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The literature review discussed several relevant theories pertaining to motivation, morale, job satisfaction and employee retention. Self-Determination Theory posits that there are three innate psychological needs – autonomy, competence and relatedness – that must be satisfied for people to feel motivated and fulfilled. Relatedness Need Theory suggests that developing strong relationships and a sense of belonging is critical for well-being and engagement. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs proposes that fulfilling basic needs like safety and esteem is necessary before motivation can occur. Equity Theory looks at perceptions of fairness in the workplace.

The interviews conducted with employees across different departments and experience levels generally supported and aligned with these theories. In terms of autonomy, many interviewees expressed a desire for more control and input over their roles and how they do their work. Those who had greater flexibility and independence reported higher levels of motivation compared to those in more strictly controlled roles. This supported Self-Determination Theory which emphasizes the importance of autonomy.

In relation to relatedness and connection, interview responses suggested that developing strong bonds with coworkers and managers enhanced morale and satisfaction. Employees who felt isolated or lacked opportunities for collaboration were less engaged. Those who discussed work-related issues and had an encouraging working environment appeared happier. This echoed Relatedness Need Theory about the motivational impact of belongingness.

When asked about competency and growth, interviewees frequently discussed the impacts of training and developmental opportunities. Feeling capable and constantly improving skills were tied to greater motivation. A lack of challenges or chances to expand responsibilities diminished motivation for some. Maslow’s idea that competence must be fulfilled prior to higher-level motivation was supported.

Several interviewees expressed concerns regarding equitable compensation, workload distribution and recognition policies. Perceived unfairness damaged their job outlook even if other factors like autonomy were present. Those who felt respected and that contributions were acknowledged were more positive. This aligned with Equity Theory’s propositions about the role of fairness perceptions in the workplace.

Basic needs like pay, benefits, workload and safety also emerged as factors influencing morale according to many interview responses. Those satisfied with these basic necessities were readier to engage more deeply while deficiencies hindered motivation. This paralleled Maslow’s foundational Hierarchy of Needs model.

Areas where interviews diverged somewhat from expectations involved relationships with managers. While connection to coworkers aided motivation per the literature, some manager interactions did not foster relatedness as much as anticipated. Barriers here included inconsistent communication, lack of appreciation shown and too little trust granted. Positive supervisory bonds paralleled the theories as expected based on comments.

The literature guided expectations of theoretical drivers of motivation in useful ways. With some nuances, findings from staff interviews tended to corroborate the importance of autonomy, relatedness/connection, competence, fairness/equity and fulfillment of basic needs as presented in the reviewed motivation/retention theories of Self-Determination, Relatedness Needs, Maslow and Equity. This provided confidence that the selected literature provided a relevant lens for comprehending factors shaping employee engagement uncovered through discussion. The alignment reinforced utilization of these concepts as a framework for analysis and recommendations going forward.

There was considerable coherence between what the literature predicted would influence workplace motivation and job attitudes according to established theories, and the experiential perspective gleaned from interviewing employees across levels and functions. Most findings resonated well with propositions regarding the impact of autonomy, relatedness, competence, fairness and satiation of basic requirements. This convergence supports having selected literature addressing the right theoretical constructs and confirms its utility as a basis for interpreting and responding to motivation and retention issues raised through the research process.


The first step is to research the various hospice programs in your local area. Most programs have websites that provide information about their mission, services offered, patient population served, and volunteer opportunities. You can start by doing an online search for “hospice programs near me” to find the options close to where you live. Browsing their websites will give you an initial idea of how each program operates and what types of volunteer roles they have available.

Beyond looking at individual program websites, it can also be helpful to search more broadly online for general information about common hospice volunteer roles and the skills/interests typically required for different positions. Some of the core volunteering needs across most hospice programs include: providing companionship for patients, assisting with activities of daily living, performing light housekeeping/meal preparation tasks, helping with administrative work or fundraising events, offering massage/relaxation support, engaging in music/art activities, or providing respite care for family caregivers. Understanding the scope of typical volunteer roles can help you identify what areas may be the best match based on your skills and interests.

Another valuable source of information is speaking directly with the volunteer coordinators at different hospice programs. Don’t hesitate to call programs you’re interested in and ask if you can schedule a short informational interview or volunteer orientation session to learn more. During these conversations, important questions to ask include: What types of volunteers do you need most? What are the time commitments like for different roles? What ongoing training do you provide? How involved with direct patient care can volunteers be? Do you serve any specific patient populations I’m passionate about (such as pediatric patients)? Speaking to coordinators face-to-face allows you to get customized details on each program beyond what’s on their website.

You’ll also want to consider practical factors like the locations served by different hospices and whether their service areas align with where you live or are willing to travel. Some examples include whether a program operates residential facilities you could volunteer at, or if they only provide in-home care requiring travel. The time commitments expected for various roles is another important consideration – some positions like direct patient companionship will require regularly scheduled visits whereas others like administrative help may be more flexible.

Once you’ve researched programs online and conducted informant interviews, the next step is often to attend volunteer information sessions held by individual hospices. These group orientation meetings are a low-pressure way to learn more details, have your questions answered, and even meet other volunteers. Seeing firsthand how programs operate and introduce themselves can help confirm which one is the closest fit based on mission alignment, populations served, volunteer needs, and time commitment requirements.

Even after narrowing it down to one or two top choices, it’s a good idea to see if you can shadow existing volunteers for a few hours to get a realistic idea of what specific roles entail before formally applying. Ask volunteer coordinators if you can briefly join patient visits, answer phones in the office, assist at an event, or help with other common volunteer tasks. Shadowing exposes you to the full experience and allows both you and the program to determine if the role matches your interests and capabilities.

Consider also speaking with current volunteers about what they enjoy most and find fulfilling working with that particular hospice. Peer perspectives provide an additional layer of valuable insight into the organizational culture, patient and staff relationships, and daily volunteer operations. Their input can help ensure realistic expectations by highlighting both rewards and challenges to expect from different roles.

Once you’ve thoroughly researched programs, roles, and visited or shadowed your top choices, you should have a clear sense of where your interests and strengths are the best fit. At that point, formal applications and background checks are usually the final step before onboarding and hands-on training with the hospice that aligns closest to your skills and passions in service of patients at end of life. Taking a comprehensive, multipronged approach to learning all you can is key to determining the hospice program volunteer needs that match your specific interests best and pave the way for a fulfilling and impactful volunteering experience.