What to Look for When Joining a Charity in 2021
We all know that the pandemic has altered the modern workplace. Today we have social distancing and health protocols, rotating work schedules, and remote work arrangements. It’s a lot to deal with, especially since charities are constantly making adjustments to keep up with the latest regulations.
However, the job market is gradually starting to find its footing again. It’s a relief to see some parts of the UK economy reopening. After nearly a year of job losses, the number of people on a payroll finally rose in December. Many charities have also been able to bring employees back from furlough. And with the UK slowly recovering from the pandemic, there’s a good chance of employment rates increasing soon. So things are looking more positive for the job hunters out there.
If you’re joining a charity, pay particular attention to the benefits that your future employer can offer you. This is your chance to address many of the niggles that you might have had about your previous workplace.
Has the pandemic made you reassess your priorities? Has there been anything positive about your new style of working? Many job seekers are now paying much more attention to maintaining a healthy balance between family time, health, social life, hobbies, and work. So much so that a study on People Matters Global found that candidates prefer a good work-life balance over financial incentives when choosing a new employer.
Work-life balance is one of the harder traits to look for when you’re joining a charity. It’s more of a lived experience than something set in the contract. But you can still get a good sense of it at interview, and if it’s important to you, don’t be afraid to ask about it directly. Make sure you find out the hours that you’re expected to work and study your contract to see whether there is any mention of expected overtime. It’s even worth reaching out to current employees on LinkedIn, or those who have recently left the charity to find out more about the culture.
The pandemic has meant that many charities have undergone significant change. From furloughing employees through to exploring new ways of working (e.g. digital fundraising), the sector has proven its versatility and resilience. These qualities are markers of a great organisation. That’s why its worth openly asking your employer how the pandemic has affected them. You’ll quickly be able to gauge whether they have taken care of their employees throughout. Any responsible employer will consider employees’ welfare a top priority
When the government states that its safe for all workers to return to the workplace, there will be a certain level of flexibility expected in many organisations. Charities may eventually even need to adapt to a hybrid model of working. A Slack study recently reported that 72% of workers prefer this arrangement. Make sure you establish if this is the case in the charity that you’re applying to join.
A comprehensive wellness programme embracing mental health
Employer–endorsed gym memberships just won’t cut it anymore. Wellness now extends to more than just the physical aspects of health. And that means a charity’s wellness program and benefits should now include mental health support.
Look for charities that prioritise access to mental health professionals and actively advocate for mental health. A good sign is if the charity’s leaders have openly spoken about their support for the mental wellbeing of their workforce. Don’t be afraid to bring up this topic at interview.
Opportunities for self-improvement
As a candidate, you’re likely keen to find a place with plenty of opportunity for improving your skills. Find out what your prospective employer offers in the way of training. Are there any internal courses? Is there an education budget? Don’t be afraid to be proactive here—ask about the types of courses that current team members have attended and name-drop the skills that you are looking to develop.
Another good question to pose at interview is around how goals are set for each team member. Are they imposed by management? Or decided upon mutually? Is there room for you to influence the direction of your career? Without clarity in this aspect, you might be better off looking for another opportunity that aligns with your needs, both personally and professionally.
The job market is tough, but this is not a reason to compromise on elements of a job that you feel strongly about. Joining a charity means that you’re dedicating a significant amount of time and effort into its work. So be discerning and firm, yet open-minded about the type of employer you choose.