The saying “it takes a village” is definitely true for HOAs. Homeowner Associations need volunteers to be successful. Every owner has something to contribute to the community association. But, only a few owners are usually willing to volunteer their time. If just a handful of volunteers do everything in your HOA, be careful that you don’t inadvertently overwork them.
Responsibilities for a volunteer can mushroom over time. It’s easy to do when one task naturally leads to another. For example, doing a newsletter can lead to maintaining a website, social media pages, and more. Eventually, the volunteer may resign because responsibilities that started out for one person grew into a two- or three-person job. Watch for signs that your volunteer(s) are overworked — constant fatigue, complaints, crankiness, overreaction to minor problems, and poorly executed or late assignments. Ask your volunteers about workload and encourage feedback.
Spread responsibilities for leading key functions among different volunteers. It’s simple to call on a natural leader to run a committee, execute social events, etc. You always know that the job will be done correctly. However, it’s best if you don’t let one or two people run the show. Resignation by a key volunteer is challenging for the community. But, a resignation by someone who leads multiple community efforts can easily debilitate the community to the point where several functions may have to be postponed or canceled.
It’s the best volunteers who are usually most prone to burnout, but it can happen to anyone. Traits that make an excellent volunteer — dedication, can-do attitude, meeting deadlines — are also traits that can lead to burnout. As an HOA Board, you can take a few measures to help prevent burnout among your volunteers.
Awareness of workload is the first step. Get to know your volunteers so that you understand a little about their other volunteer work and family obligations. Pay attention to their involvement and contributions. Keep the communication channels open so you can reduce work or suggest help if their situation changes.
Prepare job descriptions with estimated times so you and your volunteer agree on the commitment. Illnesses and family emergencies happen, so this is an excellent time to create a contingency plan so your volunteer(s) don’t have to worry if they have a crisis.
Establish a policy that requires volunteers to take some time off every three to four months. Volunteers do a lot of work, so it’s important that they also take time off for rest and relaxation.
Good volunteers are hard to come by so it’s important to make sure that you take care of them. Remind them that what they do makes a difference. “It takes a village” to create a flourishing community.