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V2T Internship / Training Volunteers

The tasks associated with the position Volunteer Trainer are described in the following directive. The points listed (guideline) are attractive for the future development of the project and should be implemented as V2T policy. The implementation of the guidelines will require a reasonable amount of time. A minimum of 6 months for the partial (basic) realization must be calculated. The implementation must be linear with the development of the project. Internship applicants for one year are preferred.

The induction process
It is vital for volunteer managers to take the induction process seriously. Induction is the first impression your new volunteer will get of your organisation and can make or break their commitment to your volunteer program. As a volunteer coordinator or manager, you need to ensure the process is professional, fun, organised and valuable.
 
What is an induction process?
Induction is the process of welcoming and familiarising new volunteers and staff with your organisation, their job and their workplace. Another name for the induction process is orientation. After completing induction, volunteers should be confident in completing their tasks, know who their manager or supervisor is and who they can go to for help. They should be aware of where to find necessary resources and be introduced to your organisation's volunteer policies, including occupational health and safety and dispute and grievance policies. The induction process can be completed with a group of new volunteers or individually. Ideally, all volunteers should complete the induction process before commencing work.
 
Why is the induction process important?
Starting a new job can be nerve racking and stressful. Self-doubt often creeps into a person's mind. For example, one might question how is it possible to remember everyone's names, how to get along with the boss and who can answer 'silly' questions. Volunteering at a new organisation is no different. Volunteers may be apprehensive about meeting new people, taking on responsibility and fitting in. A good induction program will make the new volunteer feel welcome and give him or her confidence in the nature of their role and who they can go to for assistance.
 
Other advantages of an effective induction process include:
 
Improved staff and volunteer morale
Increased productiveness
Reduction in new volunteer's anxiety
The induction process can also assist recruitment and training. A volunteer who feels comfortable in their role is more likely to ask for help and to encourage other people to join.
 
What to include in the induction?
Your induction program should suit the needs of your organisation and role of your volunteers. Some induction programs will go for half a day while others will last a week with continuous monitoring and supervision. Above all, volunteer inductions should be fun and valuable. This is your volunteer's first insight into your organisation and you want it to be positive. Remember volunteers who enjoy their work are more likely to be committed to the organisation and encourage their friends to volunteer.
 
Icebreakers are a great way to welcome new volunteers to an organisation and learn about their interests and experiences. As well as having fun, volunteers should also learn about the organisational chart, the organisation's vision and its values and goals, both short and long term. Ensure you give the volunteer all of the appropriate documentation. Don't underestimate the time it takes to print and gather all of the material!
 
Examples of what to give volunteers as part of an induction pack include:
 
Code of conduct
Sexual harassment policy
Role descriptions
Handbooks
Previous annual reports
Contact details
Organisational chart
Meeting schedule and calendar of upcoming events
After the induction, the new volunteer should have a strong understanding on what the organisation does and the role of volunteers and paid employment. The employees should also be made aware of your organisation's recognition and reward programs and training opportunities.

Designing your induction program
Decide how long you want the induction process to go for and whether groups or individual volunteer inductions suit your organisation. See our page on Induction and orientation programs for more tips on groups and individual induction programs. For both group and individual inductions, it's a good idea to create a formal or informal checklist of what to talk about and what to include. This will make each induction easier than the last and ensure you don't forget vital information for example, where the evacuation point is!
 
This is also great for succession planning. If you thoroughly document the induction process, it will be easy for someone to takeover if you are sick or when you leave. Ensuring the volunteer program is sustainable is a huge feat for some organisations.
 
Induction checklist
Suggestions for what to include in your induction checklist include:
 
Demonstrate how to use the equipment, including telephone, fax, email systems (eg. Outlook, gmail), and advise on internal and external mail processes
Show the location of toilets, meeting rooms, kitchen/tea rooms
Explain parking regulations/locations and public transport options
Show the location of first aid kits, emergency exits and emergency assembly point
Explain visitor procedures, how to book meeting rooms, cars and resources
Introduce new volunteers to colleagues and managers
If appropriate, assign a work colleague as a mentor for the initial settling in period
Not all of the above ideas will be relevant to your organisation and the role of your volunteer. It is essential that you customise the induction process and only give your new volunteer relevant information. Many people feel overwhelmed when they are given new information; it's best to give short concise versions of documents.
 
Other things to include
It is also important to explain:
 
Start and finish times
Tea and/or lunch breaks
Reimbursement policy
Uniforms (if applicable)
Flexible volunteer options
Emergency evacuation procedures
Your expectations of workplace behaviour and your policy on sexual harassment
For long term volunteer assignments, a volunteer manager may also want to discuss with the new volunteer/volunteers the following:
 
Position description
Performance expectations
Performance appraisal process
Training and development opportunities
If appropriate, the volunteer and volunteer manager/coordinator could set performance expectations and goals for the next six months. 
 
In summary, an effective induction process should:
 
Welcome the new volunteer by providing personal and professional support and demonstrating commitment to them
Integrate the new volunteer into the workplace and explain how they fit into the organisation
Allow the new volunteer to assimilate information about the workplace and their role
Provide important information and resources that will assist the new volunteer
Enable the new volunteer to be independent and proficient in their role as soon as possible
 
Induction and orientation programs
Many different induction and orientation programs exist. It's important to carefully research and plan induction and orientation programs by picking the best ideas from existing programs. When designing volunteer induction, make sure the process reflects your organisation and meets the needs of your new volunteer, their role in the organisation and the organisation itself.
 
Induction and orientation programs are normally run in-house and can range from half a day to one week.
 
In-house inductions
In-house inductions use the skills and resources from inside your organisation. It's about welcoming new volunteers to the organisation and making them feel comfortable and confident to ask for assistance and help if needed. If your organisation has the space, it's best to run the induction session internally. This allows new volunteers to become familiar with the building and how to get there and more importantly, makes the volunteer feel like part of the team.
 
External inductions
However, if you don't have the office space to hold large scale inductions, don't fret. If your organisation is largely driven by volunteers outside of normal business hours, it is also acceptable to hold volunteer inductions where you usually have meetings for example, at a café or restaurant, or a neighbourhood house or community centre. It's best to complete the induction with new volunteers before inviting them to a regular meeting or before the meeting commences.
 
While this may seem unusual, it is important that new volunteers are up to speed with the organisational structure, policy and procedures, and vision and goals of the organisation before they start attending meetings. For many people, it is very easy to get lost in meetings and not feel comfortable contributing. This is particularly true for new members. It is important for new volunteers to feel welcome and confident that they can contribute to your organisation.
 
Group inductions
If you are recruiting a large group of volunteers to work in a team or undertake similar roles, it is ideal to hold a group induction. Group inductions are time and cost effective. They also build team spirit, give volunteers the opportunity to meet each other and allow group work.
 
Group work is particularly valuable because it provides the opportunity for everyone to have a say, especially those who are a little shy. It also allows the volunteer coordinator to identify potential leaders. Activities that are ideal for group work include identifying roles and responsibilities of volunteers, brainstorming motivations for volunteering and expectations from volunteering. Identifying why individuals are volunteering early will help your efforts to retain and reward volunteers. See our pages on Rewarding and recognising volunteers for more information.
 
It's a great idea to provide catering for the induction process. This doesn’t mean ordering a feast delivered by the local café but can be as simple as bowls of mints, lollies, a platter of fruit or plate of biscuits. You should also have tea, water and coffee available. Providing light refreshments will make volunteers feel welcome and pleased that you have put in effort.
 
Icebreakers – how to do it right
Icebreakers are essential for any induction process on the condition that they are executed well. The execution is vital. If the icebreaker lacks creativity or the delivery is weak, it loses effectiveness and can be a negative experience.
 
A bad example is going around the room saying your name and sharing something personal. It doesn't work. How many of us miss the majority of names because we're too busy trying to think of something to say? It can make people uncomfortable and anxious thinking about what to share, especially in a room of strangers.
 
Done correctly, icebreakers will release tension in the room, create commonalities and bring laughter.
 
Good icebreakers are not associated directly with the person and their role at the organisation.
 
For example:
 
Three truths and a lie, participants are asked to think of four statements and share with the group. Three of the statements are a true and one is a lie. The group is asked to guess which 'fact' is a lie. The advantage to this icebreaker is that it's more interactive, so everyone will have to think about each other.
Favourite vegetable – participants are asked to nominate their favourite vegetable
Sally likes skipping – participants are asked to create an alliteration with their name or think of a verb using the first letter of their first name. Participants are asked to go around the room voicing their name and what they like; the person next to them repeats what they said and adds their own name. This continues until everyone in the group has had a turn.
Good icebreakers can be creative, inclusive and fun. If done with the right level of enthusiasm, icebreakers can foster great team spirit and a fun environment.
 
Individual volunteer inductions
Individual volunteer inductions are similar to new employee inductions. They are a lot more businesslike and can be confronting for the volunteer. The emphasis is on discussing the volunteer's role, expectations and ensuring they feel comfortable working in the building and what to do if there is an emergency. Be mindful that the volunteer may feel like they are being interviewed or lectured. Rather than sitting in an office, take time out to sit at their desk, go out for coffee or walk around the office introducing the new volunteer to other volunteers and paid staff.
 
Remember, going through policy and procedures, organisational charts, communication and equipment systems and emergency procedures takes time. Make sure you allow enough time to spend with the volunteer or arrange for someone else to go through the more housekeeping topics.
 
Tips for making long term volunteers welcome:
 
If the volunteer has a desk, set it up with stationary and print off a welcome sign
Offer the volunteer something to drink when they first arrive
Thank the volunteer for coming
Ensure the volunteer doesn't feel stranded; either appoint a mentor or buddy who the volunteer can go to for help or establish an open-door policy where the volunteer can come to your office for assistance.
Individual inductions are great for specific long term volunteer positions because it allows volunteer coordinators to get to know the volunteer and their motivations for volunteering.
 
Training volunteers
Training is an increasingly important aspect of attracting, supporting, retaining and rewarding volunteers.
Why is volunteer training important?
Training is important for the development, motivation and retention of volunteers. It can benefit your volunteers, your clients and your organisation by:
 
Improving the quality and consistency of the services your organisation provides
Ensuring your organisation caters for a diverse range of volunteers and their needs
Building your reputation as an organisation committed to supporting and developing its volunteers
Helping you to secure funding from government, business partners or philanthropic organisations
Making the volunteering roles you offer more attractive to prospective volunteers
Giving volunteers a deeper understanding of their role and motivating them to consider expanded or new roles
Rewarding volunteers for their commitment and involvement
Keeping existing volunteers involved in your organisation for the longer term
Providing volunteers with pathways to work or study opportunities
With the diversity of people who volunteer and the variety of roles and activities they undertake, training provides volunteers with the broad range of skills they need to be effective, competent, and confident volunteers.
 
What does volunteer training involve?
There are many ways to provide training for volunteers. Some organisations will have a formal volunteer training program that runs throughout a volunteer's lifecycle. Others might run an initial induction program and then schedule ad hoc informal training. Some might provide training in partnership with a local training provider such as a Neighbourhood House or community centre. Others might have a buddy system where volunteers support and mentor each other.
 
The point is that there is no set way to train your volunteers. The best method is the one that suits the principles of your organisation and the types of volunteers you have.
 
Whatever your approach to training, it's useful to view the training cycle as a series of steps that includes:
 
Working out what training you need
Deciding the objectives of your training
Plan and design the training
Doing the training (in-house or through a provider)
Evaluating the training
You can then use the results of your training evaluation to improve and refine your training program.
 
Whether you plan to develop your own in-house training or find relevant external programs (or mix up the training options) this approach will help you to develop an overall training strategy for your organisation.
 
What training do volunteers need?
While there are core skills that volunteers need to be more effective in their roles, the training needs of volunteers will depend on things like:
 
the principles and goals of your organisation
the different things volunteers do in your organisation
who your volunteers work with (e.g. clients, paid staff)
the backgrounds, skills and experiences of your volunteers
Some of the more common skills and competencies required by volunteers are listed on our What training do I need? page (in our Information for volunteers section). While these can give you ideas for your training program, there's no one-size-fits-all solution that works for every organisation.
 
A training needs assessment is a useful way to start planning a training program. This will help you work out what sort of skills volunteers need to do their work, what skills and knowledge they already have and what additional skills they need to acquire.
 
The results of the needs assessment will help you to define the objectives for your training program, i.e. which volunteers need training and what skills they need. Your needs assessment might actually conclude that your current volunteers have all the skills and knowledge they need.
 
Designing a training program
Once you have done a training needs assessment and defined your training objectives, you can start to plan and design the training program. Again, the kind of training you provide will depend on your organisation’s goals, what skills are required and what your volunteers are like.
 
Designing a training program involves:
 
Deciding who will design the training i.e. someone from within your organisation or external
Developing the content of the training
Deciding how to present the training, e.g. lecture, informal discussion, one-on-one mentoring, role play
Selecting materials to support the training e.g. video, guest speaker, hand-outs, books
Deciding the best setting for the training e.g. in the field, on the job, in a classroom
When designing your training also consider the different needs of your volunteers. Is it suitable for younger people, older people or people with different cultural backgrounds? Do you need to provide different kinds of training for different people? Or do you need to adjust your training to be more inclusive? Our Encouraging diversity toolkit has more information about ways to accommodate diversity in your organisation.
 
Doing the training
Once you've designed the overall training program you can then decide the best way to deliver it to your volunteers. You might choose a mix of in-house training and some formal classes. You might bring an external trainer or you might conduct the training yourself. There may even be some relevant online training your volunteers can do.
 
Whatever your approach, you will need to finalise venues, schedule training sessions, coordinate participants and (if you are doing the training internally) organise things like catering, training materials and technical equipment.
 
Evaluating the training
Evaluating the training is the best way for you to determine if it was successful and how you can improve future training.
 
You can use an evaluation form to collect feedback on your training sessions e.g. who attended, how much they learned, if the training was suitable, what techniques worked best and what information was missing.
 
At a later date you can also get feedback from volunteers about how they apply the training to their roles and other things that would help them to do their roles more effectively.
 
Options for volunteer training
While many organisations develop their own in-house training programs there may also be other opportunities to complement your volunteer training and development with classes, courses or workshops provided by external training providers, training organisations, volunteer resource centres, professional trainers or online services.
 
Developing in-house training
In-house training is a great way to develop the skills and confidence of your volunteers. It is typically low cost, draws on the knowledge and expertise of people within your organisation and is easily tailored to the needs of your volunteers.
 
You can also find a trainer to help you develop, deliver and evaluate your in-house volunteer training.
External training providers
For more generic training such as first aid, computer and administration skills or food handling you might find a local course or class that suits your volunteers perfectly.
 
External training providers include places like Neighbourhood Houses, community centres, adult learning centres, TAFE colleges or Registered Training Organisations.


written by Mr. Atthapon Phanat

Works at World Youth Alliance, Young World Ambassador at TYWA.org and Young World Ambassador at TYWA
Past: ASEAN Youth Leaders Association - Thailand and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative