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The Online University Broadcasting Station: Rewarding Volunteers Case Study

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Updated: May 22nd, 2020


Volunteering is a self-elect practice where individuals engage deliberately in unpaid activities. Although volunteering is commonly applicable in non-profit organizations, profit-oriented organizations also adopt the practice as a way of cutting down costs while at the same time trying to counter the impact of understaffing. However, the output that is anticipated by organizations that adopt volunteerism is derived from strategies that are available to maintain substantial levels of motivation of the volunteers. Organizations have to show an expression of interest and recognition to volunteers to keep them inspired and passionate. Recognition contributes directly to increased motivation, improved productivity, and volunteer retention. Nevertheless, most organizations find it difficult to manage volunteers due to their volatile nature. This paper explores various issues that result from reduced employee supply at Online University Broadcasting Station and the significance of well-matched headship styles to inspire and supervise volunteers.

Causes of Reduced Employee Supply at the Online University Broadcasting Station

Online University Broadcasting Station has experienced reduced personnel because of its evident budgetary constraints and inadequate labor. These limitations are the major factors that have led to the recruitment of volunteers in the station. For ordinary employees, compensation is the main drive that leads them to seek a job. Budgetary constraints tempt managers to seek volunteer workers to cut down operational costs (Philips & Phillips, 2011). Seemingly, the broadcasting station fell short of finances to fund ordinary employees. As a result, volunteerism has remained a source of the broadcasting labor force for Online University Broadcasting Station.

However, the program director lacks appropriate leadership styles to lead voluntary workers. Perhaps, the program director offers inadequate training to the voluntary employees due to the restrained financial budget. For a period of nine months, the broadcasting station has remained without a program director. Lack of a program director, or the manager, implies that no further recruitment of volunteers can take place. As a result, the present group of volunteers handles the available tasks with humility. On another dimension, the broadcasting station lacks both the personnel and money to conduct training programs. Equally, the beneficiary program director fails to meet the needs of the volunteers. Perchance, the initial interest of the volunteers in the organization has changed due to limited career development. This situation has led them to quit the station.

The Significance of Well-matched Headship Approaches to Inspire and Supervise Unpaid Staff

The type of headship that is exercised by managers determines the ability of an organization to retain its volunteers. Volunteers are very volatile human resources. Their commitment to work is dependent on the level of treatment they receive from their organizations. Therefore, there is a need for managers to exercise leadership styles that nurture the motivational levels of volunteers in a bid to perpetuate their interest in working in the organizations. First, managers should emphasize success rather than addressing failure to voluntary workers (Philips & Phillips, 2011). Volunteers are a scarce human resource that helps organizations cut down the cost of its operations. Positive remarks and guidance towards the right procedures and activities keep volunteers motivated to perfect their weak areas (Nkomo & Fottler, 2012).

In addition, volunteers require organizational support for their selfless efforts towards the accomplishment of organizational goals. Human resource managers have to provide a favorable organizational structure to match the needs of volunteers and the tasks that an organization assigns them. Adequate resources to volunteers enable them to utilize their skills and knowledge to maximize output. The provision of adequate resources to the volunteers facilitates the activities assigned to them by the organization (Mello, 2011). Organization leaders should provide a variety of sensible and diverse experiences for volunteers.

They should allow volunteers to practice different activities within the organization. In this sense, such unpaid assistants get the opportunity to exploit numerous skills as they handle diverse responsibilities. Work diversity is also a good prerequisite for volunteers to learn new knowledge and/or acquire additional skills. Trying different activities also enhances their personal growth. For compatibility with the needs of volunteers, leaders should be communicative and provide immediate feedback. Employers should let volunteers clearly understand what the organization expects of them.

Where applicable, managers should involve volunteers in decision-making processes to make them feel part of the organization. According to Philips and Phillips (2011), volunteers make unbiased decisions since their function in an organization is impartial. Mostly, they come up with decisions that serve the organization without the feeling of pain by some of the members. Therefore, their involvement in the decision-making process has a positive repercussion on the organization as a whole. Moreover, organization leaders should provide volunteers with social support and experience (Mello, 2011). A previous survey by Philips and Phillips (2011) revealed that most volunteers appreciate organizations for the provision of staff and social support from managers and other employees. Social support builds good working relationships between managers, employees, and volunteers. As a result, social support provides a healthy ground for making new friends.

Reward System for Volunteers

Organizations need to embrace rational reward systems to maintain their volunteers’ enthusiasm. Normally, volunteers perform unpaid duties and expect no rewards. However, the performance of volunteers depends on appreciation, recognition, and morale. Philips and Phillips (2011) recommend organizations to use monetary awards as a way of rewarding voluntary workers. However, the use of money contradicts the roles of volunteers and those of ordinary employees. Some volunteers reason that the use of money diminishes respect for voluntary works. A sensible reward system for volunteers includes activities such as communication, gifting, training, parties, and public recognition.

Communication is the keystone of all organizational processes. Likewise, managers should use real-time communication to pass relevant information to volunteers. Managers should create awareness amongst volunteers about the difference they have brought in the organization (Philips & Phillips, 2011). In addition, employers should award gifts to volunteers’ efforts towards the success of the organizations.

However, researchers recommend that employers should give awards as a surprise but not as a routine. Volunteers should receive gifts as rewards for their selfless efforts but not as compensation for completed tasks. Researchers have revealed that volunteers who receive gifts and other rewards as compensations for their efforts exhibit reduced effort in future tasks if such rewards are not honored (Nkomo, Fottler, & McAfee, 2011). Therefore, managers should award gifts spontaneously, even when there are no ongoing activities in the organization. Gifts improve the attachment of the volunteers to the organization.

According to Philips and Phillips (2011), recognition is one of the greatest rewards a volunteer can ever get from the organization. Organization leaders should take their time to recognize the efforts of volunteers in a number of ways. Recognition can be either spontaneous or systematic. Spontaneous recognition is a practice where a leader from the organization acknowledges the contribution of a volunteer at the time of involvement or immediately after the activity. Spontaneous recognition does not follow any specific plan. It is timeless. On the other hand, systematic recognition is a planned activity to acknowledge the efforts of a voluntary worker.

Systematic recognition may require the organization to hold a function or organizational meeting to acknowledge the contributions of volunteers in the presence of high-profile managers, junior managers, other employees, and the public. This practice is rather organized. It follows a defined criterion. Generally, the recognition of volunteers should assume different activities. Recognition activities, whether spontaneous or systematic, target personal achievements. Recognition increases the confidence of volunteers while at the same time, boosting their motivation towards the performance of a task.

Communication and Training Programs

Communication is paramount for any amicable organizational process. It is the duty of a leader to establish good communication channels between the various parties in an organization. In this context, the program director is the overall leader in the broadcasting station. He or she needs to establish proper communication with the volunteers to detect any loopholes within the broadcasting organization. In the context of Online University Broadcasting Station, he should have worked together with the volunteers to ensure direct communication with them. This practice could have enabled him to seek hidden knowledge of his differences between him and the voluntary workers.

Perhaps, understaffing could have led to the witnessed differences because of performing many tasks with little recognition efforts from the program director. Generally, communication is a vital tool for any problem-solving decision. Communication enables managers to elicit crucial information from employees. This knowledge remains hidden unless leaders devise clear communication methods to unearth organizational problems (Nkomo, Fottler, & McAfee, 2011).

Managers should establish enriched training programs to help volunteers build their careers. Training encompasses a number of activities that may vary according to volunteers or organizational needs. For instance, the program director should have ensured that volunteers participate in orientation sessions at the onset of their volunteering exercise at the broadcasting station. This initial training would have enabled them to understand the organizational structure and/or what the managers anticipate from them. As such, they could have familiarized themselves with the present organizational behavior. In addition, the program director could also conduct specialized training sessions. This kind of training targets a specific set of skills in broadcasting, which could have added to the volunteers’ skills and knowledge.

In a survey conducted by Philips and Phillips (2011) to investigate the feelings of volunteers on training activities, in a data set of 100 voluntary workers, 68 percent revealed that they felt content with the training activities that were conducted by their managers. They were willing to remain in the organizations for a longer time than the remaining group. A population of 20 percent said that the training programs did not adequately match their skills while the remaining claimed that their organization rarely conducted training programs for the voluntary workers. From the above statistics, it is evident that training programs improve the motivation and enthusiasm of volunteers.


The practice of volunteerism is an area of great interest for many organizations that seek reduced operational costs. On the other hand, volunteers attach themselves to organizations of interest to utilize their skills while developing their careers through coaching and practice. However, the match between organizational interests and the needs of volunteers is always met with misperceptions. Researchers recommend that managers should target effective volunteer selection and retention practices that involve the maintenance of volunteer motivation and enthusiasm. These practices include good communication, recognition, and training. Volunteers add value to the overall output of an organization. Thus, managers should respect their efforts.

Reference List

Mello, J. (2011). Strategic human resource management. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. Web.

Nkomo, S., & Fottler, M. (2012). Human resource management capstone. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. Web.

Nkomo, S., Fottler, M., & McAfee, R. (2011). Human resource management applications: Cases, exercises, incidents, and skill builders. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. Web.

Philips, L., & Phillips, M. (2011). Altruism, Egoism, or Something Else: Rewarding Volunteers Effectively and Affordably. Southern Business Review, 36(1), 23-35. Web.

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