When an organization involves volunteers in high-responsibility, long-term roles, volunteer turnover can be a program killer. It's vital that organizations continually look for ways to ensure that volunteers are well-supported, that volunteers feel their concerns are heard and addressed promptly, that volunteers feel respected and valued, etc., but screening is also vital to help screen in the right people for high-responsibility, long-term volunteer roles, particularly those where the volunteer will work with clients and the general public, and to screen out people who may be better in shorter-term assignments or assignments where they would not work with clients or the general public, or who would not be appropriate in any role at the organization.
While volunteer managers are much more than HR managers, there are resources from the HR management world that can be helpful in the new paradigm of volunteer involvement / community engagement. For instance, this article from workforce.com on screening and hiring employees with an eye to their attitude can help volunteer managers seeking to create a screening process that will keep turnover low for high-responsibility, long-term volunteer roles.
(note that you will have to register to read articles on workforce.com, but registration is free)
The article notes that the idea of hiring for attitude has been made famous by such companies as Southwest Airlines and Nordstrom. One CEO of a real estate services company in New Jersey, which traditionally has a high-turnover rate, used various books about this model to develop his own test to measure five qualities among potential candidates. Such an assessment tool could easily be adapted at nonprofit organizations looking to reduce turnover and create a particular type of culture among long-term, high-commitment volunteers.
The recruiter or hiring manager administers the test verbally, face-to-face or by phone. One of the qualities sought is demonstrated integrity, measured through a series of questions about ethical behavior. Another quality sought is passion, which candidates can demonstrate through a hobby or a personal project where the candidate succeeded (not just through a paid or volunteer role).
The third quality test—longevity—determines whether the candidate is looking for a job or a career. Adapted for a volunteer model, the goal could be to see if the volunteer is looking for a long-term relationship with an organization or cause through volunteering.
The fourth step measures positive attitude and asks candidates to describe a positive customer service experience. It also asks how the candidate’s friends would describe the candidate’s personal characteristics. The final element of the test measures the candidate’s knowledge of tasks that are relevant to the job and the company’s mission and role.
What could the assessment questions actually look like? Some very general ideas:
Recruiting Local Volunteers To Increase Diversity Among the Ranks
Having plenty of volunteers usually isn't enough to say a volunteering program is successful. Another indicator of success is if your volunteers represent a variety of ages, education-levels, economic levels and other demographics, or are a reflection of your local community. Most organizations don't want volunteers to be a homogeneous group; they want to reach a variety of people as volunteers (and donors and other supporters, for that matter). This resource will help you think about how to recruit for diversity, or to reach a specific demographic.
Virtual Volunteering Myths
Common misconceptions about virtual volunteering versus the reality of the practice.
Research on online volunteering
All of the academic research and journal articles about online volunteering and online community engagement.
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