It is no secret that grassroots sports, or any grassroots organisation for that matter lives and dies by its ability to keep volunteers around. Volunteers delicately balance the pressures of life, family, work all while being part of your organisation's team. It's no wonder that they are so hard to come by, these people for the most part are saints, completely unpaid, and doing it solely for the love of the sport, or interest.
But what causes volunteers to leave? Burnout! A 2013 paper by Joseph Allen and Stephanie Meuller discusses the causes leading to volunteer burnout, with a major factor being an unmanageable workload. The reality is that all organisations need lots of things done, which requires volunteers, but as is found in most cases, too much is being done by too few people. It is a cycle that causes volunteers to quit, and requires more from those who stay, a bit of a death spiral.
From an organisational standpoint, there are a number of ways that you can reduce your volunteer burnout.
1. Reduce unnecessary operational tasks
There are often a range of operational tasks that organisations do simply because it's the way they’ve always done it. But often the reality is that things function best in simplicity. When thinking of required operational workload for volunteers, always consider what the minimum workload is required of this volunteer, and give them the same level of appreciation as you would an employee for doing their job. The reality is a volunteer who sees the vision and is appreciated, will always do more than expected.
2. Cast simple, strong and easy to follow vision
Nothing causes anxiety like stressing over an excessive workload and not knowing where to start. As an organisational leader, your ability to set a vision that volunteers understand and can follow in their work will reduce avoidable stress, and lead to greater productivity.
3. Reduce Administrative workload
Almost everyone hates administrative tasks, especially when it's for sporting organisations, events, and you’re a volunteer. This is usually due to clunky, non-friendly administration platforms that do not connect with the organisational mission, leaving users feeling frustrated and confused. Organisations need customised administration and management tools built with their end users in mind. Purpose built digital solutions help sporting organisations grow participation numbers, reduce game day stress, increase fan engagement, and increase membership numbers. You wouldn’t dig a hole with a screwdriver, or build a shed with a baking tray, because it would take way too much effort and still wouldn't achieve the desired result. You need the right tools for the job, likewise sporting volunteer culture and reduced administrative workload doesn’t happen without purpose built, end-user focussed software solutions designed with a vision to see that sport thrive.
So to recap, here are three ways you can keep your volunteer team in good shape:
- Get rid of unnecessary operational tasks, simply your operations and focus on the elements that truly matter.
- Cast a strong and easy to follow vision, be inspiring, focus on the future and growing the organisation, particularly in the areas that matter to families and members.
- Reduce administrative workload with purpose built software solutions designed for the participants and fans of your sport.