The value of working in the charitable sector

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The problem currently keeping charity CEOs up at night is their ability to attract and retain quality staff, writes David Crosbie, who argues it’s time for charities to actively engage in the national level in the development of more favorable and practical employment policies.

For most charities, the challenge is to survive into the future and continue to make a difference. In this larger existential challenge, the issue currently keeping charity CEOs up at night is their ability to attract and retain quality staff.

Staff and volunteers are the heart and soul of most charities. The way staff and volunteers carry out their duties is a critical factor in the effectiveness of charities across Australia.

Over the past 12 months, CCA has engaged in many conversations with our members and others about the myriad ways that staffing shortages and increased competition for qualified employees are restricting organizational capacity.

Charities are not alone in having difficulty attracting qualified staff and dealing with high levels of burnout. Staffing shortages affect many industries and many different job levels. But where once the flexibility and feel-good factor of working for a charity could be a real advantage in the job market, cost-of-living pressures have made wages increasingly higher. attractive and COVID has resulted in many other workplaces offering flexible work options.

This week, the ACC wrote to new Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Minister of Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke asking for an active role in the development of national employment policies and other critical issues.

As the ACC has pointed out, there is a compelling case for charities to be strongly represented in key forums like the upcoming National Jobs Summit.

Australia’s 55,000 charities employ over 1.38 million Australians, or 10.5% of the Australian workforce (ACNC report – 2020 figures). When you add non-profit Australia, we collectively employ around 2.5 million Australian workers (ATO data).

Despite the size of our employment footprint, charities typically don’t belong to top employer groups, aren’t generally considered large employers, and tend to be left out of conversations about the employment and productivity gains, although charities have a major contribution to make in this area. Region.

The CCA argued that as newly appointed ministers in the Albanian government, the Treasurer and Minister of Employment each have an opportunity to reset the way the charity sector is perceived and treated by the government.

As part of a new government committed to working together, we hope you will show a less myopic view of employment in Australia when planning and implementing new employment initiatives, including the major national employment summit. Charities are not just looking to sit at the table in these important discussions, we are looking to have our experience recognized and factored into future planning for the benefit of the 1.38 million workers we employ and of all the communities we serve.

The main concern for most charities today is the ability to recruit, develop and retain the qualified staff needed to ensure that critical care and support services continue to operate effectively in all communities across Australia.

CCA members also raised concerns about multiple and overlapping workplace reward systems, financial incentives that lead to casualization of the charitable workforce, outsourcing of lead roles to placement, tax structures and payment systems that act as barriers to employment support and engagement options, difficulties in accessing qualified and experienced personnel, and limited access to career development opportunities. appropriate career and support. We know there are no quick fixes to these issues, but we also know they have a real impact on our productivity….

As your work unfolds over the months and years to come, we hope you will keep in mind the invaluable social and economic contributions of charities. We would like not only to be appreciated for what we do, but to be directly involved in shaping the national policies that determine our effectiveness in building thriving communities across Australia….

We know that with the right approach and a release from certain constraints, we can both increase our productivity and value what it means to work in the charitable sector.

Labor issues aren’t going away anytime soon, nor are rising wages, inflation and cost of living pressures.

As we have seen during the pandemic, sometimes it takes a crisis to drive innovation. We’ve already seen some pretty bold new moves, like Our Community piloting a four-day workweek. Other charities are restructuring, removing certain roles and rethinking the way work is done to ensure that staff with more skills and knowledge are fully utilized and properly compensated.

At the heart of reframing and restructuring charitable workplaces is the recognition that having the opportunity to make a difference through our work still carries some weight. We all want to be proud of what we do. We all want new opportunities to be more effective. And for many people, including some who turn to for-profit charities, making a difference is even more important than before the pandemic.

But as many charity leaders are now finding, in today’s job market, making a difference may no longer be enough.

Charities clearly need to actively engage at the national level in developing more supportive and practical employment policies, but we also need to recognize that real change is happening in employment practices across our sector.

Have you recently asked what people think about working or volunteering at your organization? If not, maybe it’s time to do it.

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