GOOD Magazine recently had an issue on work. Some interesting job perks I found perusing the online version of the article. Some of the perks support people who are working at the company for philosophical reasons and other honor family life in very admirable ways:
- At Google, new parents get more than maternity leave: up to $500 of reimbursements for take-out when their newborn’s needs mean no time for home cooking.
- Patagonia offers an employee internship program, allowing workers to take paid time off to intern at the environmental nonprofit of their choice.
- Trader Joe’s has a company-paid retirement plan that automatically pays an amount equal to 15.4 percent of a worker’s annual income into a retirement account—without the employee having to contribute a single cent.
- Target will connect employees to “wellness coaches,” who help them lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthily, and de-stress.
- Netflix full-timers not only get unlimited rentals, but also unlimited vacation days, as long as they get their work done. (brilliant!)
Note to self: If I am ever in a position to run a company of any size, take this list to heart.
Important lesson learned: People loved to be asked to help, to volunteer, to contribute.
Kids loves to volunteer to pass out papers, to write on the board, to collect papers, to hold the door, to help another kid. Few that I’ve met have the initiative to offer help (maybe this is a developmental milestone hit later? must look into that), but any time I ask for volunteers, I usually have more than I need before I even announce what the volunteering is for!
Adults also love to help but need to be asked. People who are new to the organization, community, family, etc want to be involved and supportive but often don’t know what to do. Small projects work well and then that volunteer starts to see how the systems work and they either continue to volunteer or begin taking initiative.
This revelation is not earth shattering. You may even be reading this thinking, Yes, Vicki, all you have to do is ask. I’ve been telling you that for years. (Yes, Mom, you are right again).
But for a small, shy woman, asking is the hardest part. It is easier to for me to do everything myself rather than ask for help. But I see that the community cannot continue on my shoulders (or the shoulders of the taking-initiative few) alone; I don’t want it to. That is the whole point of community.
Though it is a little early or late, my new year’s resolution is to ASK.
Thanks to Daniel Pink, author of one of my favorite books – A Whole New Mind.
I have been, since I’ve been working, the kind of person who works until the work is done. At the office, at home, on vacation – I (most of the time) love the work I do and believe in the places/missions where I work (whoohoo – non-profits!).
This is a problem for me because there is no such thing as a 40 hour work week. I end up working more than others but still only able to officially take time off when the time is there.
Netflix has a brilliant idea! They do not track their salaried employees’ vacation days. The employees are responsible for their work and letting the management know that they aren’t in.
The idea is that freedom and responsibility, long considered fundamentally incompatible, actually go together quite well.
Personal day – fine. Kid sick – fine. Sexy get-away – fine!
When I am someday the Director of a Non-profit, I will run things like this. I try to teach like this. We parent like this for Zoë and Nathan and will for the Raspberry. David and I treat each other with freedom and responsibility. When people have freedom, I believe, and I have seen, that they keep up their responsibilities.
Maybe humans are alright after all.
I was about to write about our being in New York with David’s family and how nice it is to see the kids playing and the brothers lovingly argue with each other. But when I tried to type New York, I wrote New Work. Which is funny and a little bit of what I’ve been up to. Ok, a lot.
I’ve also been hanging around with family, doing yoga, reading blogs, reading books, singing with David, cleaning up after the PA Graffs, and feeling the baby move around.
But the work never ends. This is the risk of part time jobs from home and of working in non-profits. There is no “leave it at the office” because there is no office OR because I care to much about making the work good, that I will text my boss back at 10:41pm about a performance the next morning. And if I’m not DOing work, I’m THINKing work.
So New Work. I’m trying to transition from doing quite so much Work to doing the New Work of prepping our house for the baby. To me, this basically means oogling over craft ideas and hilarious onesies online and thinking about the time when our kitchen will be done (we are re-doing it, much needed) so I can put our house back together. And make some stuff.
Zoë can't wait to have a baby brother because of this!
Disclaimer: What I am about to say is not meant to be criticism of any non-profit where I do or have worked. Rather, it is my personal observation. I know that I must be the change I want to see.
I have worked at a few non-profits. I have loved it, been excited when I was hired, done great work, and really felt like I was making a difference.
I have also felt, at those same non-profits, that we were all getting so caught up in the internal politics (though the organizations were small), the lack of sufficient funding or time, and the imbalances in commitment, that we lost our focus and our own connection to the mission.
How can I do good work at a theatre company if I have lost my inspiration and creativity somewhere in the administrative mess and meetings? How I can make a difference to the kids I’m teaching theatre and creativity to if I have lost my own creativity and active working in theatre? Change is difficult even at a small organization. Self-observation is as well.
This great article from the Stanford Social Innovation Review about what the author calls the Non-Profit Paradox – how mental health organizations get caught up in unhealthy intra-organizational relationships and how anti-terror organizations get stuck with terrorizing bosses. But he also offers a way to self-reflect and make it better so we can all contentedly do the work we are at our non-profits to do!