3.7 Best Practice: Staffing and Volunteer Strategies

What We’re Hearing

Consistent and appropriate staffing makes all the difference. High staff turnover among owners, operators, and third parties is one of the most cited issues at shared stewardship sites, creating ruptures in the relationship.

Progress is often delayed or derailed as new staff is oriented to site details and relationship history. A lack of documentation creates issues for those stepping into a new role as they attempt to navigate the relationship with inadequate knowledge.

An operator’s ability to effectively staff a site is tied to funding availability. When a site is not managed under secure and sustainable financial circumstances, there are fewer opportunities for a full, permanent team of staff. Overreliance on the support of passionate volunteers in place of paying skilled professionals, as is commonly seen, is not sustainable in the long term.

Best Practices

Staffing strategies and structures are a key factor in the success of shared stewardship sites. Consistency in staffing at all levels sets the stage for the development of a long lasting, collaborative relationship. When changes in staff occur, it is important that new staff are thoroughly educated about the partner relationship and how it works. Detailed documentation can support a smooth transition that does not disrupt the partnership.

Best Practices for Owner

  • As owners are often distanced physically from the sites they manage, it is important to have staff who fully understand the ins and outs of each site in their portfolio.
  • Assign adequate human resources to managing the partnership and supporting its needs.
  • Understand that staffing a site with professional expertise requires funding to appropriately address professional level compensation.
  • Best Practices for Operator

  • Having strong leadership among your staff is essential to the site’s success. The strongest sites are often led by individuals with long term commitment and an innovative leadership style.
  • Respect the role of volunteers as supplementary to operations. If you cannot afford to hire staff, the bigger issue of financial sustainability should be explored in the partnership.
  • Best Practices for Third Parties

  • Third parties community groups are most often comprised of volunteers. While their contributions and community advocacy are essential to the site, dedicated staff are needed to fully address site operations on a professional level.