Home Books Resources Articles Workshops Contact Links
Volunteer Power!
Volunteer Power News - Number 107
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2012 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

A warm welcome to all volunteer managers-those of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.

You are receiving this newsletter because you signed up or asked to be on the list. Please recommend this e-mail newsletter or ezine to anyone who is interested in volunteer management.

If this newsletter was forwarded to you and you'd like to receive your own personal issue each month, please subscribe to receive free tips on how to recruit, manage and motivate volunteers.

Featured Article: The No-Collar Workforce is Reshaping the Workplace-What That Means for Volunteer Involvement
How the No-Collar Workforce is Reshaping the Workplace-
And What It Means for Volunteer Involvement
Thomas W. McKee

Give them flexibility, respect and snacks. Sounds like great advice for volunteer involvement, doesn't it? But in actuality it is how the under 30-generation is reshaping the workplace. Nick Shore, in Turning On The "No-Collar" Workforce, MediaPost.com, 3/15/2012, states, "MTV's new `No Collar Workers' study seeks to understand the working experience through Millennial eyes...and to help employers decode how to leverage the abundant creative energies of their cubicle-dwelling populations." He writes,
  • A typical Boomer response: "Give me my objectives and get out of my way."
  • A typical Millennial response: "I need flexibility, respect… and snacks."
Those three words--flexibility, respect and snacks-- are just three examples of how the 10,000 Millennials who turn 21 every day and over 40 million Millennials who are currently in the workplace are changing it. They are bringing their attitudes, their skills, and their smart phone with them.

It is naive of us to ignore these changes because the new breed of worker is also having an impact on volunteer involvement. We need to consider these three words if we are going to be successful recruiting and leading the New Breed of Volunteer.

1. Flexibility

Flexibility not only includes dress (hence the no-collar workplace), but also working conditions. On April 30, 2012, The Society for Human Resource Management along with the think tank Families and Work Institute released a report describing unexpected changes in how employees are allowed to juggle where and when they work.

Their findings included the following:
  • 77 percent of employers allow at least some employees to use flex time and periodically change their start and quit times – up from 66 percent in 2005.
  • 87 percent allow at least some employees to take time during the work day to tend to family or personal affairs without a dock in pay. In 2005, 77 percent of employers allowed it.
  • 63 percent of employers allow employees to occasionally work from home – nearly double that of 2005, when 34 percent of employers allowed staffers to work from home.
It's not just the Millennials who want flex time. Gen X – those 30 and 40 year olds who are busy raising families-- are seeking this flex time. The study revealed that in order for companies to retain their valued employees, even in a turbulent economy, they need to be flexible. (You can read the complete report, 2012 National Study of Employers on the When Work Works website -- www.whenworkworks.org.

During the last decades of the 20th century, we offered flexibility as an optional benefit-something that we could promote in order to recruit and retain more volunteers. Some hospitals would offer a flexible schedule for their volunteers. Churches began to recruit teams of teachers so that the weekly Sunday school teacher of the 50's who never missed a Sunday was a thing of the past. But flexibility has morphed from an optional benefit to an essential. Since volunteers bring their work ethic with them to our organizations (i.e. 87% are able to take time off of work to be with their families), they will demand flexibility from us or they will volunteer in another group that does.

A Few Ideas:
  1. Recruit task-oriented teams rather than individual volunteers. Create a team of five to ten volunteers who will share the responsibilities and then empower the team members to work out their own flexible schedule.
  2. Change a rigid schedule into a flexible one. It's a pain to change the schedule each week or month, but it is an essential. Just last month I was visiting with a hospital volunteer who puts in two four-hour shifts a week. I asked her why she volunteered at this particular hospital. Her first response was, "flexibility." She said that she and her husband were retired-notice they are not Millennials--and they traveled a lot, but she really wanted to volunteer. This particular hospital put together a monthly schedule, and she was able to fulfill her commitment and still do the traveling she wanted.
2. Respect

MTV's new `No Collar Workers' study also revealed how Millennials want respect-mainly to be listened to.
  • 76% believe that "my boss could learn a lot from me."
  • 65% say, "I should be mentoring older coworkers when it comes to tech and getting things done."
  • Nine out of 10 Millennials want senior people in their company to listen to their ideas and opinions.
Nick Shore concludes his article with these words about the Millennials and the new organization:

The new organization is the listening organization. Listening to social media, listening to their customers, and listening to the next generation. Really listening, then responding. Listening, it has been said, is the purest form of inquiry.

I love that organizational tag, "the listening organization." Listening is great, but what are we hearing when we listen? Unfortunately we often listen through our biases. For example, when I read (listened to) the list above, my gut reaction to the texting generation was, "It's all about me. Listen to me, empower me, let me have fun, and let me do my own thing my way." But as I thought about it (really listened to what they were saying), I remembered that this is the generation that watched their parents work for the same company for 40 years and then get dumped and lose their pension. Nick Shore says, "What could be misinterpreted as `self importance' is a deeper sense of having many new ideas and wanting to contribute, as well as a desire to have their tech skills and savvy tapped by senior managers." What this generation is saying is that they have some expertise that they want to contribute, and they just want to be heard.

But sometimes communicating with the Millennials, who we call the texting generation, is a huge challenge.

Jonathan McKee, who co-authored with me The New Breed, Understanding and Equipping the 21st Century Volunteer, introduced his workshops at the Southeastern Directors of Volunteer Services in Health Care Organizations Annual Convention at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with these questions:
  • How does a Director of Volunteers communicate to this tech savvy generation who can't go 5 minutes without checking their Facebook status on their new Smartphone?
  • Can we even get their attention, and when we do, can we keep it for more than 30 seconds?
A Few Ideas:
  1. One of Jonathan's recommendations was that a way to respect them is to use their method of communication-texting. To get a quick response from the texting generation, text them first. Then follow up with a Facebook message.
  2. Involve the Millennials in your leadership brainstorming sessions, and as you listen to their ideas, remember all of your ideas when you were their age. Keep in mind how you wanted change things, and in many cases we really did change things-that is what the 60's was all about.
  3. Try to have a few Millennials on each of your volunteer teams and then take time to work alongside a Millennial and listen. On my recent trip to Uganda, one of the strong contributions to our team culture was the four Millennial volunteers (4 out of the 15 were Millennials-2 teenagers and 2 in their early 20's). I sat next to several Millennials on the 20 hour flights and between movies and reading, I learned about their ideas, passion and burning desire to have an impact. Picture a 70 year old working side by side with Millennials. It added so much to our volunteer experience-and frankly the effectiveness of the team. If you haven't read my report on what I learned as a volunteer in Africa, see "When the Always Be in Charge Person is Only a Team Member-Lessons Learned from Volunteering in Uganda."
  4. We also highly recommend that a way to respect them is to give them responsibilities-especially in developing and using the social media. I would gladly turn over our Facebook page to any one of my teenage grandchildren. This is true of many areas of technology. Their personal pages are so fresh and up to date. My personal page is, well, just sort of there.
3. Snacks/Fun

Snacks are a way to build community and just have fun together.

Nick Shore says that Workplace 2.0 is a life-work "Smoothie."
  • Nearly 9 in 10 Millennials want their workplace to be social and fun.
  • 93% want a job where they can be themselves.
Many employers are afraid of having fun in the workplace. I owned a corporate training business for over 20 years, and when we would discuss having fun and show videos of Southwest Airlines or the Seattle Pike Place Fish Market, upper management would panic. They often felt that if the workers were throwing fish or cracking jokes all the time, the work would not get done.

We have always believed that having fun is very important for volunteers who are not getting paid for what they do. We are like a family. Our volunteer work culture is a lot like one of the family dinners in one of the TV program, "Blue Bloods." I love the way four generations of Reagans eat, play, joke, tease and love each other around their weekly family meals. That is what we have in our organizations. We have forever believed that we are a family of volunteers, having fun, but on a mission.

A Few Ideas:
  1. Keep it up. Don't get so distracted that you forget this essential. We can get so caught up in recruiting new volunteers, that we forget this important benefit for our volunteers.
  2. Provide regular snacks in your break room. Either recruit a volunteer to take on the project of providing snacks -- some people love this responsibility-- or create a rotating schedule of providing snacks from your volunteers.
  3. Provide a high-energy training session with lots of fun and food. Make sure your trainer is entertaining with humorous examples, video clips, and learning exercises. This summer I am going to lead a 90-minute, motivational customer service training for the volunteers at a California hospital. The Director of Volunteers is going to provide a brunch, an entertaining training, and four very specific insights about how volunteers can give excellent customer service for the staff, venders, patients, family members and friends of the hospital. They will have tons of fun while learning.
Flexibility, respect and snacks--sounds like these three essentials for Millenials are not only changing the workplace, but are strategies that we all could and should practice.

Liven Up Your Convention or Education Day with Passion, Fun, Laughs, and Volunteer Involvement Insights
Want to know how to involve the "Texting Generation" with your older volunteers and have fun doing it?

Jonathan and I can help you learn how to incorporate these and many more, essential leadership skills in your organization.

Jonathan is a leading authority on the "texting generation." His website and blog draw an average of 125,000 people a month. He has written nine books about connecting with the texting generation, and he speaks to over 15,000 parents and youth workers each year, giving them practical insights about how to connect with young people today. I'm so excited when Jonathan's heavy travel schedule frees him up so that he can travel with me to talk about what we can do to lead this dynamic group of potential volunteers.

Invite both Jonathan and me to your next convention to engage you in a lively discussion and insights about the New Breed of Volunteers. Jonathan and I will tease each other, but it is all in fun as we talk about unleashing the passion of each generation to unleash Volunteer Power.

Contact us to book a workshop, key-note presentation.

The New Breed of Volunteer
A Volunteer Power Workshop
Recruiting and leading the 21st Century volunteers who want to do it their way

Workshop Content

The questions: Volunteerism is hot. From American Idol, Disneyland, Glee, Lady Gaga, President Obama to Wells Fargo, Intel and Wal-Mart, giving back is the rage.
  • How do we take advantage of this trend in our organization?
  • How do we mobilize the passion and power of volunteers in a culture that sometimes stifles passion and professionalism because management only allows volunteers to stuff envelops?
The answer: A 21st Century leadership strategy. We need to know how to impact our volunteer culture so that we can recruit and empower a whole new breed of volunteers.

The 21st century volunteer culture is very different because of tectonic shifts that have changed volunteer leadership. These shifts have impacted the volunteer organization; therefore, how we recruit and lead the New Breed of volunteer is a whole new game. The tectonic shifts include the following:
  • Twitch Speed - The core characteristic of Lady Gaga is speed. She is doing in 10 minutes what it took Madonna ten years to achieve. How nimble is your organization in responding to today's volunteers?
  • Generations - Gen Y and retiring boomers-the new frontier of volunteers
  • Technology - The addition of social networks as a leadership tool
  • Empowerment - The knowledge worker demands to be led - not managed
  • Slacktivism - Getting involved with the click of a mouse
  • Episodic Volunteering - Sign up for only short-term projects or only when unemployed
A LEADER OF VOLUNTEERS STRATEGY: In this workshop you will learn ...
  • How to manage change: How to interpret a changing culture
  • How to empower the volunteer without dropping the ball
  • How to coach your volunteers instead of manage them: The four stages of coaching
  • How to frame your recruiting message in order to transition slactivists and episodic volunteers into valuable non-paid staff
Contact us to book a workshop, key-note presentation.

Subscribe: If this newsletter was forwarded to you and you'd like to receive your own personal issue each month, please subscribe to receive free tips on how to recruit, manage and motivate volunteers.

You're receiving this recurring mailing because you either directly subscribed to the list, signed up on our website, or emailed a request to be subscribed. Volunteer Power respects your privacy: We won't rent, sell, or share your email address with any company, organization, or individual.

Please recommend this e-mail newsletter or Ezine to anyone who is interested in volunteer management. Thank you for reading this month's issue of Volunteer Power News!