Working for money or voluntarily – is there a difference?

Well, it depends on whether you want to stuff your pocket,
but generally not.

During my years of involvement in non profit management I have learned a lot. I have learned how to appreciate committed and motivated people’s work, and have seen how the outside world just simply does not understand the enthusiasm and dedication for work that volunteers don’t get paid for.  (I have to state that this lack of understanding is especially strong in countries like mine (Hungary) where voluntary work is neither valued nor understood.)

I have also learned that it does not matter if you pay someone or not for a task, if he or she is motivated enough by external or internal factors, understands the meaning and sees the „big picture” of a situation. If the person sees his part in the development of great accomplishment; if that person is publicly appreciated and is supported by fellow team members, it does not matter if you pay them a dime or not.

This becomes increasingly true if one is secure and has a solid financial base allowing that person to be generous with their time.

If I can go a bit deeper, certainly this entire can be better understood if we take the hypothetical case of a person performing two different tasks: The main task for which this person receives compensation is in sales activity, selling soap to large distributors.  Our person hates the product, hates their colleagues.  They feel that management does not give a damn about their opinion, but they have a five figure monthly salary. Their other task involves work for a volunteer organization as the marketing officer of an NGO that runs projects in the field of community development.  Every day our hypothetical worker gets thanked by the local people who benefit from his work, but does not receive a single penny. Most probably (since let’s say our example is not a moron) she is doing equally well in both positions, but most likely is going to leave the paid job at the first possible opportunity leaving the workplace to search for an equally productive employee.

What can a business leader learn from all this? Try to create a workplace that combines these two factors: a good salary and a great work environment where you depend on your people and let them know you count on them.  A workplace where you ask for the input of your people, respecting even the least of their ideas.  Thank your people, show you value them, and finally have FUN. In this way you can expect your people to work with joyful happiness!

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