An interesting question that I’m finding is a challenge to answer. My initial presumption was nonprofit staff would be more engaged because their work is mission-driven. However, I’ve also known nonprofit employees who are minimally engaged because their workplace situation turned out to be negative. So I started a quest to find research on nonprofit employment engagement and discovered there’s not much out there.
What I was able to find came from Gallup, and it surprised me. Jessica Tyler, Practice Manager in Employee Engagement, shared comparative data from Gallup’s global database with results showing employees in the nonprofit segment were actually less “engaged” and slightly more “actively disengaged” than employees in the overall database.
Commenting on this, Gallup consultant Bill McEwen noted: “It certainly appears that the employees of not-for-profit organizations, while perhaps attracted by a strong sense of mission, are often less (rather than more) engaged than the average employee. Of course, this varies by organization … as some of them are super in recognizing and energizing those who work for them, while others may pay great attention to their mission and relatively little attention to the people called upon to fulfill it.”
As Jessica aptly noted: “Connecting to the mission is just one of the [many] critical elements involved in a person or team’s engagement.” But it’s clearly not enough.
[Thanks, Jessica and Bill, for your help with this post.]
While most employee engagement research seems to include the healthcare and government sectors, I haven’t found data on other nonprofits that include social & human services, arts & cultural organizations, professional associations, education, and membership-based organizations. If you’re aware of any, please let me know.