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Preventing and Addressing Volunteer Burnout

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  • You have a choice in sessions to attend. Your attendance that this one is evidence of your appreciation for volunteers and your recognition of all they contribute to your chapter.
  • Go around room, introduce yourself- what chapter are you from and why did you choose to attend this session? BREIFLY
  • Here are our learning objectives. We’ll touch on ways to combat volunteer burnout. It’s important to recognize that not everyone volunteers for the same reason, and the best way to hold onto your volunteers is to make sure you’re recognizing them in ways that tie back to their original motivation.
  • Volunteer job descriptions are a wonderful recruitment tool. It also helps you match the right person with the right role, which is important in increasing job satisfaction and retention. Volunteers also know exactly what they’re signing up for and for what duration, which helps decrease volunteer burnout.
  • I can’t understate the importance of recognizing the accomplishments of your volunteers and thanking them OFTEN. We’ll talk about some great ways to thank your volunteers and how to tie those recognition opportunities back to the reason they got involved with your chapter in the first place.
  • Share pair! What does burnout mean to you? What are some examples of burnout you’ve experienced in your chapter?
  • Here are our learning objectives. We’ll touch on ways to combat volunteer burnout. It’s important to recognize that not everyone volunteers for the same reason, and the best way to hold onto your volunteers is to make sure you’re recognizing them in ways that tie back to their original motivation.
  • People need to know what a job requires and weather they can do it; include the estimated time to complete each job and make sure you explain IN THE TEXT how that particular job connects with and serves the chapter’s mission. Also, every volunteer role should carry a term along with it– no volunteer should be asked to serve indefinitely. We’ll discuss volunteer job descriptions in more depth in just a few minutes.
  • Always try to avoid emergency situations or deadlines that will stress your volunteers. Leave plenty of time to accomplish tasks and plan events so nothing has to happen in a disorderly fashion at a moment’s notice under pressure.
  • Never let projects drag out. Define success from the start and make it achievable. If a project is especially long, divide it up by creating milestones. Blood banks count units, 12-step programs count months. Make sure you celebrate each milestone reached and remind volunteers how this milestone is bringing you closer to overall project success and your achievable goal.
  • No job should ever be too large for one busy person. Plan for contingencies so tasks can be reassigned if someone becomes sick or has an emergency. But remember, keep absent volunteers in the loop. Everyone is bound to miss a meeting here or there, so make sure those who couldn't attend know how things are progressing and what they need to do.
  • Make sure volunteers are comfortable coming to you if they have a problem. It’s better to know that a person can’t finish a job than to find it left undone with a deadline swiftly approaching when you thought it was taken care of. Preventing burnout is not just one person’s job. Volunteers need to take responsibility for reaching out for help, approaching their chair, speaking freely about issues they might have. Burnout is a systemic fix. Chairs need to set the tone as attitudes frequently come from the top. There is a strong correlation between the trust volunteers place in leadership and their willingness to speak up. Blessing from the top, but work from the middle.
  • Recognize that your volunteers have a lot on their plates at home and work, and with other organizations.
  • At the end of a task, show your appreciation! Volunteers will know they’ve donated their time and effort wisely, and will feel compelled to do so again. We’ll talk about this more in a few minutes.
  • Volunteer job descriptions are a wonderful recruitment tool. It also helps you match the right person with the right role, which is important in increasing job satisfaction and retention. Volunteers also know exactly what they’re signing up for and for what duration, which helps decrease volunteer burnout.
  • Without essential support, current volunteers, and especially leaders, run the risk of burnout.  This is the most common challenge for chapters prior to establishing a robust volunteer program: a few dedicated souls do all of the work and over time the work load becomes unsustainable.  Longevity and expansion for any nonprofit requires a constant influx of new volunteers attracted to the mission and inspired by the vision AND the continued recognition of long-term volunteers. 
  • One of the best ways to recruit new volunteers is through job descriptions. Many chapters have found it helpful to develop a concrete volunteer recruitment plan with specific recruitment tools and job descriptions are an especially essential component of any volunteer recruitment drive.
  • Establishing and constantly updating written policies on volunteer procedures, responsibilities, supervision, placement, restrictions, reporting, evaluation, recognition and termination is critical for a chapter.  Any good volunteer job description should answer some key questions:·       What is the job?·       Why is the job necessary, what is its purpose and how does it contribute to the overall operation of the chapter?·       How is the job done, what special expertise is involved and what are the steps necessary for completion?·       With whom does the volunteer work and to whom is the volunteer accountable?·       How much time is involved, how many days or months is the volunteer expected to commit and does the job have an expected completion date?Job descriptions should be written for every chapter role, from board members to committee members to administrative volunteers.  The job description is a planning tool to help your volunteers understand  expected results, involved tasks, required skills and other important details about the job.  A job description provides an organized means of creating continuity in a job from one volunteer to the next.  It is also a living document that should be revised as your program changes or as the volunteer develops during their service.Job descriptions are the building blocks of your volunteer program, insofar as all recruiting, interviewing, placing, supervising and evaluating is based on the information contained in the job description. The key to a good job description is to keep it short, succinct and clear. 
  • No matter what the task- there should be a definite start and end date, whether it’s a project that will only last a few weeks or a term of two years. If, after completing the “term” of office or the short-term task, a volunteer opts to re-enlist for another, that’s fantastic! But he should have that option rather than feeling he’s being asked to serve in perpetuity. This accomplishes two things: your volunteers won’t be as likely to burn out, and you’re more likely to enlist the help of others if they know exactly what they’re signing up for.Remember to advertise these shorter-term commitments; you may find that people who initially stick they toes in the water by volunteering for a smaller-scale project or task end up enjoying it and opt to become more involved later on.
  • I can’t understate the importance of recognizing the accomplishments of your volunteers and thanking them OFTEN. We’ll talk about some great ways to thank your volunteers and how to tie those recognition opportunities back to the reason they got involved with your chapter in the first place.
  • Recognition!! From the get-go, it’s important to find out what motivates your volunteers and what they want to get out of the experience in order to meet their expectations and yours, expand on their talents, and keep them engaged. Knowing their long-term goals will enable your chapter to carve out a detailed volunteer path for them to progressively get more involved in activities that will enhance your mission.Determine the most appropriate way to highlight your volunteers’ accomplishments and recognize how their work affects your chapter’s mission. If could be as simple as a thank you note or as grand as a standing ovation onside at a conference– if you know their motivation, you will know how to reward them.Volunteers are a source of free labor and are integral to the running of chapters.  However, because they are not paid, chapters must devise other kinds of rewards to keep them motivated and involved.  This might mean identifying challenging tasks for volunteers when what the organization really needs is help with more mundane jobs.  Furthermore, the process of recruiting, training and retaining volunteers is not always easy.  But without volunteers, chapters would simply not be able to function, and these volunteers are a vital component of the USGBC community.Why should chapters focus on the needs of their volunteers?  Very simply, if a chapter wants to be able to recruit and retain people who work for no money, it must determine another way to inspire satisfaction and fulfillment.  A volunteer seeks meaningful responsibility and wants to be taken seriously. 
  • ·       Affiliation - this is an important factor for volunteers who: Enjoy being part of an organization, club or team Enjoy opportunities to get together with others with similar beliefs, backgrounds, goals and being associated with a well-known cause or group Don't find working alone or for an obscure organization very satisfyingYou can thank these volunteers through social get-togethers, organization t-shirts, name-badges or posting a list of all organization volunteers in a public area. Accomplishment - these volunteers: Enjoy seeing concrete evidence of their work, such as piles of finished paperwork or names checked off on a list Like practical, tangible projects Don't like working on projects where abstract goals are pursued or achievements are hard-wonYou can offer these volunteers certificates of accomplishment at specific stages in their work, continuing education or credential credits, or a special place to put completed projects. Power and Influence - some volunteers: Like persuading people to see or do things their way or enjoy showing people a better, easier way of accomplishing an objective Don't want to be in an insignificant position, but like positions where they help make decisions or train peopleThese volunteers will appreciate titles or rank insignia, a special parking spot for the month or involvement as a speaker at organization workshops. It is important for chapters to evaluate their volunteer programs frequently to ensure that there is an effective system of recognition in place and that appropriate resources are being allocated.
  • Hundreds of volunteers give their time to USGBC chapters across the country and it is extremely important to frequently thank and recognize these individuals.  Awards luncheons, a mention in a chapter’s e-newsletter or annual report, framed certificates of merit or other clear indications of the chapter’s appreciation go a long way toward meeting a person's need to feel appreciated.  Recognizing and thanking your volunteers are the best ways to retain the great people you have on board, as well as to attract new volunteers to serve your chapter.  Here are some other ideas for acknowledging your volunteers: ·       Thank you notes sent by the chapter chair or committee chair to volunteers at various points throughout the year·       Thank you notes sent by the chapter chair or committee chair to a volunteer’s employer·       A phone call to a volunteer who contributed to the success of a particular event or program, within three days after the event·       Invitations to special chapter events or VIP seating ·       Annual volunteer appreciation party or dinner·       Asking your volunteers to stand up and be recognized at chapter events·       Including a “volunteer spotlight” feature in your e-newsletter that highlights the contributions of a different volunteer every month·       An honorary lapel pin signifying length of service to the chapter or the completion of a special task
  • Now we’re going to do a little popcorn: What type of volunteer recognition activities are you doing at your local chapter? How are you matching those recognition opportunities to your volunteers’ primary motivators?
  • Retaining volunteers is all about motivation.  The art of motivating volunteers lies not only in knowing how to tap into a given motivator, but in being able to discern a volunteer's particular combination of needs.  One way to do that is to periodically poll the volunteers.  Discuss their rating of the relative importance of the motivation factors.If a volunteer ranks “professional networking” and “social panache” as primary motivating factors, you will need to make sure she has a job which does indeed enable her to meet important people and which is highly visible in the community.  To make sure that a volunteer’s employer is aware of her contribution, send a letter of commendation to her supervisor.Often, problems of volunteer retention can be traced to lack of motivation and recognition for their efforts.
  • Some chapters ask all volunteers to sign a formal pledge when they step into a new role at the chapter.  This can help underscore the importance of the job the volunteer is taking on and ensure that the volunteer understands that their contribution will have a significant impact.  The Kentucky Chapter’s pledge is:
  • But what if you’re still losing people?
  • Because USGBC chapters rely so heavily on volunteers, it is important to hold on to those individuals who are committed to the work of the chapter and to their individual role.  The best way to retain good volunteers is to make sure they are assigned clear tasks and rewarded for their work.  A chapter that is having difficulty retaining their volunteers should ask themselves the following questions:·       Are volunteer tasks and activities well-organized and properly assigned?·       Are volunteer roles described in writing?·       Is there a system of review and follow-up to verify tasks are completed?·       Are volunteers serious about their work?·       Are they committed to the mission?·       Have they been oriented and told about the importance of the work that they do?·       How are we meeting the needs of our volunteers that brought them to our chapter in the first place?·       Is there a system in place that rewards our volunteers for a job well done?·       What kind of volunteer recognition activities has the chapter engaged in over the past three months?  Six months?  Twelve months?
  • Here are our learning objectives. We’ll touch on ways to combat volunteer burnout. It’s important to recognize that not everyone volunteers for the same reason, and the best way to hold onto your volunteers is to make sure you’re recognizing them in ways that tie back to their original motivation.
  • Volunteer job descriptions are a wonderful recruitment tool. It also helps you match the right person with the right role, which is important in increasing job satisfaction and retention. Volunteers also know exactly what they’re signing up for and for what duration, which helps decrease volunteer burnout.
  • I can’t understate the importance of recognizing the accomplishments of your volunteers and thanking them OFTEN. We’ll talk about some great ways to thank your volunteers and how to tie those recognition opportunities back to the reason they got involved with your chapter in the first place.

Transcript

  • 1. Preventing and Addressing Volunteer Burnout
    June 2010
    Meredith Kennedy
  • 2.
  • 3. About Me
    • Nonprofit junkie
    • 4. Managed large volunteer programs
    • 5. Fanatical volunteer
    • 6. Board member
    • 7. Gardener
    • 8. Rescuer of dogs
  • 9.
  • 10. #1- List at least seven ways to combat volunteer burnout.
  • 11. #2- Describe the importance of volunteer job descriptions in setting expectations for volunteer time commitments.
  • 12. #3- Identify how to retain and motivate volunteers through recognition and appreciation.
  • 13.
  • 14. #1- List at least six ways to combat volunteer burnout.
  • 15. 1. Provide job descriptions
    Photo by HoriaVarlan
    L.O. #1
  • 16. 2. Leave plenty of time to plan and execute
    Photo by HoriaVarlan
    L.O. #1
  • 17. 3. Set clear project deadlines and stick to them
    Photo by HoriaVarlan
    L.O. #1
  • 18. 4. Delegate tasks and plan for contingencies
    Photo by HoriaVarlan
    L.O. #1
  • 19. 5. Keep lines of communication open
    Photo by HoriaVarlan
    L.O. #1
  • 20. 6. Respect volunteers’ time
    Photo by HoriaVarlan
    L.O. #1
  • 21. 6. Recognize, recognize, recognize
    Photo by HoriaVarlan
    L.O. #1
  • 22. #2- Describe the importance of volunteer job descriptions in setting expectations for volunteer time commitments.
  • 23. Workload
    L.O. #2
  • 24. Photo:JiPs_Stick
  • 25. Volunteer Job Descriptions Should Address:
    What is the job?
    Why is the job necessary?
    What are the steps necessary for completion?
    To whom is the volunteer accountable?
    How much time is involved?
    When is the expected completion date?
    L.O. #2
  • 26. Completion Dates
    Should be incorporated into every job description
    Two weeks? Two years?
    Give the option to re-enlist
    Promote short-term tasks
    L.O. #2
  • 27. #3- Identify how to retain and motivate volunteers through recognition and appreciation.
  • 28. L.O. #3
  • 29. Motivators
    Mission-driven
    Affiliation
    Accomplishment
    Power and Influence
    L.O. #3
  • 30. Recognition Ideas
    Annual appreciation party
    Volunteer spotlight in e-newsletter
    Framed certificates of merit
    Thank you notes to volunteer OR employer
    Phone call within three days of effort
    Invitations to special events or VIP seating
    Honorary lapel pin
    L.O. #3
  • 31. L.O. #1
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertbanh/3323854557/sizes/l/
  • 32. Retention
    Create a positive volunteer experience
    Sense of meaningfulness of work
    Voice within your chapter
    Connection to mission and membership
    Recognizing volunteers according to their motivation
    L.O.#3
  • 33. Because I support the vision and mission of USGBC National and the Kentucky Chapter, I would like to contribute my time and talents to the Kentucky Chapter and help transform the built environment in our commonwealth.  I support and adhere to the USGBC Triple Bottom Line Guiding Principle.  I understand that my volunteer efforts are valued, appreciated and needed during this crucial time in the Kentucky Chapter’s formation and will have a positive impact for our fellow citizens for generations.  I have carefully considered my engagement with the USGBC Kentucky Chapter and have chosen to personally commit as an active volunteer fulfilling the roles and responsibilities outlined to me.  My word is my pledge.
    L.O.#3
  • 34.
  • 35. Ask Yourself
    Do we have volunteer job descriptions?
    Is there a system of review and follow-up?
    Are volunteers taking their job seriously and are they committed to the mission?
    Have they been oriented and told about the importance of the work that they do?
    Are we meeting their needs?
    What kind of volunteer recognition activities has the chapter engaged in over the past three months? Six? Twelve?
    L.O.#3
  • 36. #1- List at least seven ways to combat volunteer burnout.
  • 37. #2- Describe the importance of volunteer job descriptions in setting expectations for volunteer time commitments.
  • 38. #3- Identify how to retain and motivate volunteers through recognition and appreciation.