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Difference in work culture between third sector and private industry.

(45 Posts)
FredaFruitcake Fri 10-Feb-17 21:48:13

I've heard there's a massive difference in work culture between third sector and private industry, and that many people struggle to adapt.

I'll be starting a new job soon in the third sector - can anyone explain what this means, what the differences are?

Thank you smile

daisychain01 Sat 11-Feb-17 11:00:43

Third sector means not for profit, charitable organisations like Cancer Research, Save the Children etc

Main differences based on my knowledge mainly of Private Sector, but with strong links into charity are

How the businesses are run - often on a shoe-string or at least much lower budgets in third sector. Fewer mature formalised processes compared to private sector. This can create ambiguity and confusion, and lower efficiency for employees, compared to a more "well-oiled" machine of private sector.

Private sector companies are often shareholder value and pure profit driven driven, so can be really aggressive in terms of productivity targets and how employees are measured and treated. This reflects on the everyday culture how colleague relate to each other and collaborate ie much more competitive and dog eat dog.

Private sector will often give their employees many more fringe benefits compared to third sector. And salaries are higher across the board.

I don't expect the politics of organisations is any different between both sectors, where there are people, politics will always exist!

Junebugjr Sun 12-Feb-17 18:45:35

I've worked in both, but mostly in the third sector.
What I would advise, is to look at your job description regularly and set your boundaries firmly from early on, as charities etc, tend to take the piss.
Private sector maybe the same now as I haven't worked for them in years, but the third sector generally likes to get 'value for money' out of its staff, and will heap on lots of extra work for no reward. The admin systems are generally less efficient and not well thought through either, which can be exasperating.
It does have its good sides, but just to be aware.

LIZS Sun 12-Feb-17 18:49:06

Funding is often an issue in 3rd sector. A lot of time and energy is directed towards chasing this and justifying it , often without professional expertise and ime resources get wasted along the way. Contracts may be accordingly short term with little accountability for value and achievement as individuals move on.

AgentProvocateur Sun 12-Feb-17 18:56:34

I've worked in both (and the public sector) and IMVHO employee incompetence and capability is never dealt with in the third sector, and there is a higher proportion of people who are not good at their job. That and poor Trustees / governance make it a very difficult and frustrating sector to work in.

goteam Sun 12-Feb-17 19:33:13

AgentProvocateur spot on. I have only worked in the third sector and know nothing else but there are so many people who coast along doing bugger all while the other half of us are stretched to the limit. Whenever there are restructures with the chance to cut loose the dead wood, they never do, so genuinely hard working and talented employees leave getting burnt out.

I literally work with people who spend most of the day playing online sudoku and leave at 4 while patting themselves on the back for working for a charity.

I've never seen such waste. There is accountability and targets in the private sector. Good. The third sector should take note.

goteam Sun 12-Feb-17 19:37:23

I have a fundraiser in my team who has been there a year and not raised a penny. Still researching 'funding options'. Not been addressed.

LIZS Sun 12-Feb-17 19:42:56

Yes a culture of "oh so busy", stress related sickness, long meetings and conference calls which loosely review what hasn't happened since the previous one , all to run round in circles and to little effect.

goteam Sun 12-Feb-17 20:19:26

Yup LIZ. My senior management have monthly strategy days with lunch to review the business plan, which doesn't have smart targets, tangible outputs or real KPIs.

FlowLikeAHarpoon Sun 12-Feb-17 20:23:59

I've worked in three charities, and it was a bit of a mixed bag.

In one, everyone was committed to the cause and worked hard.
In the second, almost everyone was pretty lazy and did as little as possible. The third was mostly staffed by people of bewildering incompetence. It can be very hard to sack people in the third sector!

I'm not sure I would want to work for a charity again, but do I like the short hours..

IfNotNowThenWhenever Sun 12-Feb-17 20:30:31

Its not just harder to cut the dead wood at thew bottom in the third (and public) sectors. There are also plenty of managers who everyone knows are at best incompetent and at worst bullies, and they keep their jobs.
HR doesnt seem to have any teeth when it comes to eradicating this sort of thing.
Also, too many committees and steering groups, with a lot of policy making by consensus, not enough action.
In my experience, the private sector is less secure but more fluid.

Garnethair Sun 12-Feb-17 20:38:41

Nodding my head with every post. Several managers who've been in position for years who have never learnt to use the computer system and manage to blag their way through their working day being 'busy'. Others who work from home, but never even read their emails when doing so.

Change is very slow. Because the companies I've worked for aren't actually generating money, just spending it, there is no impetus to do things efficiently.

goteam Sun 12-Feb-17 20:45:10

The directors and CEO in my current charity are all privately educated Oxbridge so have the confidence and talk the talk but ultimately wouldn't have cut it in the private sector as they don't really work hard.

All our reports have basic research regurgitating old research and congratulatory cherry picked quotes from service users and the CEO talks at conferences saying this stuff that we all already know and other privileged people nod and make the right noises and I wish I could work in another sector frankly but it's all I know and charities are family friendly.

OP, you'll find it frustrating if you're used to a fast paced and efficient work environment!

goteam Sun 12-Feb-17 20:50:03

Garne I was line managed for a year recently by a manager who couldn't use our databases, would blag, name drop important people in meetings to distract and cover it, blame other factors and people for reports not getting done but just got moved to another department. She'll blag that for a while then move on.

goteam Sun 12-Feb-17 20:50:31

On £45k too

Junebugjr Sun 12-Feb-17 21:02:54

Just to reiterate what the poster put up previously about lots of time spent justifying to funders.
Lots and lots of time spent filling in a range of paperwork for the justifying which all duplicate each other other.
It's a mixed bag of lazy people and dogooders continually going over and above the funding criteria and then putting pressure on other staff to do the same.
The feeling that no one ever knows quite what they're doing.

Junebugjr Sun 12-Feb-17 21:05:17

goteam think I work in the same organisation as you grin

QueenLaBeefah Sun 12-Feb-17 21:14:05

I've worked in the third sector and if you want to work with a bunch of lazy, incompetent, unproductive people that never really achieve anything then it is the place for you.

I am far happier working in the private sector and wild horses wouldn't drag me back to a charitable organisation again.

Blankiefan Sun 12-Feb-17 21:15:59

I only worked for one charity and the rest of the time in private sector.

In my limited experience I found the charity to be largely less professional than any private sector business. For example, fundraisers spending a huge amount of their time on projects that didn't raise a lot but not calculating their time into the scant return on investment "analysis" they did. Or teams working without clear objectives. Or a lack of transparency in how individuals doing the same role in different areas were doing - no sharing of best practice; no team learning from less succesful work.

You couldn't pay me Enough to work in 3rd sector again. It did not end well.

scaryclown Sun 12-Feb-17 21:21:46

In my experience, third sector attracts a lot of people who 'know what to do' (in fact they don't 'know what to do' when nothing has been proposed, just that you shouldnt do whatever you are proposing you should do), but very few who like to do things. In short it attracts people who want to be in charge but dont have the skills. Politicians sniff arpund for board positions to piggy back on what you may achieve..but will inevitably just play unproductive power games that usually undermine the most competent. Paper reports are valued above delivery, being nice is valued more than being effective, and you can never trust people to do what they say. When you challenge them on this, do it carefully as they will often use you reminding them 'in the wrong way' toclaim its you that are the problem with them doing it, not the simple fact they haven't done it.

Meetings cpuld sometimes take an hour or more to start even when everyone was there because people would make a 'reasonable' excuse to male more tea, check on their child next door, or make a quick phonecall..which would be used by others to say ' well if we aremt all here should we postpone'.

'chairs' are popular if they make everyone feel like they've contributed by promising every idea will be adopted or 'looked at' but dont do them or enforce them. chairs who do say 'we said we would...x' are treated as though they are the very hitler.

Many disabled disadvantaged and marginalised people are exploited by beimg convinced that working for free is empowering, and they will be counted and added to funding bids as 'beneficiaries' when in reality they are working for nothing to effectively be used to raise funds to pay salaries of over qualified do-gooders. Trustees are absolutely useless and never read plans, policy documents, or regulations. Ypu are lucky if they turn up for meetings.

But its not all bad!

goteam Sun 12-Feb-17 21:22:58

There are a few low paid frontline workers in my charity, committed to the cause and going over and above, getting our name out there and in the papers which the CEO uses to justify our work, huge government grants and 6 figure salary. Also lots of well meaning volunteer fundraisers who let the paid fundraisers off the hook because they're doing the work. I used to voluntarily fundraiser for this charity. What a mug.

tovelitime Sun 12-Feb-17 21:32:22

On the other hand a well run charity is a fantastic place to work. Good fundraisers bring in significant amounts of money, the CEP has a clear vision of how to diversify fundraising streams to ensure that the cjrotu can weather changes in the fundraising sector. Supportive services are well run and make genuine changes to people's lives and the charity, led by a strong board of trustees is challenging and effective ensuring good governance and an effective operation.

Some charities are run in an amateur way, others are efficient, innovative and inspiring. Nothing in the world would get me back into the private sector. Working in the third sector is a vocation and you either love it or you don't, I don't think that there is much of an inbetween

TheBeanpole Sun 12-Feb-17 21:47:12

I've worked in the third sector, private and now public.

I don't think you can draw any sweeping generalisations- so much depends on the organisation and management. I've never worked harder than in the third sector (and for pretty tangible results too) and have found public loads worse for the slacking, endless pointless meetings and crappy systems.

However, some things which can be unique to third sector:
- answering to multiple stakeholders- your service users, your donors and your board- can lead to a bit of an identity crisis and annoying duplicate systems.
- investment in staff development can be poor- ime people move out to move up rather than get developed
-Some weak management and performance is not addressed-also ime HR people are often not great so there is often poor support for managers. But I don't think this is by any means unique to 3rd sector.
-'Founder syndrome'
-organisations often survive on everyone doing 20% more than they are supposed to. I was amazed when I started my current job that the office was practically empty by 6. So you need to set boundaries on your availability etc quite early.

When the 3rd sector works it can be incredible- I really miss working somewhere so mission driven, and if you have supportive management and can get the money you can really innovate. Another thing I have always liked is that in my area there is great collaboration between organisations, which is something I haven't really seen in the other two sectors.

Enjoy your new job!

Gazelda Sun 12-Feb-17 22:51:30

I've worked in both private and third sector.
I don't think I'd go back to private - it was too soul-less for me. Everything was done with the shareholder in mind.
Third sector can be tough, disorganised, inefficient, ineffective.
But it can also be full of passion, a desire to deliver excellence, workers all pulling in the same direction, flexibility and workplaces full of inspiration.
I've worked for a huge charity which was very well organised, acknowledged the need for investment in people and resources, and was transparent to its beneficiaries and donors.
I've worked for a small charity which was full of headless chickens, lacked strategy to work with finders to enable them to deliver services but still shambles on regardless.
I now work for a different small charity which is well run, has a clear business plan, everyone knows their role and what is expected of them, services are efficient and reviewed regularly to ensure they remain beneficial to the service users. Pay is poor, but the reward is extraordinary.

ShoutOutToMyEx Mon 13-Feb-17 00:00:29

I have a fundraiser in my team who has been there a year and not raised a penny. Still researching 'funding options'. Not been addressed.

Major donors, by any chance...?

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