How Should We Value Time in the Nonprofit Sector? A Response from Jordan Killebrew

In last week’s newsletter, we posed the question: Should nonprofit employees receive paid time off? This question was sparked by the Santa Barbara Foundation’s announcement that they are closing their offices at 1pm on Fridays until September 7 for their staff to enjoy the summer time.

Given the ongoing discussions within the nonprofit sector about increasing compensation, attracting and keeping valuable staff and otherwise offering benefits to staff, we thought the concept of TIME was worth putting on the table.

We received several responses from the sector, and wanted to feature two. The first, below, is from Jordan Killebrew at the Santa Barbara Foundation. You can read the second from Greg Gorga here.

Dear NPRNSB,

When I am at lunch at Savoy with friends in the social sector, a common theme we usually have is exhaustion. We commiserate and then quickly finish up our meals to get back to work. During these conversations, I do hold my tongue, where I must realize that the definition of wellness at the Santa Barbara Foundation (SBF), my employer, varies differently than other nonprofits. I have the privilege to address exhaustion in real time and have responsive leadership and a resourced infrastructure to focus on the welfare of our staff. I am so grateful that NPRNSB decided to comment on SBF Summer Fridays and begin a conversation about wellness in our sector. I want to add to this conversation and share my perspective of the Foundation’s definition of welfare for its employees.

It is the second summer that SBF has instituted Summer Fridays, where in late July through early September, both offices close at 1 pm. My organization recognizes that we are working individuals with families, where we live in such a beautiful space and should be out spending quality time with loved ones, enjoying the sunshine and beauty of this area. Investments in wellness go back before my start at the Foundation. Years ago, Ron Gallo, our President & CEO, cut down the work week to 35 hours with 8 hours out of the year devoted as paid volunteer time. For me when I began as a then non-exempt employee, this was a reprieve to have a seven-hour work day and taught me how to prioritize tasks and maximize my hours in a week. Ron also implemented remote working. We have staff members that live as far east as Fillmore and as far north as Santa Maria. To Ron, time is essential and must be flexible to adjust to that staff member’s needs, so they can be the most efficient while having balance in their life. Staff with aging parents have found this flexibility valuable, as they are caregivers and are able to manage their own wellness to care for their loved ones. 

From time to time there is children’s laughter in the hallways. We all know that childcare can be costly, so parents are allowed to bring their children to work when other care is not available. In addition, we have furry friends that also hang out with us and are allowed to be in the office. There is a FUNdation committee that plans fun gatherings each month for staff to get to know each other on a more personal basis, to which family members are invited. More recently, as a product of our strategic planning, the Foundation has hired a Human Resource Manager and developed an Organizational Culture Committee that is focused on enhancing the vitality of the workplace. SBF is not devoid of stressful situations and large workloads but I feel that education and processes are in place to address stress and access to information on how to practice wellness.

The definition of wellness can vary from organization to organization across the county. What SBF does may not fit or work for other organizations. But what is crucial and what I am grateful for, is a work environment where we may be honest and constructive about our wellness, and there is the Organizational Culture Committee to address these conversations, be creative and implement. For me, if I am not well, I am not producing good work and again I must thank SBF for their investment in me to be at my best.

Sincerely,

A well and happy employee (aka Jordan Killebrew)

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