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NFP leaders urged to create a culture of strong workers


11 April 2019 at 8:00 am
Luke Michael
Employees in the not-for-profit sector are feeling “stressed” and “stretched” according to the 2019 Pro Bono Australia Salary Survey, which says leaders have a role to play creating a work environment where everyone can thrive.  


Luke Michael | 11 April 2019 at 8:00 am


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NFP leaders urged to create a culture of strong workers
11 April 2019 at 8:00 am

Employees in the not-for-profit sector are feeling “stressed” and “stretched” according to the 2019 Pro Bono Australia Salary Survey, which says leaders have a role to play creating a work environment where everyone can thrive.  

Now in its seventh year, the annual NFP salary survey aims to provide reliable salary benchmarking data for key roles in the sector, and was completed in partnership with chartered accounting group HLB Mann Judd, industry super fund HESTA and Leadership Today.

More than 1,400 not for profit leaders and employees were surveyed for this year’s report, which revealed 46 per cent of people reported often experiencing negative work-related stress – a group labelled “the stressed”.

The report also found 80 per cent of employees saw their work as demanding – a group labelled “the stretched”.

Andrew Beveridge from Leadership Today told Pro Bono News this research highlighted that leaders in the NFP sector were under great pressure and having to do more with less.

“The ‘stressed’ group demonstrate 17 per cent lower levels of engagement than others, meaning they’re much less likely to recommend their organisation as somewhere to work, as well as being less motivated, less satisfied with their job, and less likely to stay with the organisation,” Beveridge said.

But he said the “stretched” group demonstrate more positive engagement than those who don’t find their work demanding, particularly when it comes to their motivation to do their best at work.

He also said it was possible to be both “stressed” and “stretched”.

To explore this further, Beveridge looked at those who felt their work was demanding, but who didn’t often experience negative work-related stress.

This accounted for 38 per cent of the respondents surveyed, a group labelled “the strong”.

Beveridge said this group had particularly positive results, demonstrating 34 per cent higher engagement than the rest.

They were much more likely to recommend their organisation as a place to work, were more motivated and satisfied with their jobs, and were more likely to stay.

Beveridge said it was important to turn employees from being “stretched” to “strong”.

He noted “strong” workers had particularly high ratings around purpose, development, connections and autonomy – four work environment factors related to employee engagement.

“They have a clear purpose in their work, feeling they are contributing to something important and enduring. They receive the development they need in areas that are important to them,” he said.

“They have connections with others in the organisation to provide and receive support, which helps build collaboration. And they have the freedom and autonomy to get on with their work to achieve results.”

To help “stressed” and “stretched” NFP employees, Beveridge said leaders had a role to play creating a work environment where everyone could thrive.  

“For leaders, the goal is to create an environment that is challenging, while also minimising negative work-related stress,” he said.

“This means being able to create and communicate a clear vision is critical. They also need to work… to discover and support [employees’] development needs, while connecting them with others in the organisation to provide support.”

He added that leaders needed to boost employee autonomy, removing frustrations and roadblocks to performance that could get in the way.

“[This] helps ensure the organisation’s needs are met [and] can then deliver great results and services within a challenging and ever changing operating context,” he said.

This year’s salary survey included responses covering 1,421 cases across 26 positions common to most not-for-profit organisations.

Of the respondents:

  •         75 per cent were female;
  •         the majority (59 per cent) were in the 50 to 59 age group; and
  •         just under 70 per cent worked five days or more.

The highest number of cases covered the role of CEO (292 cases), with the disability sector (46 cases) recording the most CEO cases.

Pro Bono Australia’s data revealed that 73 per cent of CEOs received a remuneration review on a regular basis – a small improvement over the 71 per cent of CEOs the previous year. The average CEO salary ($133,260) actually sits at the highest level in Salary Survey history.

But the biggest salary rise came in the role of services manager, with the median base salary 14 per cent higher than last year’s survey.

Conversely, the median base salary for finance manager/treasurer was 2 per cent lower than last year.

Pro Bono Australia founder and CEO Karen Mahlab AM said the salary survey offered an annual deep dive into the remuneration practices of Australia’s not-for-profit organisations.

“This is the largest not for profit/social sector salary survey in Australia, and as a result delivers a robust evidence base which can be trusted by boards, CEOs and managers to accurately guide them when making remuneration decisions,” Mahlab said.

The full 2019 report is available here.

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Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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One comment

  • Avatar Bianca Monteiro says:

    What is the answer to the following questions: “In which state can you expect to be paid the highest salary as a CEO?” because I swear I’ve tried every state twice but none of them come up as correct.

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