Developed from meaningful work and business ethics, we investigate the motivational effect of meaningful work on paid staff (not volunteers) with a “shortage” of ethical employment practices situated in the Not-for-Profit sector. We tested the traditional notion of meaningful work by nature and by line manager support (under its business-like practices) to compensate for the “sacrifice” (low pay and job stress caused by poor employment terms) of front line staff working alongside professional managers paid the market rate. Using a mixed-method case study, we employed SEM modelling to analyse a staff survey of 125 valid responses and administrative records of staff resignation, alongside interviews. The results show that meaningful work by nature and by line manager support are positively and significantly associated with job satisfaction but neither has a significant effect on staff resignation action. There is no empirical evidence to support the compensating effect of meaningful work by nature; meaningful work by line manager support has a stronger effect only through reduced job stress, rather than compensating for the low pay, in preventing resignation. The qualitative analysis reveals that continued low pay and using precarious employment contracts have evoked the questioning of ethics of employment practices in this sector. We discuss the implications and suggest further areas of research.
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This is a type of legal contract in which the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours, and employees do not have to accept the work offered by an employer. It seems “fair” and give both sides “flexibility”, but actually offers the employer flexibility at the costs of the employees’ job insecurity due to power-imbalance.
Staff turnover intention was collected in the survey, which is significantly and positively correlated with resignation action. We use the record since it is more accurate.
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Wang, W., Seifert, R. The End of Meaningful Work in the Not-for-Profit Sector? A Case Study of Ethics in Employee Relations Under the New Business-Like Operation Regime. J Bus Ethics 181, 1–14 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-021-04891-4