Article: Nudging top talents into the social sector

Talent Management

Nudging top talents into the social sector

No more is the NGO workforce expected to be ‘sacrificial lambs’ for the good of the country, but are being seen for the passionate individuals that they are, with a right to lead a good life while simultaneously working for the betterment of society.
Nudging top talents into the social sector

It’s 2020: The traditional definition of ‘jobs’, ‘professions’ and ‘careers’ – is changing.

The millennial workforce in the country today want to build their careers around missions and not just money.

The stubborn pandemic continues to gallivant, and the crisis has been a clarion call to humanity. Youngsters are not shying away from the dysfunction society has cast itself into. They’re willing to rock the boat, if it will sail us to better lands.

In India, non-profit organizations have always been the backbone to social change – be it at policy level, community level or grassroots level. However, in the past, NGO’s and Public Sector Organizations have not been a cardinal aspiration for the country’s talent pool.  The reasons are obvious – culturally and monetarily, these institutions had not rivalled the scintillating corporate world. This is changing.

In the last few years, NGO’s have fast emerged as great employers. There is a new breed of NGO’s in the country, to start with. Political start-ups, Social-Impact Investment Firms and Incubators, New Media and Cause-Championing Start-ups, Technology and Infrastructure Start-ups to aid India’s Sustainable Development Goals, Cultural Advocacy Organizations– are some of the new flavours in the spread.

Some of these Foundations, as per a survey by ‘Great Place to Work’, are even ahead of many corporate companies in offering a very positive and engaging employee experience. Not only is the career trajectory with such organizations deeply meaningful, but also offer life-enhancing and attractive growth opportunities. 

Evolving with global trends, leadership-teams are being more open-minded about people practices, culture, well-being and even compensation. No more is the NGO workforce expected to be ‘sacrificial lambs’ for the good of the country, but are being seen for the passionate individuals that they are, with a right to lead a good life while simultaneously working for the betterment of society.

While the funding systems on which NGO’s run can be unforgiving towards internal spend, leaders are becoming cognizant of this fact: to change the world in bold and inspiring ways, they need top talent full of passion, interest and energy. To attract and retain such talent, NGO’s have to be amazing places to work in, providing the best of both worlds- the avenue to serve a cause powerfully and stay stoked about their workplace! This naturally transitions to the bottom line of the organization.

NGO’s like Charity: Water and Kiva have set new cultural standards. From creating enlivening workspaces, hosting trips to visit their partners and beneficiaries in the field, networking events to spark out-of-the-box collaborations and joint-ventures, monthly recess days to indulge in play, fostering a spirit of having fun and caring for each other deeply, ushering in work-life balance and wellness programs – these companies leave nothing out. These don’t always have to be high-budget, lavish initiatives, but thoughtful programs crafted with love. They’re also making phenomenal efforts in storytelling: sharing their work and values with the world, behooving new talent to join hands. This is the need of the hour.

Some cool people practices include:

  • Unlimited leaves policy: When the workforce is engaged and committed, trust comes easily. Encouraging them to plan their own breaks in consultation with their teams – helps them show up for life in the best way they can.
  • Side-projects: Freedom to explore side-gigs, projects in other streams within or in association with the company – helps individuals carve their unique way forward. In fact, several high-impact product lines in such Foundations have sprung from such side-projects. 
  • Learning wallet: NGO’s are opening up to generous learning wallets and tie-ups with external academies – to upskill individuals and help them in exploring career pathways. Training and development programs are just as coveted as in the corporate sector – since its equally (if not more) crucial to build capability in the public sector. Job rotations and flexible opportunities to explore new fields of interest- are also popular options for the young workforce.
  • Mental Health and Physical Wellness initiatives on a day-to-day basis through education modules as well as active engagement: Glamorizing burnout doesn’t work any longer, with increasing research indicating everyday as to how stress impacts health and happiness.
  • Best practices in diversity and inclusion
  • Financial help and insurance cover to aid in times of crisis
  • These are only a few of the changes creeping through NGO life. Of course, in India, on-ground community workers still need a lot of transition. We need to champion their cause for wellbeing, emotional support, better working environments, compensation and benefits, learning and development etc. It is important for evolving, forward-thinking non-profit organizations to be a voice for this cause, and garner support from both the public and private sectors. This is the only way to drive more talent and manpower into the social sector.

Having rigid culture boundaries between for-profit and non-profit organizations – is slowly becoming outdated. Both spheres are starting to intersect, and people are people, whichever sector they belong to. They deserve dignity, wellbeing, and opportunities for growth. One thing that new-age Foundations are aspiring to: if you resonate with the cause and have joined us, you are going to want to stay and play for a long time, because we aim not just to change the world, but also your life.

What sort of freedom and growth lies on the other side of questioning old norms? What would happen if non-profits chose to be bolder in fighting for their own people, in addition to their causes? How many more heads would turn towards socially impactful work and the life potential it brings? What if public sector work was not life-draining but rather life-boosting? How much more vibrant could we make our world then? These are the questions we should be looking to answer!


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Topics: Talent Management, #GuestArticle

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