A SOURCE for Tools, Advice, and Training to control risks… so you can Focus on your Nonprofit's mission.

February 15, 2012

Save the Date!

We invite you to mark your calendar with the dates of August 26-28, 2012 and plan now to attend the 2012 Risk Management & Finance Summit for Nonprofits. This year’s conference will be held in Chicago. Additional details will be announced in the weeks to come!

Happy at Work

By Melanie Lockwood Herman

Productive and engaged are words that come to mind when I picture a high-performing employee in a nonprofit. The literature on performance management is packed with advice about inspiring great performance among the members of a staff team. Some of the techniques I often cite in workshops include the generous sharing of information, eliminating “class” distinctions between employees who deliver services and those who provide internal support (finance, administration, risk management, etc.), and helping employees understand how their work advances a nonprofit’s mission. Recently I’ve become intrigued by the link between happiness and productivity. Are happy employees more productive? What should leaders do to inspire happiness at work? New research identifies factors that contribute to or detract from being happy and also highlights the link between happiness and productivity in the workplace.

In an interview featured in the January-February 2012 edition of the Harvard Business Review, Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert explains that “We know that people are happiest when they’re appropriately challenged—when they’re trying to achieve goals that are difficult but not out of reach,” adding that “People blossom when challenged and wither when threatened.” In an article titled “The Future Of Happiness Research,” doctoral student Matthew Killingsworth writes that “…no matter what people are doing, they are much less happy when their minds are wandering than when their minds are focused.” Killingsworth explains that the research refutes the belief held by some managers that “a certain amount of daydreaming is a good thing” with regard to overall employee productivity.

A challenged and focused workforce sounds productive, but is there an even more compelling determinant of happiness? Daniel Gilbert cites our social nature as the most significant predictor of personal happiness. According to Gilbert, a deep sense of connection to others—friends, co-workers, family—is the most important predictor of personal happiness.

As you reflect on the human “face” of risk in your nonprofit and the relationship between happy workers and mission fulfillment, ask:

  • Do managers offer employees truly challenging assignments or frequently set impossible or unrealistic deadlines, requirements or expectations?
  • Do supervisors help employees stay focused on mission-critical tasks and priorities, or send mixed signals about what’s important by loading everyone on the team with time-wasting projects due yesterday?
  • And, most importantly, do leaders from the board room to the front lines encourage and model kindness and appropriate social behavior to nurture trust, respect and even friendships among co-workers?

Risk management isn’t limited to keeping clients and caregivers safe from harm. The risk of an exodus of top performing staff will increase as the economy continues to improve and your competitors start hiring. Instead of waiting to discover that you’re understaffed, look for ways to make your agency an employer of choice. If you want to reap the benefits of a happy workforce, collaborate to set challenging but achievable goals, help your team focus on top priorities, and remember that socializing shouldn’t be restricted to sanctioned office holiday parties.

Melanie Lockwood Herman is Executive Director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center. She welcomes your ideas about any risk management topic, feedback on this article and questions about the Center’s resources at Melanie@nonprofitrisk.org or (202) 785-3891. The Center provides risk management tools and resources at www.nonprofitrisk.org and offers consulting assistance to organizations unwilling to leave their missions to chance.

Center AFFILIATES Join and Learn

The members, field offices, chapters and customers of our AFFILIATES enjoy access to an array of free and discounted risk resources, including complimentary viewing of this year’s First Wednesday Webinar series and unlimited technical assistance by telephone and email. Nonprofit AFFILIATES include national nonprofit federations, regional agencies, and local organizations. The nonprofit customers of for-profit AFFILIATES (brokers, background checking companies, specialty carriers, law firms, CPA firms, and management consulting firms) enjoy the same access to money-saving risk resources.

The cost to nonprofit AFFILIATES is $75 per month, and the cost to for-profit AFFILIATES is $100 per month. If only ONE of your staff, chapters, or members calls us each month or watches a single webinar, you’ll save money AND benefit in a tangible way from your membership in the only national nonprofit dedicated to helping nonprofit sector leaders become risk aware and resilient in our changing and uncertain world.

We hope you’ll visit the AFFILIATES Program webpage, peruse the list of benefits, and click to enroll. And don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions about the program or requests for new offerings or services. We look forward to serving you in the months and years ahead!

No Surprises: Harmonizing Risk & Reward in Volunteer Management—5th Edition

Now available as a 5th edition, No Surprises is the Center’s best-selling book on volunteer risk management. If your nonprofit engages volunteers to advance your mission, you’ll find practical wisdom and value in this handy reference guide, available in hard copy and eBook formats. This easy-to-read guide addresses topics ranging from volunteer screening to volunteer supervision and discipline. Authored by Melanie Herman, the Center’s executive director, No Surprises invites readers to embrace risk-taking in volunteer management while paying close attention to the nature of volunteer service, evolving volunteer roles, public relations issues involving volunteers, and much, much more. Learn more or order a copy today, here.

Policy Drafting Help is a Click Away: My Risk Management Policies

If you’re looking for help developing custom risk management policies for your nonprofit, look no further. The Center is pleased to offer My Risk Management Policies, an affordable, easy-to-use online tool that helps you create custom policies in a matter of minutes. Policy templates are organized into 22 categories. Creating a new social media policy, youth protection policy or code of conduct is a snap using My Risk Management Policies, and requires far less time that it takes to find a mildly suitable sample using an Internet search engine.



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