Birnbach Communications

August Issue of “Leadership Matters” Showcases Flexible Work Models, Case Studies

Demonstrates the win-win as nonprofit organizations attract, retain employees


Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/14/2006 --Facing an extraordinary leadership deficit projected at more than 640,000 senior positions over the next decade, according to a white paper from the Bridgespan Group, the nonprofit sector needs multiple strategies to attract and retain talent. One opportunity is to develop and implement flexible work arrangements. The August issue of “Leadership Matters” offers best practices and real-life examples of how nonprofits have used various kinds of “flex” arrangements to attract and retain good managers, and benefit their organizations, employees, and beneficiaries.

Once thought of as solely the domain of working mothers, flexible work arrangements are increasingly important to other groups as well, including older workers considering their options for “post-retirement” work. The 2005 MetLife Foundation/Civic Ventures Survey found that 58 percent of Americans age 50 to 70 said the option of part-time work would make them “very likely” to consider taking a job while 67 percent cited “work hours not flexible enough to meet my schedule” as one reason they might not be able to continue to work after “retirement.”

Published by Bridgestar, a nonprofit initiative of the Bridgespan Group dedicated to attracting, connecting and supporting senior leaders for the sector, “Leadership Matters” is part of a robust portfolio of offerings to help both nonprofit organizations and senior leaders make meaningful, appropriate matches. Each month “Leadership Matters” picks a different theme designed as a conversation about how to build and sustain effective nonprofit organizations. The newsletter is available to Bridgestar members or, for a complimentary subscription, please email

According to Laurie Young, co-founder and Principal of Flexible Resources Inc. and co-author of “The End of Work As We Know It,” who was interviewed for the current issue, “Flexibility has become increasingly important to many different groups. Working mothers remain the most prominent group when we talk about part-time and flexible arrangements, but fathers are also becoming more likely to want some flexibility, as are both men and women with elder care issues. Generation X employees feel strongly about flexibility – one interesting statistic is that Gen Xers are three times more likely to quit a job due to lack of flexibility than their Boomer counterparts. And the Boomers are starting to think about winding down their careers, but aren’t quite ready for full retirement, so part-time or other flexible arrangements are very attractive to this large group of potential employees.”

Flexible arrangements can be a huge win-win situation because employers are able to attract and retain a more diverse mix of employees, who tend to be happier, more productive, and more loyal as a result. Additional reasons to adapt flexible arrangements include the impact of a global economy, increased costs of commuting, while technology makes it easy to be productive anywhere and anytime. “The combination of individual needs and economic realities leads to greater willingness to pursue and accept a variety of flexible arrangements,” Young adds.

However, embracing flexible arrangements can be challenging for organizations and employees. For example, both need to think about results, not merely 9-to-5 face-time. And it’s critical that the arrangements be structured appropriately because all too often part-time employees are paid 80 percent of their salary while maintaining 100 percent of their work and responsibilities.

From an organizational and employees, keys to making flexible arrangements successful include:

1. Start by hiring highly-skilled, self-motivated people with the energy and drive to succeed.
2. Think outside the box. Don’t limit yourself to five days a week, 9-to-5.
3. Work hard to clearly articulate roles, deliverables, and expectations on both ends. In other words, measure results, not face-time.
4. Fully utilize technologies that allow for productive off-site and off-hours work.
5. Invest in making sure that everyone – even those who work only a day a week or almost 100 percent in a virtual office – feels connected to the organization, in terms of both mission and people.

“Given the unprecedented leadership deficit in the nonprofit sector, organizations increasingly need to adapt flexible work arrangements. The ability to accommodate their needs will be seen as an extremely attractive proposition for potential employees,” says David Simms, Managing Director, Bridgestar. “In fact, at Bridgestar, a significant percentage of our people work a variety of flexible arrangements – including half of our senior leadership team. We have people who work ‘virtually’ from home; people who work very flexible part-time arrangements; people who work on a contract basis; even people who work on a seasonal basis. By being so flexible, we have been able to recruit extremely talented people to our ranks whom we would not otherwise have been able to attract, and they have made tremendous contributions to building our success. What’s worked at Bridgestar can work for other nonprofit organizations.”

The current issue of “Leadership Matters” is available at: Subscriptions are available to all Bridgestar members. For a complimentary subscription, please email

About Bridgestar
Bridgestar, an initiative of the Bridgespan Group, is a nonprofit organization providing talent-matching services, content, and tools designed to help organizations build strong leadership teams and individuals pursue career paths as nonprofit leaders. Bridgestar’s goal is to attract, connect, and support senior talent, leading to greater organizational effectiveness and social impact.