I stated a new job about a month ago at HOPE Works in Burlington, Vermont. My work is very different than my previous job in student affairs but I am finding connections, places where I can learn and so far it feels right.
What has struck me in my new position is the non-competitive nature of the workplace. In my previous workplace it seemed that all of the employees at my level were vying for the attention of the supervisor. My fellow student affairs practitioners wanted to rise to the top, receive the praise in the middle of the meeting, have it be known that their idea was chosen, etc. Here, we work together to come to the best solution and put our minds together if something is a challenge. I feel a sense of camaraderie that was simply non-existent in my student affairs experience.
There are a lot of reasons why this might be true but the ones I’ve been thinking about so far are:
1) My new workplace is small. There are about the number of employees here total as there were people in my position at my last place of employment. When you’re small, your positions become much more interconnected, you rely on one another in different ways.
2) The historical roots of the work. Student affairs work comes from and exists within a place of privilege: higher education. Non-profit work and specifically, feminist work, tries to subvert that framework. This seems to be an important distinction in the way I’m experience my new environment.
3) My new workplace is passionate. In my student affairs experience, there were so many burnt out practitioners. In my new workplace folks are not only not burnt out, there are policies in place to ensure folks don’t get burnt out like, a self-care budget, flexible scheduling and lots of time off.
I know I’m not fully acclimated; it’s only been about a month, so perhaps my thoughts will change. Only time will tell.
What else? What makes a workplace healthy? Can competition exist with camaraderie?