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How to Learn from Volunteer Organizations

Hold on... People work for free?

Volunteer Organizations are amazing. They are able to accomplish spectacular things that help improve our communities. Volunteer organizations address issues from climate change to feeding the hungry to mental health issues and countless other wonderful initiatives. However, the most fascinating thing they accomplish (IMHO) is getting people to do work without pay. It is something every employer should take some time to think about.

I always wonder when employees or coworkers wouldn’t show up to work. They were literally being paid to show up and that wasn’t enough to get them there. One of the main objectives for “work” is to earn an income. How do you not prioritize showing up when it jeopardizes your opportunity for income? There must be something more important to consider than just the dollars and cents when people don’t show up for work.

Seriously, how do volunteer organizations get people to show up to work for free?!? Their secret ingredient is MISSION! Those organizations have made their reason for being to change the world, or to rescue an abandoned dog and to change that dog’s world. Their mission for being is compelling and inspiring. With a few hours of time, the volunteer has put their shoulder to the plow to make the world a better place. How much more compelling would our places of business be through this lens? Your reason for being should be to change the world – one meal at a time! Your place of work should be a place that fills a niche and makes our world more creative and delicious. How strong is your mission?

Another way that the best volunteer organizations get people to show up to work for free, is that they value their volunteers. They make it their business to train successfully and engage with their volunteers in such a way that not only does the volunteer feel inspired to be changing the world, but they are seen and appreciated for their work. Do your employees feel seen and valued?

What gets volunteers to be present and involved without the paycheck? Here is a quick LINK for several more reasons why people volunteer and how it is beneficial. These are the things your leadership team needs to use! You can find ways to motivate your team by tapping into these along with paying them too — A true win-win for all involved. They are working for something greater than themselves. The sense of community that is established amongst volunteers is something every for-profit organization needs to strive for. The number of GENUINE smiles that are generated during volunteer interaction is contagious. Every single work environment needs to strive towards the goal of instilling volunteer passion for their employees.

There is no one true way to motivate your team. Every person and team are different. It is you and your leadership team’s job to figure out how to galvanize your troops with something deeper than a paycheck. Your work environment needs to be a place that draws in the right type of employee that we all want to work with. We all want a job that is more than a paycheck and includes our passions. Find the people who are passionate to improve the greater good along with themselves. Hint, Hint, that is every person when they are well motivated and receiving a living wage. Your leadership needs to lead by example and show how every detail that goes into a successful business can be your team’s greater good when communicated correctly.

In order for your team to work for something greater than themselves; your leadership needs to constantly reinforce the bigger picture. The easiest way to start that process is to create a Mission Statement – a clear sentence(s) that spells out how you are changing the world and why your employees love coming to work. Here is a LINK to my Mission Statement blog to go over the importance of having one. This is also why my course “4 Building Blocks for Restaurant Staff Success” begins with a how-to-develop a strong mission statement. Click HERE to sign up for the course now or get on our waitlist!


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