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Volunteers are an essential part of the workforce of mega and major events, playing a key role in major events from the Olympic Games to local community festivals. Various events heavily rely upon volunteers to execute their operations and as such they are gradually becoming a key factor for the success of events around the globe. Volunteers play a vital role in cutting operational expenditures and are extremely cost-effective. Additionally, they can make a big contribution to visitor satisfaction through their passionate performance, diverse skills and different abilities to connect with visitors.
According to Buric (2004) the key characteristics of volunteering include – activities that are performed willingly without exchange of any monetary profit. However, there are still expenditures for the organizers as they are responsible for providing other services for the benefit of volunteers, e.g. uniforms, travel expenses, etc. The third and final one is mutual advantage that benefits both the organization and the volunteer. Some of the major sports events may not even be possible without the efforts of the group of volunteers. Thus, it is essential that these volunteers carry on to work in the future and this would be carrying forward a legacy of the volunteers. Lynch (2001) defines this as the inheritance of the ongoing communal support. The increase in volunteer support for different events in the society and improved volunteerism in the society in general, in terms of progressive attitudes towards volunteering an increased rate of volunteering and increased level of participation.
There may be a lot of different reasons that may indicate these volunteers to carry on volunteering in the future. It can depend on several factors such as experiences, motivation, satisfaction, etc. One of the main factors that can determine their decision is their experience from the past event. Volunteer management is one key indicator that determines that start of the on how the volunteers are trained, managed and deliver the success of the event. The impact of this event and their experience can decide their choice on the future volunteering activities. For e.g. major sport events maybe a first time opportunity for someone to get involved in volunteering. The experiences they have there can transform into more volunteering for different events or with different organisations that benefit the community.
Many sectors of society have derived benefits from the support of volunteers. The areas of sports and event, in particular rely on volunteers that act as a significant human resource to host a successful event. The Olympic Games is one of the largest example of sport events at a global level that cannot be performed without the efforts of the millions of volunteers. The 2000 Sydney, 2004 Athens Olympic Games relied on over 40,000 volunteers, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games had 100,000 volunteers involved in competition venues, the Olympic villages and transportation. The 2012 London Olympic Games had more than 70,000 volunteers at the games across a sixteen-day event. Volunteers are often considered to be the representatives of the game and the image of the organisation and the games entirely relies on the volunteers and their involvement at the event.
Volunteering is essentially a give-and-take relationship, where individuals offer their time, skills and energy to help an event and experience various benefits. Major sport event volunteers are probably expected to participate in future volunteering opportunities to the extent that they have experienced positive outcomes as a result of the opportunities in the past. It is important to pay attention to the other main factors of volunteering such as motivation, satisfaction and retention of volunteers. To draw interest in sport event volunteers the event managers should recognize the motivation of sport event volunteers and the relation to satisfaction, commitment and retention of volunteers.
The firs section of this essay is volunteer motivations and satisfaction. Volunteers are an important factor in sport events as they provide managers or supervisors with the ability to offer, maintain or expand the quality, quantity and diversity of services provided by their organisations. Motivation is used in psychology to describe a state of pressure that seeks balance through action. With each individual having their own personal identity, attitude and belief they correspondingly have different motivations to participate in an event/activity. In the case of this study, motivations are an important topic for understanding the mind-set of volunteers.
There are several reasons why people choose to volunteer at events and these can be divided into three major categories including: Demographic Antecedents (defined as personal resources and assets that one must have to be able to volunteer; Motivations (these are specific and necessary for the volunteer in order to want to volunteer) and Circumstances (triggers and opportunities which are facilitated and prompt volunteering in practice and are required to volunteer). Motivations for each individual can be different due to their current or past experiences in their personal and professional life. Research conducted by Bang and Chelladurai (2003) at the 2002 FIFA World Cup found several motivational factors which they outlined in their Volunteer Motivation Scale for International Sporting Events. The results of their research disclosed six factors of motivations for volunteering in sport events:
They also noted that due to the environment of the international event the purpose for volunteering in the event related to the specific event itself rather than the simple reason of assisting others. The results of their analysis strengthen the motivational pattern of volunteers at large scale sporting events. However, Bang and Chelladurai’s (2003) study did not observe all the motives that could encourage a person to volunteer. So to cover other motivational aspects Bang and Ross (2009) conducted further research on what motivates people to volunteer in sport events. This study concentrated on the volunteers and their love for sports and revealed that this factor was a strong motivational factor amongst event volunteers. The findings of their study also supported the thought that volunteer’s motivation for sporting events will be similar not considering whether they are large scale or small scale.
Other than the motivational factors for volunteers to participate in an event another important element for them is to maintain their motivation throughout the event in order to deliver it successfully. Organisers should be able to identify the different motivations of each volunteer and match them to the roles they are given at the event. This process will not only help the volunteer but also the organisation as they can deploy skills and expertise in specific areas and volunteers will be able to deliver a better performance when assigned a task. Volunteers tend to improve their performance when given specific tasks as this helps to make them feel personally useful.
In order to effectively sustain motivation to volunteer at an event there must be a relationship with satisfaction. There is a study conducted by Farrell et al. (1998) that proposes that there is a correlation among volunteer, volunteer motivation, satisfaction and actual experience. Volunteers will be motivated and will remain volunteering as long as they are satisfied with their experiences and gain some level of reward. Volunteering offers individuals with opportunities to express their views, gain knowledge about new areas/things and improve their self-confidence and value. The satisfaction of volunteers can vary in different contexts. Silverberg et. al (2001) in their study of parks and recreation volunteers found that satisfaction is a f psychological function and having a job that is met by participating as volunteers. Another group of researchers studied the volunteers at the Sunbelt Indy Carnival that is held annually in Gold Coast, Australia. Their research was to identify the reasons of volunteer satisfaction, and their study found that beyond the actual event, training the volunteers was a key role in their satisfaction as it gave them an opportunity to share their views and experiences. This added a sense of community at the event and positively lead to impact their level of satisfaction. To have a more consistent and reliable instrument to measure volunteer satisfaction Galindo et. al. (2001) designed Volunteer Satisfaction Index (VSI). Their method comprised of about forty items and was consisted of about five different factors of volunteer satisfaction:
The findings also produced positive outcomes in concerns to supporting the reliability and validity of the VSI. Their method focused on the individual benefits gained from volunteering. The method has been tested with people who have different cultures. One of them was Chinese nationality. The research conducted by Wong et. al (2010) noted that the volunteers highlighted interpersonal relationships (relations with the organisations and co-workers). This study further highlighted that satisfaction can be differently achieved from different sources across the globe and it may vary with the different cultures of the world. These different factors have been assessed independently into the sports sector but have not been incorporated altogether. This has further helped to asses the different sources of satisfaction in certain areas and improve. Understanding not only volunteer satisfaction but also future intention is critical because of the nature of volunteerism. This includes both volunteers with previous experience and first time volunteers. If volunteers do not have a satisfying experience, it is likely that they would leave one organisation to perhaps volunteer at another. This is critical because of the heavy reliance of volunteers for sport events. In order to effectively recruit, retain and maintain volunteer it is crucial for organisations to understand the different factors that drive people to volunteer.
Over the past few years, the rise in competition, globalization and the endless change in marketplaces and technology has provided motivation for reconsidering the different management styles of organizations. Volunteer retention is an essential task for many organizations. However, the tasks assigned to the volunteers can be under severe strain if the volunteers are not productive. Since the volunteers do not rely on the organizations for any monetary payments, their commitment or motivation to their work must come in different ways. Sozanska et. al. (2004) reason that if the organizations want the volunteers to be productive they need to be managed efficiently and professionally. According to Boezeman and Ellemers (2008) a volunteers’ commitment to the organization would eventually be perceived on the significance of volunteer work and support of the organization. According to their reason, the significance of the job boosted the volunteer’s pride in the company, whereas structural support increased the respect volunteers’ have for the organization. A similar finding was reported by Cuskelly et. al (2006) in their study of rugby clubs in Australia, that the associations that used better planning exercises and provided appropriate training and support were less likely to have any retention problems. These studies imply that the organizations can increase their volunteers’ commitment by communicating the importance of the organization work and the contributions of the volunteer’s work to that.
Different research journals show that volunteering bodies suffer due to the increase in dropout of volunteers and their turnover. There seem to be other factors that contribute to the problem of volunteer retention which include volunteer motivation, satisfaction, organizational practices (such as preparation, recruiting people, selection, orientation, training, etc., globalization, the rapid increase in technical evolution. However, these different studies are not even in recognizing which factor has a high influence on the other. There are several examples that can explain this in detail. For example, in the case of Hager and Brudney, (2004) a survey was conducted where they presented nine management practices to their respondents who involved volunteers’ in their functions. The survey included some practices and the results of the survey indicated the different percentages of the different practices used.
Their findings suggested that only one of the practice regular supervision and communication with volunteers was mostly adapted to a large extent. The results also indicated that not all practices should be adopted but some such as selection of volunteers and assigning them with appropriate tasks can be important. In the other case where Cuskelly et. al. (2006) indicated that except for preparation and orientation other aspects of management that are mentioned above did not have a substantial correlation with retention of volunteers. These different studies indicate the different researches carried out in the area of volunteer retention. However, none of the different studies come to a similar conclusion. These different studies indicate the need for developing a method that can help address the cause of volunteer retention in different organizations and on volunteers.
With the basic momentum to handle everybody equally and impartially, volunteer managers frequently fail to identify that individual dissimilarities play a significant role in response that volunteers have and their desire to continue volunteering. Wymer (2003) suggests, managers must not view the volunteers as monolithic groups, but they have to focus on the individuals by investing time trying to understand who they are and their specific motivations.
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