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Nonprofit Job Trends: Flexible Work Schedules and Flexible Work Arrangements


The way America works is changing, experts say, and a big part of that change involves flexible work arrangements with part-time hours, flex-time and work-from-home setups.

Generations X and Y have challenged the concept of face-time, experts say, and the need to clock 60 hours a week in the office. And while baby boomers have indicated a strong interest in working during their later years, they want to do so with flexible work schedules

Karen Cates, adjunct professor of management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, said nonprofit organization don’t typically demand the long hours of the for-profit sector.

“The moral attachment to the hours doesn’t seem to be at the nonprofit. There’s also a human-services aspect, so that links to the idea that life is more than just your job,” Cates said.

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Cates said a flexible work arrangement leads to healthier, happier employees.

“The more complex your life, the more pockets of identity you have-work, family, faith, friends, fun-that’s what makes you healthy. If you get fired, or divorced, or you have a crisis of faith, you have other places to look for support,” Cates said. “I kind of like to look at it as an evolution of well-being. Who wouldn’t want a flexible workforce if you can have it?”

Flexible work schedules also could mean good business. For example, if a nonprofit hired a late career changer or baby boomer as a chief financial officer on a flexible, three-day-a-week schedule, he or she could mentor a more junior employee, said Simms of Bridgestar.

“Without the senior person, the skill set of the junior person can’t be developed. If they [the nonprofit] took a budget and got someone more seasoned for three days a week so the organization gets what they need, and the person who wants to work three days a week [gets what he or she needs], it’s a win-win,” Simms said.

Read more about general trends on flexible work arrangements in  my previous article “Toward a More Flexible Workplace“. I interviewed a wide variety of people for PayScale’s feature story on women re-entering the workforce after time off. I also delve into what happens when baby boomers retire or shift careers and how can the knowledge and skills gap could partially be filled by moms heading back to work. Is the American way of working about becoming more flexible?

I also wrote an article about how sick days are a matter of flexibility. After seeing several articles on workplace flexibility in the news, it seemed that paid sick days should also be on such the “flexible work arrangements” list. Read my article, “Paid Sick Days: Why Not?“, to find out how sick days can figure into flexible work schedules.

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