Think about the last time you volunteered at an event or for an organization. Think about all the work you got done. Think about how enjoyable the experience was. Volunteer coordinators have a knack for organizing people, coordinating efforts, and accomplishing a goal while keeping a smile on everyone’s face. Why couldn’t a boss do the same?
What drives this difference? It comes down to a few factors:
- Volunteers are giving up other opportunities and their time.
- When someone cares about a cause, they want to do a good job.
- Everyone is choosing freely to be there.
So here’s the thing: as a manager, you can see incredible gains from your staff by simply treating them like volunteers.
Let’s unpack that.
That is not to say you should not pay them for their work. Professional, profitable labor should be compensated fairly. But here’s how the employee-to-volunteer paradigm shift can benefit your team and your organization.
When you recognize that your staff members are giving up other opportunities to work with organizations to be a part of your team, you’ll realize just how valuable their time is.
Just think about all the opportunities your skilled employees have. They’re highly skilled and professional, and every day they become more experienced. They have the opportunity to pursue new careers. They could stay at home with their kids. They could return to school. Their opportunities are endless. When you realize this, it’s obvious that your team members’ time and energies should be valued as if they were volunteering.
Volunteers care and accomplish amazing things. Employees who care can do the same.
When someone gives up their time and energies for free, it’s because they care about the cause. Employees who care about their organization are consistently its best performers. Engaged employees are involved and interested in the success of their companies. How can you do this? Involve your employees in decisions. Ask for their input and explain the rationale. Before you tell them how to do something, tell them why they’re doing it.
Employees and volunteers choose to work.
Employees always have choices in their career. They chose to apply for the job they have now. They choose everyday to come into work. They choose whether or not they will look for a new job. Even though it sometimes feels like our jobs force us to do things, our economy allows us to freely leave and freely join organizations.
In short, thinking about employees as volunteers offers a ripe opportunity for a paradigm shift in management. Overnight, you can enact a meaningful difference in your organization. Employees who are valued like volunteers are are engaged, interested, and vested in the success of their companies.