Measuring Job Satisfaction of Volunteers in Public Parks and Recreation


  • Kenneth E. Silverberg
  • Elizabeth K. Marshall
  • Gary D. Ellis


Job satisfaction, volunteers, measurement, public parks and recreation management.


Approximately 50% of American adults volunteer their time in non-profit organizations with an estimated 150 billion dollars worth of services being provided annually (Independent Sector, 1990). Public parks and recreation agencies are some of the many public organizations that rely on volunteers. With such a heavy reliance upon volunteer workers in public recreation, measuring volunteers’ satisfaction becomes a serious concern. Previous studies have typically studied volunteer satisfaction by modifying scales designed for use with paid employees (Hershey, 1998; Pearce, 1983; Ronen, 1977). However, this research has generally proceeded without evaluation of the modified scales.The purpose of this study was to examine the reliability and validity of inferences that can be made about public parks and recreation volunteers’ job satisfaction from scores on a modified employee job satisfaction scale. Scale items addressed six satisfaction dimensions: nature of the work, contingent rewards, supervision, operating procedures, coworkers and communication. Participants included volunteers in the City of Phoenix, Arizona’s Parks, Recreation and Library Department (n=583). Results suggest that an overall satisfaction score on the volunteer satisfaction scale can provide a useful measure of satisfaction among parks and recreation volunteers. Results also suggest that volunteer satisfaction is a function of both job setting and psychological functions met by volunteering. For example, coaches in youth sports programs typically volunteer so that their children may participate in the program; results confirm that coaches experience high levels of volunteer job satisfaction when people they know (e.g., their children) are receiving benefits of participation.Because job satisfaction is a key factor in the retention of volunteers, as well as in the ultimate success and stability of recreation programs, park and recreation managers should consider the usefulness of evaluating the satisfaction of their volunteers. Obtaining measures of volunteer satisfaction can give managers a sense of whether or not the needs of the volunteers are being met. Examination of specific items or dimensions on the volunteer satisfaction scale can help managers pinpoint areas of concern. Finally, matching job setting and individuals’ reasons for volunteering can help increase satisfaction among parks and recreation volunteers. Taking the time to understand why people are volunteering can help when placing them in specific volunteer positions.





Regular Papers