Motivating and Inducting Volunteers
The volunteer’s first experience within the club is a vital time in their retention and even the smallest club should have an induction process which provides all volunteers with information:
- About the club structure
- Club contacts
- Who will help them over the first few sessions
- Their responsibilities (a role outline)
- Club policies (child protection, code of practice, etc)
- Details of how to claim expenses, etc.
This is often called a 'Welcome Pack'. It will also help with the integration of the new volunteer if they have a main point of contact; this is when the recruitment of a volunteer coordinator is really useful.
Do not assume that people who have been players at the club know about how it runs or the range of volunteer roles – ensure that they also have a supportive induction into the team.
It is vital to communicate clearly with all of your volunteers. Nothing frustrates a volunteer more than not being kept up to date or 'in the loop' – it is important to ensure that your volunteer workforce is included in the overall club communications and that the Club Volunteer Coordinator has regular contact with all the volunteers.
Top Tips for communication include the following:
- Ensure all volunteers know the phone number/contact details of either a volunteer representative or the Club Volunteer Coordinator (communication should flow two ways and they need to be encouraged to keep in touch with the club, as well as the club keeping in touch with them).
- Hold volunteer briefing meetings (these can be useful once or twice a year, but don't hold them too often).
- Send messages by text and email (particularly popular with younger volunteers). Or put key messages on your club website if you have one
- Include a volunteer page in the club newsletter
Keeping the team motivated
All volunteers, however dedicated to your club, will need help with their motivation. Motivation will be gained in a number of ways and you need to consider why people are volunteering in order to cater for their needs.
Remember - satisfaction comes from doing something you feel is worthwhile and often challenging.
Motivating your team of volunteers will depend on:
- their enjoyment of the roles
- the variety and challenge offered
- the recognition and reward programmes you have in place
- good communication
- meeting their needs, as well as those of the club
- ensuring they feel wanted and valued
- the provision of training for them
Skills and training
Skills and training can be a key retention tool. However, it can be a problematic subject when managing volunteers. Some people are keen to develop their knowledge and skills and see volunteering as an ideal way of doing this. Others, however, just want to turn up, do their task and go away again.
Skills and training should always be 'sold' as a positive reward for volunteers, although not all will welcome it! Well-trained people will increase the retention of your volunteers, through helping them to focus and feel confidence in their ongoing contribution.
Skills and training events can be motivational for volunteers and they can be a great time to communicate with the team. Most people also feel much more secure in their role if they have received some form of training and support on the technical area in which they are involved, even if it is basic information about what to wear, how to manage people at an event, etc.
You can organise skills and training events in a variety of ways:
- delivered by your own team/staff
- delivered by an external organisation (e.g. British Red Cross, runningsports, sports coach UK)
- delivered by the external organisations mentioned above and, in addition, national governing bodies, a local college, a private training provider, etc.
- If you are a big club, you may have enough people to bring external organisations in to deliver training at your own site. Alternatively, if you are a smaller club, you could get together with some other local clubs to make bringing someone in more affordable, or send your volunteers to an external workshop or event in the local area.
Your County Sports Partnership coordinates coach education courses within the county and has local knowledge about delivery agencies and on what might work best for you in your Club.
Therefore before arranging a provider to come in for a fee, it would be wise to contact your CSP initially for advice.