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Workforce Research Update – Burnout, Cause and Localism: Working in the VCSE Sector

We have had an update on our research on the VCSE workforce research from Jim Thomas, we hope you have had a chance to feed into this work if you wish to.

People are motivated to work in the VCSE sector for many reasons. Recurring themes include:

  • People volunteer because a family member is using a particular service, or has used that service in the past.
  • People retiring from a range of different roles and looking to take on a new career.
  • People looking for a paid job that enables them to continue to contribute to their local community.
  • People who feel burnt out by their existing career and are looking for a job or a volunteering role that enables them to rebuild their own life, whilst continuing to contribute to their local community.

Seeing the whole picture and being able to get involved with people over a long period is one of the reasons people choose to work in the VSCE sector.

‘When they come to a charity, they can see the whole view of the person instead of just a snapshot of them, we get really good feedback that they can support them from A to B. If A to B takes two years and that’s within their role, the fact that they can see that progression and support them along that path is incredibly important. It’s also one of the bits of feedback we get from volunteers as well as being able to see the whole person they get to support people along their whole journey.’

Local Community

Local community and personal experience are key motivations for many people. This can include locality defined by working with a particular group of people with particular care and support needs – or people living in a certain locality or using a particular service. For example, one VCSE organisation highlighted their conservation work and how a double focus around horticulture and support to a particular group of people can draw in volunteers who come because they want to support people with mental health needs and then find they love gardening as well, and vice versa.

‘Without the volunteers, we wouldn’t have the gardens that we have to offer for people to relax and enjoy and learn and to that end, there are people that access our services because they’ve got specific skill set, they’ve got horticulture skills, gardening skills or they’re used to work in nursing or teaching, and they want to support others. Whether that’s supporting people or supporting the environment, that’s something that people you know have that value.’ 

Recruitment Challenges

With organisations regularly putting out adverts and getting little or no response, or responses from people that aren’t suitable for the jobs that are out there. As one senior leader suggests.

‘We have had vacancies go out and not filled them and I think part of the reason for that is like a lot of voluntary organizations, we’re not in the easy position to just say oh well, we’ll have to pay more for the job and the things that traditionally we’ve relied on to attract people in where salaries aren’t as high as, other things you might be able to go and do aren’t working as well because people really are feeling the pinch and money has become for more people has become the prime motivator.’

This is a conundrum for a lot of organisations, but particularly for VSCE organisations which may not have the financial headroom to be able to pay another 10%.

It’s also important to reflect that the charity sector is no different when it comes to recruitment, particularly because a lot of the individuals that they are looking to recruit are coming from the adult health and social care area.

This is compounded by commissioners putting out things for a one-year pilot project or one-year contract and expecting that the voluntary sector can recruit within 10 minutes. In contrast, they know that their own organisation is also facing recruitment challenges.

The voluntary organisation’s mission is often highlighted in exit interviews as people move on from the voluntary sector – with people feeling very aligned with what the VCSE organisation is trying to do. Values are the key reason people decide to move into VCSE but they may not be enough to keep them there.

Get in touch if you would like to feed in your insight to the research project Jim is leading.

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