by James Weinberg, founder and CEO of Commongood Careers.
Recruiting and employing a 60-year-old former corporate businessperson may be different than bringing on a 25-year-old recent business school graduate.
But both candidates may be attracted by some simple innovations in how the workplace is structured that are often overlooked by nonprofit organizations.
These “alternatively structured” positions may involve flexible hours, working remotely, part-time commitments, or consulting arrangements. Such non-traditional roles may include some of the following attributes and benefits:
Alternative Location arrangements let employees work off-site or from another place on some days and from the office on other days. People may be based from home, from their office at another part-time job, from the library or a coffee shop, or from a rented desk within an organization in another city. Alternative location arrangements enable employers to tap a national talent pool for any role that can be performed outside of headquarters and permit those with home-based responsibilities or limited mobility to continue to play an important role in the organization.
Flexible Full-Time Schedules -- anything except for 9-5 -- may allow some employees to work from noon to 8 p.m. every day while others work 40 hours a week all packed into four or even three business days. Some employees may work full weekends and half-days during the rest of the week. These schedules allow for childcare and other caregiving responsibilities, other out-of-office commitments, or those who require flexibility for other reasons.
Part-Time roles can go beyond the typical three-day per week arrangements. Working half-days everyday or working full-time during a part of the year while taking unpaid leave for the remainder of the year can suit many talented employees. Think of teachers who spend summers or winters at second homes in other regions. These possibilities depend heavily on the nature of the role’s responsibility and the seasonality of the organization’s work, but may also open some intriguing possibilities for organizations to fill roles during periods of high-demand while saving money during quieter times.
Consulting relationships can also go beyond the limited scope of project-based roles that are usually farmed out to professional consultants or firms. Structured non-employee relationships can be applied to almost any back-office function and can allow for more flexibility in staffing up and down within an area. In difficult economic times, these relationships may also serve as attractive alternatives to making a full-time commitment with benefits to an employee. As with all of these options, however, organizations should consult applicable state and federal employment regulations to ensure that they are in compliance in structuring alternative roles.
With most nonprofits lacking fully developed human-resources capacities, many organizations dismiss such possibilities as being too difficult to structure, quality control or manage. Others find that individuals pursuing these opportunities may not exhibit the same levels of commitment, passion or cultural fit for which they are used to searching. Short-term thinking in this area, however, overlooks numerous possibilities and may close the door on valuable talent groups like Baby Boom encore career seekers.
Particularly for encore careerists, in fact, alternatively structured roles may present attractive opportunities because of the stage that they have reached in their careers and the lifestyle choices that they are balancing. These roles many also allow organizations to tap into the experience and talent of such individuals, without struggling as much to support the salary needs of a senior professional or to ensure the same level of cultural fit with an employee who may be more of a demographic outlier than the norm. With some planning and flexibility, these employment vehicles can present win-win opportunities for nonprofits and encore career seekers alike.