Addressing Nonprofit Staff Turnover with Technology Training

This article was originally posted on NonProfit PRO’s Nonprofit Tech Matters blog.

If you’ve worked in the nonprofit sector for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard colleagues talk about the high rate of staff turnover in the industry. Pinpointing that rate seems to be tricky – especially over the past few years – as multiple studies and articles cite different turnover rates and predictions for the future.

No matter what the rate really is, staff turnover is clearly on the minds of nonprofit professionals. Articles about topics such as finding the workers an organization needs and why nonprofits should make peace with turnover are making headlines.

You might be seeing effects of the “Great Resignation” at your organization. On top of that, you might find that economic inflation now means tighter budgets and possible layoffs or hiring freezes for your nonprofit. So, what can you do to adapt? How can you continue to tackle the work that needs to be done to achieve your organization’s mission?

How your nonprofit’s approach to technology training can impact staff turnover
One thing you might not have thought about is how your approach to technology training can impact employee satisfaction and efficiency as well as staff turnover. Here are two things to consider:

  • As new workers come on board, they are more likely to be more productive, faster, if they can get up to speed quickly on your organization’s technology and related processes.
  • Staff members are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs (and stick around longer) if they feel confident using your organization’s technology and if they know where to go when they have questions about how to use it or they want to learn how to use it better.

TIP: When employees do leave your organization, it’s important to have processes in place to remove their access to your technology systems immediately to ensure there is no unauthorized access to your systems.

How to improve technology training for your staff
Despite the potential positive impact on staff turnover, improving technology training at your nonprofit might seem like just another project you don’t have time to tackle. But it can be relatively easy if you turn to the right resources. For example:

  • Check with your technology platform vendors.
    Most technology vendors offer a variety of resources to help your staff learn more about how to use their products. A few examples:
    • On-demand training – Check to see if your technology vendors offer on-demand training options. For example, Salesforce offers a wealth of trainings via Trailhead (see image). Blackbaud offers Blackbaud University. Many of these types of trainings – especially the basic trainings – are free to customers and offer a quick and convenient way for your staff to better understand how to use your organization’s software to complete their daily tasks. Staff can also take refresher courses or uplevel their skills as needed. Find out more about your on-demand training options, and encourage your team to take advantage of what’s available.
    • Customer support – Many software vendors include basic customer support with their products. One of my personal favorites is online chat systems. Even if they start with a chat bot, you can often quickly talk to an actual support person via chat. Some offer additional customer support options. Depending on your organization’s needs, it can be worth it to upgrade your customer support level to ensure your team has the support they need when they need it.
    • Help menus – For user self-service, many software products offer “help” functionality in which you can search for answers to common questions directly in the software (see example image from Engaging Networks). Make sure your staff knows about this option if it’s available, and encourage them to use it.
    • Online user community – If your software vendor offers an online user community, consider getting more involved with it. This is an ideal place for your staff to ask questions, learn from other users, and even share knowledge with others in the community.
    • Conferences – Many larger software vendors hold annual user conferences, and some offer an affordable and convenient online attendance option. These events are often excellent places to get additional training, learn tips and best practices for optimizing your technology, and become a more engaged member of the user community.
  • Talk to your client success manager.
    If you aren’t sure what learning and support options are available to your organization, check with your client success manager at your technology vendor. For most major nonprofit technology vendors, this person will be able to point you to the available resources that will meet your staff’s specific needs.
  • Get custom training and support.
    Sometimes, you might need more online training and support than software vendors provide – for example, if you have a highly configured or customized implementation of the technology. In this case, consider working with one of your software vendor’s service partners. Most vendors’ service partners can provide added help for your staff, such as:
    • Custom training to help your staff better understand how the product works within your organization’s specific implementation.
    • User support for when your staff has questions, such as how to complete a specific task or how to make a change in the software.
    • Staff support when you need an extra set of hands to get day-to-day work done.

Technology training and support for your team can make a positive impact on staff productivity and employee satisfaction. Take the time to review your training and support program, and make sure you have the right levels in place for your organization.  

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