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Motivating Factors Protect Against Negative Stress


5 April 2018 at 9:34 am
Wendy Williams
The factors that motivate and engage people at work also protect them against negative stress, according to the 2018 Pro Bono Salary Survey.


Wendy Williams | 5 April 2018 at 9:34 am


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Motivating Factors Protect Against Negative Stress
5 April 2018 at 9:34 am

The factors that motivate and engage people at work also protect them against negative stress, according to the 2018 Pro Bono Salary Survey.

Now in its sixth year, Pro Bono Australia’s annual not for profit salary survey aims to provide reliable salary benchmarking data for key roles in the not-for-profit sector.

This year’s survey, completed in partnership with chartered accounting group HLB Mann Judd, industry super fund HESTA and Beveridge Consulting, also included a number of additional questions regarding job satisfaction.

It found that 82 per cent of not-for-profit leaders surveyed felt their work was demanding with nearly half (46 per cent) saying they often experienced negative work-related stress and 17 per cent saying they were not sure they would like to keep working for their organisation beyond a year.

Andrew Beveridge from Beveridge Consulting told Pro Bono News the findings highlighted a risk that where stress was not addressed employees would start voting with their feet.

“If you bring all of it together I think there’s a risk there that if we don’t address that pressure and the demands that are being placed on people in a constructive way that could lead to greater turnover,” Beveridge said.

According to the survey, those who felt they often experienced negative work-related stress also had 16 per cent lower levels of engagement.

However, the research showed some people were able to remain positive and effective even when work demands were high, due to a range of motivational factors including purpose, development, connection, autonomy, pay (external) and pay (internal).

The analysis looked specifically at those with the highest ratings of work demands (39 per cent of those who responded). It found positive ratings for these motivational factors were not only associated with lower negative work-related stress, but also increased engagement levels and increased likelihood of staying with the organisation.

Beveridge said it appeared that the factors that motivated and engaged people at work also protected them against the negative stress typical in demanding jobs.

“When these motivational conditions are present, the high work demands don’t appear to be as negative in their impact,” Beveridge said.

“You do see these quite dramatic shifts for those who have for example a real sense of purpose about the organisation and where it’s headed and their role within that versus those who aren’t sure or who are negative when they think about the purpose of the organisation. So they have much higher levels of engagement, are much more likely to stay and we do see that reduction in negative stress.

“So it’s an intriguing picture where it’s both motivating for people, so really hooks them in with the organisation, they want to stay and even though they have got the same level of job demands they actually feel less negative stress as a result.”

Based on the findings, the report provided five ways to increase retention and engagement, while reducing negative stress: build a sense of purpose, encourage and support ongoing development, encourage connections, provide greater autonomy, and benchmark and structure pay.

Beveridge said not for profits had an advantage here.

“Not for profits usually have a great story to tell about how they were formed and the nature of the work that they do and the impact it has in the community. And so I think by really connecting people with that mission and vision, helping them to understand what their role is in that, that’s one thing that can have a huge impact,” he said.

“And when we think about that, really the opportunity to do that fits a lot with the leaders in organisations.

“I think one of the key things coming out each of the areas that we’ve looked at really is the individual manager has a very strong role to play. And so probably the challenge there is how much time and effort are we investing in our managers to have these kinds of conversations, to manage people effectively not just to get more out of them but to have them more engaged and feeling less stressed even when the demands are on.”

Beveridge said another key take away from the survey was around salary wage growth.

“It does seem like this year CEOs when they’re thinking about the salary forecasting they’re making for their organisation, so the kind of percentage increases they want to put in place, they’re slightly higher than what we saw last year,” he said.

“We’re coming off the back of pretty low wage growth generally in the economy and we’ve seen the same in the not-for-profit sector.

“It does seem like we’re maybe just starting to turn the corner there a little bit. So CEOs are a little bit more confident around wage growth coming into the coming year which is good news for us.”

The 2018 Pro Bono Salary Survey, one of the largest surveys of its kind, included responses covering 1,264 cases across 21 positions that are common to most not-for-profit organisations.

Of the respondents 74 per cent were female, 72 per cent worked five days or more and 42 per cent respondents to the survey had a Bachelor degree/Bachelor degree (Honours).

The average practical experience in the field of work was 17.7 years.

Beveridge said it was very helpful for organisations to feel confident about where they sit in the market and that they are paying their people appropriately and fairly within the organisation.

“The risk of not doing this kind of benchmarking is that we end up out of step with the market. So we’re not we’re not being competitive, or perhaps we’re actually paying too much. We’re paying more than we need to,” he said.

“And so it’s a great opportunity to build that consistency within the organisation and make sure that we’re paying people in a fair way where they feel like they’re being fairly treated and recognised for their contribution.”

According to the survey, only 58 per cent of the leaders responding thought their pay was reasonable when compared to other similar organisations.

For leaders in the top tier, research/medical research was again the sector with the highest average total remuneration excluding incentives, while organisations focused on environment/conservation were the lowest.

The survey also revealed that average total remuneration excluding incentives were highest in the Australian Capital Territory, while Queensland had the lowest average total remuneration excluding incentives for CEOs.

Pro Bono Australia founder and CEO Karen Mahlab AM said the survey offered unique insights into how the sector operated.

“This is the largest social sector salary survey of its kind in Australia and therefore an indispensable decision-making tool on remuneration for all C-suite executives, boards and individuals of not for profits,” Mahlab said.

The 2018 report is available here.


Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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