There are different motivations at play for employees and volunteers in their relationships with the not-for-profit organisation they work for.
Over time we have seen that volunteers are more likely to have higher levels of engagement than employees. We have wondered if this is due to volunteers who are disengaged simply leaving their organisation. Whereas employees may perhaps stay because they have bills to pay, even if they are disengaged.
We wanted to take this one step further and use our benchmark database to find out which survey questions employees and volunteers feel differently about.
The benchmark data
We offer benchmark comparisons for like-for-like groups when working with not-for-profit organisations on their employee and volunteer surveys. Employee survey results are only compared to other organisations’ employee results, and volunteer survey results are only compared to others’ volunteer results.
However, we have benchmark statistics for questions that are used in both employee and volunteer surveys. We used this data to compare the median % positive figures for survey questions that apply to both groups. This has enabled us to see, on average, which questions volunteers are more positive or less positive about than employees.
We found that many survey questions have a similar median % positive for both groups, meaning that employees and volunteers often feel similarly about most topics.
The questions with the greatest variation between the two groups were all questions where employees were more positive than volunteers.
|Values and Culture||Whistleblowing: I know how to report poor practice||59%||86%||27%|
|Performance Management||My manager takes prompt action if people's performance falls below acceptable standards||39%||61%||22%|
|Performance Management||I receive regular, timely feedback that helps me improve my performance||50%||68%||18%|
|Management||My manager helps me to find solutions to problems||64%||82%||18%|
|Role||I feel that my contribution is valued||87%||71%||16%|
|Communications||This organisation is open, honest and shares information effectively||75%||59%||16%|
|Wellbeing||This organisation cares about its employees/volunteers||79%||63%||16%|
|Values and Culture||This organisation has strong values and operates to high ethical standards||91%||76%||15%|
Employees are more positive than volunteers on:
Employees are 26% more positive than volunteers on the question “Whistleblowing: I know how to report poor practice”. Do volunteers need better access to information on reporting poor practice? Has all the organisational effort to communicate whistleblowing channels gone to employees only? In many volunteer roles it would be crucial for individuals to know how to report poor practice.
Manager action on poor performance
Employees are 22% more positive than volunteers on the question “My manager takes prompt action if people’s performance falls below acceptable standards”. This may seem understandable in the context of the relationship between a manager of an unpaid volunteer who is under-performing, but could this have a negative effect on the team around them?
Employees are 18% more positive than volunteers on the question “I receive regular timely feedback that helps me improve my performance”. Volunteers are less likely to receive feedback from their managers, which they could find valuable in their development.
Manager support with problem solving
Employees are also 18% more positive than volunteers on the question “My manager helps me to find solutions to problems”. This indicates that volunteers are receiving less support from their managers than employees. Is this because line managers of volunteers typically have less time to devote to them? Or is it seen as less important to help a volunteer solve a problem than a paid employee?
Volunteers are more positive than employees on:
Volunteers are 16% more likely than employees to feel that their contribution is valued, with 87% positive on this question. This tells us that efforts to show volunteers that they are valued is working well.
Volunteers are 16% more positive than employees on the question “This organisation is open, honest and shares information effectively”. This perhaps indicates a greater scepticism from employees that the organisation is good at openly sharing information.
Feeling cared for
Volunteers are also 16% more positive than employees about feeling the organisation cares about them, with 79% positive on this question. Again, we are seeing that organisational effort to show care for volunteers is going well.
Organisational values and ethics
Volunteers are 15% more positive than employees on the question “This organisation has strong values and operates to high ethical standards”, with 91% positive on this question. It is difficult to say why this may be, although it is encouraging that volunteers tend to believe this. Perhaps volunteers have lower levels of access to “insider information” that could lead employees to be more sceptical on this.
Our analysis found that employees are generally more positive than volunteers about receiving support and feedback from their managers, as well as knowing how to whistle blow.
We also found that volunteers are generally more positive than employees about feeling valued and cared for as well as information sharing and the ethical standards in their organisations.
We believe this analysis has produced some interesting findings. What do you think? Do these findings resonate with your organisation’s volunteer and employee experiences?
We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch
Author: Catherine Wearden, Principal Consultant