Having worked in health care most of my career, I’ve relied heavily on a good group of volunteers to help in the different facilities and hospitals I’ve worked. Volunteers are the best!
I’ve noticed that as leaders, we are quick to forgive a volunteer’s mistakes, thank them for their time, and are gracious for any efforts they make to help our company. We also tend to trust they have good intentions and want to do a good job. We normally are quick to smile at them and shake their hand. We are always so grateful they came in and are sad when they choose to stop coming. Because they are working for free and are giving us their time, it is no wonder we as leaders treat them so well.
I’ve also noticed as leaders we can be very different toward our paid employees. We sometimes hold grudges and became irate when mistakes are made. We can be slow to offer thanks or acknowledge their efforts. We can be skeptical and cynical about their motives and intentions. We smile less often and feel their attendance is something they owe us. When they stop coming, we determine they were somehow a bad person anyway. Because we are paying them, we expect them to be happy and gracious.
Something is wrong here. Something about the difference between how we view and treat volunteers in comparison to paid employees just doesn’t feel right. But how do we change this reality?
What if we as leaders changed our mentality and viewed our employees as unpaid volunteers? What if we strived to do all we could to create a great work experience and hold on to our employees? What if we all decided to recognize that we are lucky to have people willing to join our cause and dedicate much of their life to our company?
The truth is, with ease and access to other opportunities, our employees are volunteers. They are choosing to work for us, give us their time, and be part of our team. People have options out there so a good business strategy is to treat our employees as volunteers.
What will you do today to change your perspective toward your employees? How will you treat your staff differently starting today? When will you decide to begin to view them for who they really are—a volunteer for your organization.