Changing Work Patterns (Implications for Volunteer Recruitment)

By Judy Esmond
From Count Me In! 501 Ideas on Recruiting Volunteers, Newseason Publications, 2001

The World of Work
Did you know that only one-third of the workforce still work "standard" hours of 9 to 5, Monday to Friday? There are more women working, more casual and part-time workers, and more home-based businesses than ever before. Fewer people now hold a job for life, and most people now change careers several times during their working lives. Get your creative juices flowing and explore ways to make these trends work for you.

Sorry, I'm Busy Then
If you operate during normal business hours, there's no sense in trying to recruit people who also work at those times. Look at targeting groups that may not have such time constraints: students, unemployed, retired, and senior citizens. But don't stop there! You could also target seasonal workers, the self-employed (consultants, artists, professionals), night shift workers (in hospitals, factories, hotels, emergency services, television and radio), weekend workers (in tourist attractions and restaurants), airline workers, relief teachers and taxi drivers. Think outside the box!

Ask the Boss
What's the fastest growing group in the workforce? Answer: self-employed, home-based professionals. Writers, artists, architects, lawyers, accountants and designers are a few examples of people who work from home. These people have flexible working hours, and they don't need to ask the boss for permission to donate time to your organization. Target these people and get them out of the house!

All is Not Lost
Keep in touch with local companies, unions and employment agencies to be aware of when retrenchments occur. Many companies are downsizing and laying off skilled workers, particularly those in middle management positions. Approach these people sensitively. Recognize that they may not be interested in volunteering immediately, but let them know where to find you. Voluntary work is a great way for them to keep their existing skills sharp, develop new skills, and maintain their self-esteem as they search for paid employment.

Help Us Help You
Consider how your organization can benefit from retraining programs. There are an increasing number of training and personal development schemes for people who have been redeployed or retrenched. Become involved in these programs and offer people the chance to develop new work-related skills through volunteering.

Moving On
Be aware of the trend away from having a job for life towards having several careers over our working lives. Promote volunteering as the bridge between careers. Emphasize that volunteering allows people to learn new skills and to experiment with new work environments and careers before committing themselves to a total change. Be creative and you can offer voluntary work that gives people the chance to try before they buy!

Working Women
Has your organization traditionally relied on women as volunteers? With more women now in the paid workforce than ever before, either through choice or economic necessity, fewer women are able to spare the time to volunteer. Look for ways to target new sources of volunteers in the community. As one door closes, another always opens!

More or Less
Not only are there more women in the workforce, they are in a broader range of occupations than ever before. Those who do volunteer are demanding more challenging and rewarding assignments. As with all trends, the key is to recognize and respond. Look at the voluntary roles you're offering and explore ways of creating even more stimulating and satisfying tasks.

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