<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Can We Integrate Volunteers Into Our HR Planning

April 22, 2004
Dear Whining:

You did the right thing by talking directly with the department heads, even though this didn't produce results. So speak with your boss. Describe the situation and seek support in getting these departments to plan more effectively.
If your supervisor won't help, go directly to the executive director. Present your case by demonstrating a sincere desire to help departments plan for volunteer needs. Highlight the advantages of developing your volunteers.
Point out the challenges these procrastinating departments face. Ask for their confidentiality regarding internal issues. Your success with this project depends on your relationship with the department heads. Hopefully they'll realize you're working for positive change, and throw their support behind you. Otherwise, you've further damaged your relationship with them, because they'll know you've circumvented them. It's a rather fine line to walk. Done with some careful thought, though, it could have positive results.
Here are some more suggestions. Use these elements to integrate the volunteer department into your core HR operations.
  • Require department managers to include volunteer needs in their annual planning. Requiring managers to anticipate their needs reinforces good resource management.
  • Establish guidelines for volunteer requests. Require two weeks' advance notice, and make it clear that you can't provide volunteers without enough lead time--and without knowing the specific project needs.
  • Talk with your managers frequently to understand their needs, how they use volunteers, their training requirements, and recognition programs.
  • Train your managers. Give new managers training in volunteer scheduling and utilization. This sends a message about the importance of volunteers and allows you to immediately establish relationships with them.
  • Work together to train and recognize your volunteers. This is possibly the most important issue: getting managers to train your volunteers and recognize their value to the organization.
SOURCE: Bill Eggert, vice president of human resources, Casey Melton, volunteer coordinator,The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, Florida, May 14, 2003.
LEARN MORE: Please readHow Do I Ask for the Boss's Help?
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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