New Leading Edge Report Details Results of 4th Annual Employee Experience Survey

By Leading Edge

As the Jewish proverb states: “The day is short and work lasts a long time.”

2,087 hours, to be precise. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the average American spends that much time working in a year? – the majority of our waking hours. We commit such a significant portion of our lives to our jobs that we have an ethical obligation to ensure our time in the workplace is healthy, productive, and fulfilling. For Jewish nonprofit organizations, it’s critical to promote workplace cultures where everyone can thrive and do their best work.

In 2016, Leading Edge piloted an Employee Experience survey to support Jewish organizations to do just that – create great places to work. This week, we released the findings from our fourth annual survey, with responses from over 11,400 employees at 182 organizations. Since 2016, we have surveyed over 20,000 professionals – that’s more than 20% of the estimated workforce in the Jewish nonprofit sector.

Here are our top takeaways from this year’s report:

Organizations are becoming better places to work, generally

On average, the more times an organization takes the survey, the better its results. Those organizations that have taken the survey multiple times are integrating the findings into their day-to-day operations, and the results are measurably positive. Often the process of taking the survey and seeing the data meaningfully unpacked and acted upon by leaders demonstrates to employees that they are respected and valued – that their organization cares about their well-being and views them as key stakeholders.

Our sector does not represent our community

We already know that our sector is made up of majority women but led by men. And three times as many respondents to our survey identified as female than male. This year’s survey notes other findings about the discrepancy between the Jewish communal workforce and the North American Jewish community. While Jews of color represent an estimated 12-15% of the American Jewish population, only a tiny fraction of respondents (too small to quantify) identified as Jews of color. Jews of Russian-speaking descent comprise approximately 15% of American Jewry, but only 4% of respondents identified in this way.

Women’s experience at work is very different than men’s

Like many sectors in the United States, the Jewish nonprofit sector faces significant gender disparities. The gender gap for employees in our sector is most pronounced around two key factors: 1) compensation and 2) feelings of trust, respect, and psychological safety, including comfort in speaking up at work.

Salary and benefits are not everything

That said, the importance of having an equitable and transparent compensation philosophy cannot be overstated. How to fairly establish salaries and benefits continues to be a pain point for many organizations.

We have a lot to be proud of

The vast majority of employees at Jewish nonprofits express tremendous pride in their work and know how their work directly contributes to their organizational mission. Employees have confidence in their immediate managers, and feel cared for and respected by them.

And there’s a lot of room for improvement

Managers can do more to support their teams to do their best work – fundamental management practices are weak in Jewish organizations. And when it comes to how employees feel about their organization’s top leaders, open and honest two-way communication is critical, and yet it is almost always a challenge for organizations, especially larger ones.

Dr. Brené Brown says “The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.” Indeed, the survey process requires leaders to be brave. Through it, leaders solicit honest and confidential input, and explore with curiosity and intention the changes needed to transform their workplace culture. Our role at Leading Edge is to provide guidance and support as organizations hold up a mirror during this process.

We are honored to support the missions of these organizations by championing their efforts to create leading places to work where employees can deliver excellence and thrive for years to come.

Leading Edge will unpack the 2019 Employee Experience Survey findings further in the weeks and months to come. You can read the full survey report at: