Nonprofit Human Services Employees' Intentions Literature Review

Excerpt from Literature Review :

Additionally, the fact that the training is offered at all levels of the position -- not just entry levels -- and the fact that the training is offered to both employees as well as volunteers, further increases the odds that the individuals will accept the positions in the NFP sector.

"Nonprofit organizations owe it to their staff members to train them and develop their careers. […] the advancement of a nonprofit's mission requires staff training (that includes volunteers) at all levels and in all skills. Human resource development is the only way to sustained viable programming. That makes training an intrinsic component of strategic management, the very best means to changing the skills, knowledge and attitude of staff" (Chehade and Jassemm, 2010).

Employees in the not-for-profit sector often accept the lower salary in exchange for several other non-financial benefits, like the training opportunities, but also for benefits such as flexibility or autonomy. Nevertheless, this acceptance of the lower pay in exchange for flexibility and independence is often coupled with the belief of the employee in the cause of the organization.

"Not-for-profits […] usually offer non-economic rewards, such as flexibility and independence. The lower salary accepted by the not-for-profit employees is a 'donation' of time -- given because of the employees' commitment to the cause" (Newlands and Hooper, 2009).

The same opinion regarding the importance of a shared vision and mission with the firm is also supported by other sources, such as the Wellesley Center for Work and Service (2010). The editors at the firm argue that a crucial element as to why the individuals will work for a not-for-profit agency is because they share the same commitment to a better world, as the agency does. Additionally, according to the same source, they are drawn to the field as it presents them with benefits such as more vacation time or the ability to participate to various programs.

"Not-for-profit staff members share a commitment to the mission of the organization with their colleagues. While not-for-profits typically pay less than for-profit organizations, often they offer more benefits such as increased vacation time, the opportunity to attend programs at no cost, or a more casual working environment. Frequently, and particularly in small not-for-profits, staff members are asked to perform a variety of tasks" (Wellesley Center for Work and Service, 2010).

Finally, another important point is made by Pamela J. Wilcox (2006), who argues that stress and low pay are important elements in the decision to leave employment in the non-profit sector, but she believes that an even more important role is played by the inadequate organizational culture:

"A huge reason for the high turnover of nonprofit staff is a work culture that is at best discouraging to creative, talented professionals and at worst actually toxic to worker productivity. This same culture often extends to volunteers. Nonproductive committees, unclear volunteer roles and weak volunteer boards stimulate the same kind of turnover of bright, talented volunteers. All in all, the nonprofit work culture often serves as a catalyst for the exodus of the best and brightest from the ranks of the organization" (Wilcox, 2006).

To pin point to the most important sources of attraction towards the not-for-profit sector, the following are relevant:

The ability to conduct meaningful and socially important work which does not focus on profits

The ability to directly witness the impact of the work completed

Increased levels of flexibility

A more casual working environment which reveals more sincere relationships and collaborations between colleagues

Higher levels of responsibility which allow the employees to prove their worth

A highly integrated organizational culture focused on the same core values

Increased benefits. In spite of the low salary accepted, the employees will be presented with other benefits, such as more vacation time, health insurance for the employee and their families, retirement plans and so on (Joiner and Busse, 2010).

In spite of the proven fact that firms in the not-for-profit sector pay their employees less than the firms in the for-profit sector, recent studies have indicated the sustainable increase of the not-for-profit field. This in essence means that the popularity of the sector has grown, and so has its economic...
...Between 1990 and 1995 for instance, the employment in the not-for-profit sector in the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Japan and Israel has increased by 24 per cent (Anheier, 2003). This in turn increases its ability to pay higher wages and as such stimulates decisions to seek employment in the sector.

5. The role of education

The not-for-profit sector is characterized by the fact that it employs numerous highly educated people, this indicating the need to address the role of education from several angles, as follows:

a) Education and the belief in the organizational core values and mission

The topic of the beliefs in the organizational core values and mission is relatively poorly represented within the specialized literature, indicating as such the need for sustained research in the area. Joseph Zajda (2009) strives to explain the belief in the organizational core values and mission by introducing the features of the individual. In this order of ideas, the author of Race, ethnicity and gender in education: cross-cultural understandings argues that the commitment of an employee to a firm and its values and mission is directly dependent on the individual's own belief in the goals of the organization, in his past cognitive processes as well as his loyalty. All these determinants are generated by both personal features as well as education.

b) Education and the decision to remain with the agency or leave it

Similar to the relationship between education and the belief in the organizational core values and mission, the relationship between education and the decision to leave the not-for-profit sector or remain employed within it has also been limitedly addressed. Leopold M. Stoneham (2005) nevertheless approached the issue and related it to the gender and ethnical composition of the labor force. The author revealed that higher levels of education indicate reduced risks of unemployment, whereas lower levels of education point out to increased risks of unemployment. This specifically indicates that the less educated individuals would be prone to preserving their positions in the not for profit sector, whereas the more educated individuals could seek more advantageous employment opportunities.

c) Education and the levels of employee satisfaction

Anthony Kelly (2004) reveals that employee satisfaction is crucial for company performance, but in order to attain high levels of performance and organizational success, the individual must also possess high levels of education. The editors at the Joint Commission Resources (2002) found that there was a direct relationship between education and satisfaction in the meaning that the offering of education from the firm in the support of the professional formation of the individual generated higher levels of employee satisfaction.

d) Education and the ultimate decision to leave the firm or remain with it

As the previous lines have shown, the decision to leave employment is subjected to a wide array of characteristics, some intrinsic whereas other extrinsic. At the level of education, it plays a bivalent role as a source of jobs, but also as an opportunity to seek better employment opportunities.

e) the overall role of education

Ultimately, the general commitment to the not-for-profit company is directly impacted by a wide array of factors, one of them also being education. In this order of ideas, the level of education is directly proportionate with the commitment to the organizational values and mission. In other words, higher educated individuals will be more committed to the firm and will be firm believers in the company and its ability to positively impact the society. This in turn represents an additional reason as to why individuals will decide to work in the not-for-profit sector. On the other hand, education and the drive for personal success also impacts employees' ambitions and decisions to seek better employment opportunities. As such, these highly educated employees will also be among the first to leave the firm when they are presented with more financially rewarding opportunities (Kruger, 2005).

This is a good indication that the absence of experienced and versatile staff members is not simply a liability to the operational habits and daily outlook of an organization. More than that, it represents diminished opportunities for the augmentation of support funds as well, leading to a self-perpetuating challenge where employee retention is concerned. Those who are not already well-schooled in the nature of nonprofit fundraising will enter their organizations into the field with a meaningful disadvantage. Indeed, Peizer (2003) indicates that funding sources for nonprofit agencies are in short supply and are heavily competed upon. Therefore, only the most successful of these organizations can raise and offer personnel the type of pay that might ultimately be commensurate with high educational attainment.

As we consider the way these realities particular to the nonprofit sector relate to levels…

Sources Used in Documents:


Anheier, H.K., 2003, Work in the non-profit sector: forms, patterns and methodologies, International Labor Organization

Boyd, C., 2003, Human resource management and occupational health and safety, Routledge

Brown, H.H., Ruhl, D.L., 2003, Breakthrough management for not-for-profit organizations: beyond survival in the 21st century, Greenwood Publishing Group

Buhler, P., 2002, Human resources management: all the information you need to manage your staff and meet your business objectives, Adams Media

Cite This Literature Review:

"Nonprofit Human Services Employees' Intentions" (2011, February 15) Retrieved March 2, 2021, from

"Nonprofit Human Services Employees' Intentions" 15 February 2011. Web.2 March. 2021. <>

"Nonprofit Human Services Employees' Intentions", 15 February 2011, Accessed.2 March. 2021,