The Effect of Volunteers on Paid Workers' Excess Turnover in Nonprofit and Public Organizations

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Volunteers in nonprofit and public organizations can provide additional resources and exert positive influence on organizations, staff, and clients. However, the relationship between paid staff and volunteers is complex and may lead to tension, employee dissatisfaction, and, ultimately, workers leaving the organization. This article focuses on excessive worker turnover as a signal of delicate organizational health and analyzes whether volunteers are an important variable in explaining differences in excess turnover rates between organizations. Using Austrian survey data and applying Tobit regressions, we show that more volunteers in management tasks compared with volunteers employed in other tasks increase both the probability of experiencing excess worker turnover and the amount of excess turnover. This result is interpreted as a possible sign for volunteer–staff tension. Understanding the consequences of using volunteer labor for paid workers is important to prevent volunteering from backfiring on service capacity and quality in public and nonprofit organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256 - 275
JournalReview of Public Personnel Administration
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 506009 Organisation theory
  • 502024 Public economy
  • 502026 Human resource management
  • 502023 NPO research

Cite this