When joining is not enough: emergency services volunteers and the intention to remain

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Volunteer turnover is a continuous concern for emergency services organisations. Using a psychological contract perspective, this paper examines how meeting the initial expectations of volunteers when they join an emergency service is related to the volunteer's intention to remain with that service. A survey was undertaken by 539 emergency services volunteers in Western Australia after volunteering for about a year. The survey included questions about reasons why volunteers joined the service, activities they expected to undertake as a volunteer, their evaluation of the volunteering experiences in the first year and their intent to stay. Using Latent Class Analysis of their expectations, three types of volunteers were identified. These were 'focused' volunteers (having well-defined expectations), 'lost' volunteers (lacking clear expectations except for serving the community) and 'overenthusiastic' volunteers (expecting status, reputation and career progression among other things). The results showed that the focused volunteers had participated in more activities and had a higher intent to remain a volunteer. Having too few or too many expectations seems to have negative consequences. Therefore, emergency services organisations could strive to understand and shape volunteer expectations to match a new volunteer's experience by using better aligned recruitment practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-40
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Emergency Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


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