Before the pandemic, I was one of the millions of women "making it work." I was running The Adventure Project, raising a toddler, and pregnant with our second child.
I always wanted to be a working mom. But the reality felt like I was holding everything together with scotch tape and a prayer. One wrong move and everything unraveled. As a small example, while working in a co-working space, a guy kept booking the breast pumping room for his podcast recordings. Once, when childcare fell through, I brought our baby to a cocktail event. (I fed him a cheese plate for dinner, and he loved it). Don't get me started on the daily anxiety around delayed subways and daycare pick-ups.
"No problem" was my mantra. And I got good at jogging to daycare in a pencil skirt. But the truth is, making it work was very stressful.
When the pandemic hit, the band-aid was ripped off. And, the wound wasn't pretty.
I quickly realized that what I was doing before was nearly impossible with a toddler at home. Then, after I gave birth to our second child, I learned how hard it was to work late when no one is sleeping.
We built The Adventure Project on the belief that everyone deserves a good job.
So, I am embarrassed to say, it took me a year to shed the guilt and fear I had about my own role and devise a new work strategy.
I'll also point out that I'm better off than most. I can work remotely; I have a good husband and stable household income. Childcare is back (thank the Lord!); and I benefit from white privilege.
I also realized I'm the boss. I can change the rules. So, with the support of our Executive Board, my team and I are excited to announce these new benefits today:
- We operate on a flexible schedule. You pick your hours and work remotely. For example, I now work 7:30-3:30 pm. This schedule gives me time to play with my kids in the afternoons. Some on our team prefer to work at night and that’s fine, too. We all connect twice per week to check-in and then use Slack, etc. We’re all adults. It works.
- We now provide full health benefits to anyone working over 30 hours per week. Those that work less than 30, get a 30% pay increase to cover their own health needs. With so many people caring for kids and aging parents, we hope this gives someone the ability to continue working while receiving full health, dental, and vision coverage (their families are covered, too).
- For every job posting, we are including the pay. Transparency matters. You should know what we can pay before you spend time applying. We also believe it’s important to know what our current team earns, so we’re posting the pay rate for every staffer, too. There's no need to be secretive if everyone is paid fairly. Transparent and equitable pay should be the norm. It’s also proven to lead to better performance.
- We're hiring for four positions. Some roles are for 10-15 hours per week to start, others 30-40 hours. We created positions based on the estimated hours we need now. The goal is we can recruit some incredible people who are seeking something better and want more balance. We started hiring this way last year and found it enormously successful.
While this all sounds very utopian, I’ll shamelessly say this is better for The Adventure Project’s bottom line, too. This strategy enables us to bring in top talent while also keeping our budget lean. It also ensures we are ruthless in what we work on and how to best spend our time. No one is sitting in pointless meetings. We are all focused on what really matters - helping lift people out of poverty by giving them good jobs.
While the “Great Resignation” and “Shecession” continue, I hope it gives way to a new framework for how our society structures work. Because the “Traditional 9-5” doesn’t work for a lot of people. And nonprofits are notorious for low pay, long hours and poor management. We are here to prove that the old way doesn’t have to be THE way going forward.
I used to believe the hype that I had to work 80 hours a week to prove my commitment. Now I realize that’s just not sustainable, or fun. I’d also argue it’s not wise. My best ideas come when I’m playing with my kids (or, picking up legos for the hundredth time). People who have personal lives can still be deeply committed to their jobs.
Our organization is focused on solutions that save countless lives every year. It’s important. We need the best and brightest on our team so we can do our jobs as effectively as possible. Enabling a flexible and transparent work culture retains and nurtures talent, ensuring a better, more impactful organization.
This doesn’t mean we’re perfect. At least once per week my son interrupts my zoom calls by telling everyone he has pooped. But, we are striving to find ways to make work/life less… “poopy.”