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Job Quality in Non-Profit Organizations

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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This report is an important assessment of the quality of jobs in Canada’s non-profit sector compared to for-profit businesses and quasi-government organizations. Drawing on a 1999 Statistics Canada survey, the report examines various aspects of job quality: the incidence of temporary and part-time employment; unpaid overtime; scheduling flexibility; earnings; access to benefits; satisfaction with pay and benefits; and overall job satisfaction. The refrains heard in the report – non-profit staff are well-educated, often work in part-time or temporary positions, work significant overtime, and receive limited pay and benefits – will be familiar to those working in the arts.

The report examines whether there is a trade-off between the intrinsic benefits of working in non-profits (i.e., commitment to a mission) and financial and other working conditions. The authors also question whether there should be a trade-off at all.

Although the report covers a range of non-profit sectors, arts managers will be particularly interested in the findings for the “culture, recreation and associations” (CRA) sub-sector. Of the non-profit sub-sectors, the CRA component has the highest percentage of employees in temporary jobs (19%), the lowest percentage in part-time positions (24%), and the highest percentage working unpaid overtime (33%). All of these figures are high compared to other sectors of the labour force. The CRA sub-sector also has the highest percentage of employees working flexible hours (52%) of any labour force segment (non- profit, for-profit or quasi-government).

Average hourly earnings for all different levels of employees in the CRA area (managers, professionals, technical/trades, and clerical/administrative) are all toward the low end of the scale compared to other labour market sectors. Benefits coverage is also relatively low in the CRA component. In a competitive market situation, this spells difficulty attracting and retaining staff. It’s not surprising, then, that over one-quarter (27%) of CRA employees express dissatisfaction with their pay and benefits.

The authors also link human resource issues to overall funding concerns: “Insufficient funding typically means that staff are poorly paid and overworked.” The report makes clear that non-profits have significant challenges in securing adequate funding to meet the needs of both clients and staff.

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