Volunteers are essential for the successful running of any major event yet are often an undervalued and underused resource. To get the maximum benefit from your volunteers it is essential to manage them as you would your regular workforce.
Get Scheduled, creators of the sector’s latest employee scheduling software package, have compiled five useful tips to help event managers optimise their volunteer teams.
- Ensure volunteers know what is expected of them- Unlike regular events staff, volunteers may have little idea of the organisation required to deliver complex major events and can find the process overwhelming. You can help reassure volunteers by holding regular briefings so they know exactly what is required of them. Make sure you stress the importance of their role and the commitment you expect of them. Although volunteers want to have fun and enjoy the experience, this should not be at the expense of doing their job well.
- Maintain a professional approach – Effective workforce management means that you should treat volunteers with the same respectful authority as your regular staff. Be positive and remember that they have given up their time to assist with your event. However, volunteers need to be aware that you expect the same professionalism from them, particularly with regards to attendance and work standards. Don’t hesitate to weed out volunteers who are not fully committed and prepared to carry out the tasks required of them professionally.
- Communicate effectively with your volunteer team - you need to be very clear with your volunteers as to where you expect them to be and when. To make sure that they have the latest updated information you need to communicate in a way that is easy and convenient for them. Bear in mind that most people access data on-the-go these days. This is particularly true of volunteer events staff who tend to be students and rely heavily on their mobile phones for communication, including emails. You will find employee scheduling easier to manage if you are more adaptable and use your volunteers’ preferred communication channels.
- Invest in staff management tools - While budget constraints may make you cautious about allocating financial resources, effective workforce management is vital to the success of any major event. To ensure that staff are in the right place at the right time to carry out their duties, relying on spreadsheets can be a false economy. Investing in workforce management software will maximise the efficient use of volunteers as well as saving time and reducing stress.
- Make volunteers feel valued – As volunteers are giving up their time, they deserve a little praise, especially after a long or difficult day. A few treats or rewards such as sharing a cake or bottle of wine during breaks will go a long way to boost morale. Why not have a party after the event to say “thank you” to your volunteers…and encourage them to volunteer for the next event?