This is Joanne O’Brien from CRH Law and I’m going to be talking to you today about managing the tensions between volunteers and employees. One of the many challenges facing not for profit organizations is how to manage the tensions that can sometimes exist between volunteers and employees. Everybody understands of course that the fundamental difference between the two groups is that employees have a contractual obligation to show up to work everyday and are paid for their efforts. Where there’s a large volunteer component to the workforce, who of course don’t have those obligations, then frictions and tensions can develop.
With employees reporting that volunteers are unreliable, they sometimes feel that their job maybe threatened by the volunteers and that there’s a general lack of interest in the job that they’re doing, whereas volunteers on the other hand, report that they don’t feel valued, there’s no clear management structure for them to go to if they’re having problems and they don’t receive enough training and development opportunities.
These tensions and frictions can result in lack of performance or real problems in actually delivering the service that the not for profit is funded to provide. It’s important that from a management perspective, you understand the obligations that you owe to each group of people and have strategies in place to manage the tensions that can arise. At CRH Law, we can help you to fully understand those obligations and also work with you to develop some tools that will help you to manage those tensions.