Motivations, experiences and emotions: being an SES volunteer

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle in specialist publicationpeer-review


Little is known about why individuals volunteer with emergency services and what encourages and supports long-term engagement. Hazard Note 65 covers research that is providing insights and data nationally to help to develop new recruitment and retention strategies for SES volunteers.

Findings show that volunteers deeply value their connection to their unit, derive meaning from both positive and negative emotional experiences, and sometimes have vague expectations about emergency services volunteering. Managing the expectations of volunteers is not a simple task; some volunteers have too few expectations, and others too many. Both of these scenarios can lead to volunteers having a negative experience and influence their turnover intentions.

Based on the findings of the research, strategies to improve volunteer recruitment and retention rates are recommended to include a focus on managing the expectations of volunteers. These include better targeted recruitment messages that emphasise teamwork and personal development opportunities, onboarding (that is, induction, socialisation, and engagement) processes that convey clear expectations to new recruits, and retention policies that validate volunteers’ contributions and achievements.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationHazard Notes
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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