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Organizational Culture

Jewish Nonprofits: Not Yet Great Places to Work, But Striving

by Leading Edge

New findings from the 2022 Employee Experience Survey show both challenges and hope in the Jewish nonprofit sector

More than three-quarters of employees want to stay at their organizations for at least two years. There was unusually high turnover and hiring from 2021 to 2022. Employees who identify as LGBTQ+ or People of Color (particularly Black employees) are much less likely to feel like they belong in their organizations. 

These are just a few of the many insights shared in Leading Edge’s new report: Are Jewish Organizations Great Places to Work? Results From the Sixth Annual Employee Experience Survey.

The report is based on data from more than 12,000 people working at 257 Jewish nonprofits surveyed in May 2022. 

The Employee Experience Survey studies how employees in the Jewish nonprofit sector experience their work, why they choose to leave or stay in their organizations, and what keeps them engaged. Conducted primarily to help each participating organization become a better place to work, the survey also helps Leading Edge better understand issues of organizational culture affecting the Jewish nonprofit sector as a whole.

Some top headlines from 2022:

  • People want to stay in this sector. A strong majority of employees surveyed (70%) want to stay in the Jewish nonprofit sector for two years or more. This is significantly higher than the equivalent figure in 2019, when only 52% of employees surveyed indicated that they wanted to stay working in the sector for two years or more. (In the 2021 survey, in an economic moment still largely defined by COVID recovery, that figure was even higher, at 79%.)
  • People (still) want well-being, trusted leaders, and inclusion. The top drivers of employee engagement remain what Leading Edge has seen in past years: feeling that the organization cares for employees’ well-being, confidence in leadership, feelings of belonging, and feeling that there is open and honest communication in the organization. (“Employee engagement” means feeling proud to work at the organization, wanting to stay, being likely to recommend it to others as a great place to work, and feeling motivated to do one’s best work.)
  • Some employees are less likely to feel like they belong. There are pronounced inequities in experience—especially around belonging and other DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging) work experiences—along lines of identity characteristics including gender and sexual identity, race/ethnicity, and disability. LGBTQ+ employees and People of Color (particularly Black employees, both including Black Jews and Black employees who are not Jewish) are markedly less likely to feel like they belong in their organizations.
  • There’s been a lot of turnover. One-third (33%) of employees surveyed have been with their organizations for less than two years. This substantial share of workers doesn’t remember their organizations’ pre-COVID status quo. And the proportion of employees who are in their first year with their organizations (21% in 2022) is almost twice as high as it was among the organizations we surveyed in 2021 (12% in 2021).
  • Working with board members is common. More than one out of every four employees surveyed (27%) reports that they work with the board. This is a higher figure than we might have expected.
  • Most employees go to work in person for at least part of their work week. Three-quarters of employees surveyed (76%) reported that they work outside their homes for at least part of each week. 
  • People working in person (i.e., not remotely) trust their leaders more if they feel well prepared for physical security threats. For the first time, we asked employees working outside their homes about preparedness for physical security threats. Five out of six employees surveyed (72%) feel prepared to act in the event of a security threat, but those who don’t feel prepared are markedly less likely to have confidence in their organizational leadership.

“There are big challenges for organizational culture in our field, but there's hope too," says Gali Cooks, President & CEO of Leading Edge. "Improving employee experience isn’t a straight line. Organizations that have taken the Employee Experience Survey five or six times have seen a lot of improvement. But that journey isn’t neat or linear. As they walk this winding path forward, leaders need to make sure they're communicating. Our data shows that the most important way for leaders to improve confidence in their leadership is to improve communication with their teams."

The Employee Experience Survey has been conducted every year since 2016 (with the exception of 2020, as organizations were adjusting to COVID-19 disruptions). In total, more than 45,000 people at nearly 400 Jewish nonprofits have received the survey over the years. 

Read the full report >>

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