Friday, September 26, 2008

How depressing is this report?

[CORRECTION: I had the wrong sender of the Report organization noted in the original version of this post, so the organization name is now removed. Apologies for that error the first time.]

While looking at what to cut or freeze in my budget, I got an email from a company saying they're reporting on the "Top Places to Work in Associations and Nonprofits." Here's a sample of "top picks" benefits noted ...

"90 days of paid time-off for new mothers and fathers
A four-week sabbatical
Employer-paid health care coverage the whole family
A 17 percent retirement contribution
Five weeks of vacation in the first year of employment"

The email states: "Some of the benefits and perks are simply incredible." Um, I agree.

Even if it's an annual report, is this the right message to send out to the association community in a down economy? I hope I'm wrong, but why do I have certainty we're going to see a big list of national associations in big cities with large staffs that get these kind of benefits? It's the type of message that is routinely discouraging to those of us who run medium or small associations in state and local associations or chapters. Even recognizing that in big cities those level of benefits may be necessary to compete for and retain skilled employees - even against other associations and nonprofits.

There are many association executives in very small organizations (1-2 person staff) who struggle to even get a partial subsidy of their own health insurance, any vacation time, or any type of contribution to a pension plan.

Additionally, I'm not sure there's any association that should be eager to spotlight how generous they may be at this point in time. Although there are state laws that may mandate family leave policies (paid vs. unpaid, length of time, based on number of employees) so on that one it's tough to differentiate what is following a legal requirement for corporations in a particular state vs. voluntary benefit.

As an association community we HAVE to figure out how to change the lack or minimal benefits in MANY associations and nonprofits - but a focus on the extreme hurts everyone in my opinion. And supposedly there are more "extraordinary perks" noted in the upcoming report. There sure better not be any gold-plated bathroom faucets in there.

Separately, I'd put my own association in the "Top Places to Work" department, but that's because of the right focus, expertise and innovation of the officers and directors, and the types of things we accomplish on behalf of the industry. I hope there's a category for that. Isn't that why we really work for associations when we COULD work anywhere else? Yes, association employees absolutely need benefits too - but focus on how to provide or expand for all, not just cheering the top.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said, cindy.