Sponsored by Oregon Business

Compare and contrast

| Print |  Email
Thursday, October 01, 2009

candc_1Two important themes emerged in a comparison of the inaugural 100 Best Nonprofits survey and those from the 100 Best Company survey: The two groups of employees are very similar in the importance they place on what makes a great workplace, but their satisfaction levels with several key issues are very different.

The 6,700 employees who participated in the 100 Best Nonprofits survey and the workers who participated in this year’s 100 Best Companies survey all ranked satisfaction and importance of 50 workplace qualities in six categories: benefits and compensation; work environment; decision-making and trust; performance management; and career development and learning. (Ten questions on sustainable practices were surveyed but not used to rank Nonprofits or Companies. The responses to those questions are used to rank the 100 Best Green Companies.) Because many of the same questions were asked in the two surveys, responses were easily compared among employees of these two business sectors.

Employees in the Nonprofits and Companies surveys reported virtually no differences in what workplace qualities were important to them, with the exception of two questions. Nonprofit employees’ rated slightly higher the importance of “fairness for differing racial, gender, sexual-orientation, or disability groups” and of the “organization’s broader support for the community.”

These were not major differences, but were the most noticeable among all of the workplace qualities. As one employee noted about his nonprofit employer: “The management team is great and is made up of both men and women. Women are held in equal esteem as men. The board is equally balanced between men and women.”

As a whole, employees in the nonprofit survey assigned their highest importance ratings to two workplace variables: “treatment of employees by supervisors,” and “pride and belief in the organization.” The latter item clearly reflects the mission-driven quality of nonprofit organizations and their employees, while the former speaks for itself. Nonprofit employees assessed all workplace characteristics to be of relatively high importance.

While importance ratings were highly consistent in this survey and differences between both groups of employees on areas of importance were quite small, there was a much bigger difference between the groups with the satisfaction ratings of the 50 workplace qualities.

Nonprofit employees were most satisfied with having “clear understanding of the organization’s mission and purpose,” “fairness for differing racial, gender, sexual-orientation, or disability groups,” and “pride and belief in the organization.” As noted earlier, the latter was also one of the most important aspects for employees. One employee commented, “There is a sense of family and pride in the work that we do, we work hard and have a fun time doing it.”

candc_2By contrast, nonprofit employees rated their least satisfaction with “opportunities for increases in pay and benefits,” “rewards for top performance,” and “timely discipline and termination of poor performers.” The lowest satisfaction ratings were around compensation structures, but it’s important to note that nonprofit employees were making a distinction between opportunities for financial growth and learning versus their actual compensation.

Many of the largest differences between employees in the 100 Best Nonprofits survey and those in the 100 Best Companies survey were in career development and learning, not benefits and compensation. While many nonprofit employees saw career development and learning (including opportunities for increases in pay based on performance) as an area in which their employers can improve, employees in this sector demonstrate strong mission-driven dedication to the organizations in which they are employed.

These employees value, and feel they experience the benefits of, a flexible work environment that allows for the balancing of work and family life, which promotes fairness toward workers from all groups, advances a commitment to the betterment of the community, and promotes sustainable practices.

Through the results of this survey employees are telling a story to their nonprofit employers that they want more dialogue about how best to retain their highly qualified staff. This includes opportunities for pay increases, performance-based promotions and rewards, acknowledgment by management for performance, and the organization’s commitment to general career and salary advancements.

Adam Davis and Su Midghall are principals at Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall, a Portland-based research firm. DHM is the research partner with Oregon Business in the 100 Best projects.


More Articles

Reader Input: School Choice

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Which of the following would be most effective in reducing the cost of operating a public university in Oregon?


Have a baby and keep a job? It won’t be easy in Portland

The Latest
Friday, October 02, 2015
100115kimblogthumbBY KIM MOORE

Our intrepid (and expecting) research editor finds the child care search involves long waiting lists, costly fees and no certainty of securing a place before she goes back to work.


Counterpoint: CLT not as green as people think

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
photo-flickr-glasseyes viewthymbBY GREGG LEWIS | OP-ED

The issue of green-washing remains a significant challenge to those of us who would like to see the building sector in this country do more than make unverifiable claims of sustainability. Transparency about the impacts of a given material is the only way to allow designers to make intelligent choices when selecting building products.


Grain Food

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Power Lunch at Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Restaurant.


Aim High

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

We get the education we deserve.


Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


The List: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Oregon Business magazine’s seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For project attracted more than 150 nonprofits from around the state from a variety of sectors, including social services and environmental advocacy.  More than 5,000 employees and volunteers filled out the survey, rating their satisfaction with work environment, mission and goals, career development and learning, benefits and compensation, and management and communications.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02