Much has been written about the differences between paid staff and volunteers and the need to develop a management style for volunteers that takes into account their unique characteristics. But to date much volunteer practice has lagged behind the research, with many organisations continuing to adopt a traditional ‘workplace’ model for involving volunteers drawn from standard HR practice that treats volunteers as unpaid members of staff.
In this issue of Research to Practice, internationally known British researcher Justin Davis Smith looks at a new study from Switzerland that examines probable elements in a distinctive volunteer management approach. The focus is specifically on the need to treat volunteers as a unique group within an organization, and to manage their relationship with other key stakeholders such as paid staff, senior leadership, and members. The study has important practical implications for the way we think about involving and managing volunteers in our organisations.