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This page is devoted to the management of volunteer programs in health care settings.


~July 2012~

What makes them stay?


I read a recent article focusing on what employee’s value the most in their jobs.  While the information focuses on employees, transitioning the concepts to volunteers is natural.  When you ask what people value most in their jobs, money, benefits and time off are always mentioned. But why does an employee stick with a company? Their supervisor. 

A good supervisor can make people want to stay. They develop tactics to bring out the best in their people, and create ways to show them they are valued.  That supervisor can be you, the Volunteer Services program manager or it can be the direct staff that the volunteers work with.  Either way, here are four key areas to focus on:

Recognition – it pays off in two ways. First, someone is recognized for going aboblue ribbonve and beyond. Other people see it and know they have a shot at the same glory. But it also shows people that supervisors are plugged into daily goings-on and can tell who is going the extra mile…and who isn’t. 

Recognition does not have to cost money.  It can simply be remembering someone’s birthday, asking about their family or their vacation time; things that illustrate that you have taken an interest in the person as a person, not just a volunteer who comes in every Tuesday to help out.
kids castleFun & Exciting environment – good managers find ways to transform normal workplace changes into exciting events rather than turmoil. Put your most enthusiastic people out front to lead the way; they can show others how to become part of the big picture. 

Hospitals can sometimes be perceived as the serious place where not such good things happen.  It becomes even more important for people to enjoy themselves and the work they do for us.   That is why laughter reduces workplace stress. Be creative in fostering a fun and exciting work environment.  As a supervisor, you know the difference between humor and harassment.  Hazing, horseplay and fun at someone else’s expense are not acceptable. Supervisors set the example by finding ways to not take themselves too seriously.

Being part of a team – a sense of belonging can be critical in the workplace. People like to know they are part of something larger and that they are not alone. A lot of people volunteer for the social aspects of getting out of the house, being around people and contributing something useful for someone else.  Recognize this and capitalize on it.  Whether you are the direct supervisor or the sthands in circleaff member working with the team, setting up teams or assigning volunteers to work as a group is one way for supervisors to complement skills and personalities with maximum results in mind.

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The author of the Heath Care Volunteer Programs column is Mary Kay Hood MS, Hendricks Regional Health, Danville, IN (317) 745-3556. With a BS degree in biology from Marian College and a Master of Science in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University, Mary Kay has been involved in volunteer management over twenty years with a zoo and in the health care field. During that time, she completed the Management of Volunteer Programs course offered at University of Indianapolis, several supervisory training programs as well as the Indiana Hospital and Health Association’s Management Institute offered by the Executive Education Program, School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. Mary Kay served on the Nonprofit Training Center of United Way from 1993 to 2006. During that time, she taught many workshops also facilitating speaker arrangements for the Basic Volunteer Management series. Additionally, she has presented at various national and international conferences. Mary Kay served as president of the Central Indiana Association for Volunteer Administration (CIAVA) from 1993-1997 and the Indiana Society of Directors of Volunteer Services (ISDVS) from 2006-2008. She was also the recipient of the 1995 Outstanding Director of Volunteer Services Award and the 2002 United Way of Central Indiana Volunteer of the Year Award. Most recently she served on the Steering Committee for COVAA resulting in the formation of a new national membership organization for those in volunteer management, the Association of Leaders in Volunteer Engagement (AL!VE). With several published articles, she is also author to two books: The One Minute Answer to Volunteer Management Questions and The Volunteer Leader as Change Agent.

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