In the world of work, we hopefully have a job we enjoy and are prosperous at. The primary reward is a paycheck. But when people volunteer, they do so for many reasons – they believe in the organization and its mission, they want to help provide an experience for their kids and others (like Scouting) or do some good for the community.
So how do we “pay” our volunteers?
A recent article in American Express Open Forum, a blog for small businesses, talks about the value of including employees as team members in an organization’s mission. Nobody wants to be treated like a machine, told to do a job someone else’s way, with little or no reward in terms other than a paycheck. A feeling of being included in the decision-making process, a hand in the outcome of your work, is important to just about all of us. Employers are discovering that collaborate efforts, where all concerned are listened to and involved in major decisions, and made part of the group that decides the course of action, makes for not only a better end product but greater employee satisfaction. For example: In my department at work, we are undertaking a major improvement project. Rather than the “braintrust” deciding what’s best for everyone, we are involving the end users in the design and the decision-making process. When the project is finished, we will have a much better system in place than if we had merely chosen what we felt was best, and the users will know that their preferences were made part of the final product.
A volunteer’s pay comes not in cash but in satisfaction, in the feeling that the organization that they believe in has been made better by their participation and involvement. This can only come when a volunteer is directly involved in a significant aspect of the organization’s operation. This must come without being second-guessed or micromanaged. We train our boys, then let them lead without our interference. We should do the same with our volunteers: give them autonomy and ownership, which leads directly to satisfaction. Please read the article, then come back and leave a comment on how you think the ideas put forth can benefit your unit and the volunteers who work so hard to make the Scouting program happen.