identity issue.
The values of communication, transparency, and respecting boundaries are important to her in both her personal and professional lives, and that is why Free Arts is a good fit for her. She sees them play out in the workplace.
Our team has worked well together. I adore all of those values for myself.
The June 1, 2022, issue contained a version of the article.
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The work and careers of an executive.
Jim Rendon is a senior writer for the Chronicle. If you want to follow Jim on social media, email him.