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The Art and Science of Designing Work for Volunteers

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Take a moment to think about your worst job ever. The one you struggled to get out of bed to go to. The one you gleefully left at the end of your shift or the start of your weekend. What job design factors contributed to your dissatisfaction? Was the work boring or repetitive? Did you have zero or low control?  Were you aware of how your work contributed to the organization’s goals?

Now take a moment to think about your best job ever. The one that made you just as eager on Monday morning as on Friday afternoon. How was that job designed? Did you perceive your work to be meaningful? Did you find the right amount of challenge? Did you receive both positive and constructive feedback? Were you aware of the way your work impacted others?

Now think about the volunteer positions in your organization, specifically the ones where you struggle with retention, absenteeism, motivation, or poor quality of performance. How can you apply the proven principles of paid job design to developing more satisfying volunteer opportunities? In this e-Volunteerism feature, author Debbie Anderson explains why it all begins with the work design when motivating volunteers to succeed.