We’ve just finished two weeks on the road of book events for my new book, Happy Healthy Nonprofit, co-authored with Aliza Sherman. During many of the Q/A sessions, we heard from many nonprofit professionals who were feeling impact of a perpetual cycle of outrage. The thing is it has only been a few weeks and the environment nonprofits find themselves operating in is going to last for a while. Nonprofits have carefully think about how best to channel their energy while working and living in the midst of an outrage storm is going to drain energy.
As part of researching and writing the book, we interviewed hundreds of nonprofit professionals about how they create a culture of well being in the workplace. I reached to fellow NTEN board member, Jason Shim, who works for Pathways to Education in Canada, who shared what their organization does to create community and well being in their nonprofit. It is pretty simple. They have a communal meal together.
His organization combines healthy eating with communal meals.
“As an experiment, we decided to pick up a crockpot from the Canadian Craigslist, and that was the beginning of Crockpot Mondays,” explains Jason Shim, Associate Director, Digital Strategy and Alumni Relations at Pathways. “All meals must be vegan and gluten-free, and the food must be consumed with others in the staff kitchen – no grabbing and going. Crockpot Mondays is part of the fabric of Pathways because people mention it to job candidates as a perk of working at our organization. Crockpot Mondays has allowed our 50 member staff to share their culinary talents, as well as connect with one another over meals that have been meticulously prepared.”
The photos in this post are from this week’s Crockpot Monday at Jason’s organization. To help organize it, they have a shared google document and encourage staff to sign up. Jason has mentioned that word has spread about this workplace ritual when people apply for jobs. It is considered a good workplace perk and a sign that his organization has a supportive culture.
Who knew that team building for your nonprofit can take place at the lunch table? Researchers led by Kevin Kniffin, of Cornell University, discovered that communal meals can help with team building and more effective work together. Some might view preparing and eating food together or what is called “commensality,” as not meriting management interest. But Kniffin and his colleagues point out that eating is such a primal behavior that it can be extraordinarily meaningful if done together.
What if your nonprofit created opportunities during the week to take a break from the bad news and shared a communal meal together?