Every morning, I get to the office, switch my phone to silent, and grab a glass of water while my laptop’s starting up. Once everything’s up and running, I check my emails and start my day. I can be overwhelmed or having an easy breezy day, but you’ll always see me smiling. Why is that?
Just like a smile is contagious, so is negativity. I make a conscious effort not to get overly pessimistic or have an irritable attitude towards my coworkers because I want to be mindful of the type of work environment I’m creating. I bring that same mindfulness to my client engagements, because I know that my nonprofit clients are usually under a ton of stress. Changing the world is hard work!
Nonprofits are established to create support for people, for social causes, for a particular belief or view. This common belief, drive, and commitment is exactly what resonates with each nonprofits’ staff members, but sometimes, in efforts to achieve that final goal, the organization forgets about the actual contributors, the people who are working day-in and day-out to reach or even surpass the goal.
Keeping that in mind, I’ve put together a few thoughts on how to keep a positive attitude at the workplace, even when things seem dire.
Helping the World Starts at Home
When empathy and support starts deteriorating in nonprofits, it’s easy for staff members to lose sight and morale for the mission they are committing themselves to. To prevent this, it’s important to practice empathy by “minding the little things,” as I call it.
At Here’s My Chance (HMC), our main purpose is to build good brands through design for the “good guys.” No matter how wrapped up we are in our work, we’re constantly asking one another simple self-care questions like “Have you had lunch?” or “Did you drink any water today?”
These tiny questions have a huge impact. They reinforce the fact that there’s a support system around every staff member every day, trying to make the stress a little lighter in any way possible!
Check in on one another, ask about a specific interest or idea a coworker may have brought up, help to reassure and remind one another what it is you’re all working towards every day. By individually supporting one another, staff members can be mentally and emotionally present and be uplifting and motivating every day, which can reflect on the produced work and achievements of your nonprofit.
Self-Care is Real!
You and I—we’re humans, we’re social creatures. We get exhausted from all of our responsibilities. To stay recharged and feeling fresh, maintaining an “active” social scene at your nonprofit is key.
Here at HMC, we practice yoga with Courtney, our awesome yoga guru, once a week. Not only does yoga reenergize and revitalize our bodies and minds, it also gives us a safe space to be present with each other sans work. Offering any positive activity recognizes hard work and reinforces a commitment to work-life balance for your team.
Because all nonprofits are thriving and trying to advance in their cause, it’s important to encourage that go-getter attitude and stellar behavior by creating an open-door policy and interactivity at your nonprofit.
Facilitate periodical luncheons, full staff meetings, or cause-related activities to promote collaboration, a fresh perspective, and a sense of belonging and importance from your nonprofit!
Every so often, nonprofits experience critical leadership transitions. During these tough times, it’s absolutely vital for a nonprofit executive to take charge and maintain standards to hold firm on the organization’s mission and values for all employees!
In September 2015, Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania (GSEP)’s CEO was selected to serve a new role in the Girl Scouts national headquarters. Kim Fraites-Dow served as Acting CEO and is now officially honored with the title, but during the transition, GSEP executives quickly identified the need to strengthen overall organizational support.
By focusing on the significance of reestablishing its core values internally, GSEP executives engaged with HMC to design a series of office posters and customizable, individual posters, which were able to boost staff morale once again!
Clearly defined values and strong leadership in a nonprofit reflect on employees and staff—they remind, encourage, and push all members to collaborate, innovate, and persevere through all circumstances. Emphasizing work-life balance and organizational core values help nonprofit members not only build the nonprofit, but also one’s own self, which reflects on everyday lives and behaviors.
So to say a big gesture or change in a nonprofit is the only way to set a standard of excellence is like saying there is only one way to make the world a better place. Whether it’s a strong leader, a happy hour, or a simple hello, there are various ways, big and small, to create a more positive, personable, and dedicated attitude at your nonprofit. Try it at yours!