Perceptions of Pressure to Volunteer in an Employee Volunteering Program May Undermine Future Intentions

Stukas, A. (La Trobe University), Young, S. (La Trobe University), Nagpal, S., (La Trobe University)

Employee volunteerism programs (EVPs) allow companies to demonstrate corporate social responsibility (Grant, 2012). EVPs typically enjoy high employee support. However, if companies pressure employees to volunteer, this might reduce motivation and satisfaction (Stukas et al., 1999). We surveyed ~300 volunteers from a large Australian corporation. Employees could volunteer one day per year anywhere. Measures included short versions of the Volunteer Functions Inventory (Clary et al., 1998) and the Multidimensional Work Motivation Scale (Gagné et al., 2015) alongside satisfaction, future intentions to volunteer, and perceptions of corporate motivations for EVPs. Overall, satisfaction and future intentions were high and positively correlated with primary VFI motivations (values, understanding, enhancement) and self-determined motivation (intrinsic/identified). However, some volunteers (~25%) reported experiencing pressure to volunteer (“a little” to “a great deal”) and also lower future intentions [t(263) = 2.76, p = .006, d = .39]; this effect was mediated by reduced intrinsic motivation (b = .02, SE = .01, 95% CI:.003, .045). Moreover, perceptions of pressure moderated the relationship between past volunteering and future intentions (beta = .32, t = 2.93, p = .004); pressure r = -.20 (p = .13) vs. no pressure r = .23 (p = .003). Mediation was not moderated and satisfaction was not affected, however those experiencing pressure reported more cynical perceptions of the company’s motivations. We discuss implications for encouraging volunteerism.

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Applied Social Psychology