Motivating Unpaid Interns or Volunteers

Motivating Unpaid Interns or Volunteers: What happens to motivation when money is removed?

Motivating Unpaid Interns or Volunteers

There are two industry forces that have led me to publish this article.

i) With an increasingly competitive job market more and more young people are looking for unpaid work experience and internships.

ii) We are seeing a greater interest from people in doing meaningful voluntary work for local charities and community organisations (third sector).

I have been supporting organisations in the third sector for the last few years and have learnt a lot about what happens when money is taken away as the motivation to work. Increasingly I have come to realise that we all may have some things to learn about motivation from the best in class in this sector.

Here are my observations and Top 5 tips...

The problem here is that when it comes to motivation, most organisational managers are not skilled in knowing how to motivate and get performance from these people. The traditional tools of management simply won't work with voluntary/unpaid people because their motivations are so different to those of an employee.

If a manager wants someone to do something, their thoughts quickly turn to one of two motivational tactics – threat or reward. Of course, very few managers actually think that this is what they are doing, in fact, if you used this type of language to describe their actions you would probably cause offence. However, when you investigate the behaviours of managers closely, you will see that behind the façade of incentivisation is really just straightforward manipulation. Again, this is a word that most managers would deny or not associate with, so let me clarify with an analogy.

Imagine you have a child at the dinner table and you want them to eat their vegetables but they refuse...continue reading