Many nonprofits tend to focus most of their energy on fundraising, pursuing donors, and managing volunteers. However, dedicating time and effort to prospective and current staff members is just as important to keep operations running smoothly so you can further your mission.
As your nonprofit’s human resources department might tell you, there are plenty of challenges associated with hiring, training, and retaining staff. For example, your nonprofit might struggle to create a competitive compensation package due to budget constraints. If your nonprofit is experiencing staffing challenges, it might be time to try something new to improve your hiring and staffing practices.
Your nonprofit can use microcredentials to mitigate many of the challenges associated with managing your staff. As defined by Skyepack, microcredentials are short, stackable courses that learners take to develop a specific skill. When used strategically, these courses can help you address staffing challenges like decreased employee retention.
These four signs could indicate that your nonprofit is ready to invest in microcredentials:
- Difficulty finding applicants.
- Inefficient training methods.
- Low retention rates.
- Gaps in your employees’ skills.
One of the most important (and difficult!) parts of staffing your organization is attracting highly qualified employees to take on needed roles. If your organization’s stream of applications has slowed to a drip, you might need to start looking into microcredential courses. Let’s get started!
1. Difficulty finding applicants.
As a nonprofit professional, you might not have the tools you need to get the word about open positions to the right people. Even if your organization does reach those people, sometimes it’s still not enough to motivate candidates to apply. After all, not every compensation package will be attractive to qualified prospective employees.
It’s no secret that compensation is a major factor job candidates use when deciding which roles to apply for. While your nonprofit may not have the resources to offer the same salaries as a for-profit business, including microcredentials in the benefits contained in your compensation package can add more value.
Here are a few reasons why microcredentials can entice talented individuals to apply to your nonprofit’s job posting:
- Microcredentials bolster your compensation package. Take a total rewards approach to compensation by adding additional value with microcredentials. In other words, the salary you offer should only be one part of a competitive compensation package. Think of microcredentials as paid learning opportunities akin to other benefits or perks like health insurance and flexible scheduling.
- They are career-development opportunities. By expanding their skills and knowledge, microcredentials can help your employees advance in their careers. With the skills they learn, they can be eligible for promotions, increase the skills they have to offer, and expand their department’s overall capabilities. Many talented, qualified applicants will be looking for ways to develop their careers while working for your nonprofit, so highlighting these opportunities in your job listing is key.
- They show that you value your employees. Prospective employees search for employers that will invest in them. By devoting a part of your organization’s resources to furthering its employees’ education and skill sets, your nonprofit shows that it values contributions from staff members. This could even serve as an indicator of positive company culture, further motivating prospective employees to apply.
High-quality employees are looking for high-quality employers. Meet your prospective employees’ expectations by giving them paid training opportunities with microcredential courses.
2. Inefficient training methods.
While traditional training methods like classroom-based programs can work for some organizations, they do have some drawbacks. For example, because a senior-level employee at your organization will need to teach the training sessions, you’ll likely see a dip in your productivity levels. It can also be difficult to manage training schedules, particularly if your organization is training a large group of employees at once.
Microcredentials can help combat these issues and make your nonprofit’s workplace training more effective. When compared to traditional training methods, microcredentials are more:
- Time-efficient. With virtual training resources like microcredentials, learners can train whenever and wherever they have time. This not only saves would-be instructors time but also allows employees to take training at their own pace.
- Cost-effective. Using these courses can save your nonprofit money over time. For example, you might pay a one-time fee to create a high-quality, custom microcredential course rather than shouldering the recurring costs associated with paying senior staff to train new hires.
- Flexible. With microcredentials, employees can choose which courses they take part in. They can focus on the courses they are most interested in and choose to skip courses teaching skills they are already proficient in.
To stay on top of new skills and trends that crop up in your industry, it’s best to create a culture that motivates employees to continue learning. Using microcredentials and open educational resources can help fill in gaps in your employees’ foundational education and abilities while providing more up-to-date knowledge.
3. Low retention rates.
Low employee retention rates can have a myriad of negative impacts on your nonprofit. Low retention could indicate dissatisfaction and a lack of engagement among staff. It can also cost your nonprofit thousands of dollars due to the lower productivity levels associated with hiring new employees.
At worst, low retention rates could indicate severe problems within your organization’s hiring and staff management practices. However, many of these issues can be solved when your organization invests in microcredentials.
Poor hiring and onboarding practices.
If you find that your organization’s short-term retention rates are low, look at your hiring and onboarding processes first. For example, your compensation package might not hold up to the others in the job market, deterring potential applicants. Or, your onboarding process might leave new hires feeling confused and thinking they aren’t right for the role.
With microcredentials, your organization can shape up your compensation plan by including paid training opportunities. Your organization can also create a custom microcredential course for new hire onboarding. Then, when you hire a new employee, you’ll have an organized, high-quality course to train them with.
Few opportunities for growth.
When employees can’t see a path toward a promotion, raise, or other career development opportunity, they might feel like their job isn’t going anywhere. As much as they may feel inspired and motivated to help your organization further its mission, your employees likely have career development goals they’d like to meet. If your nonprofit doesn’t give employees the tools to meet those goals, they might consider leaving.
Give your employees the chance to grow while working for your organization. Microcredentials allow them to take part in paid training opportunities that boost their skills so they can be better employees. You can even create courses that teach valuable leadership skills to help them prepare for the responsibilities they’ll take on after a promotion.
If your employees feel bored in their roles, they might start to lose their drive to perform their jobs well. This can lead to losses in productivity and employees who don’t feel enthusiastic about coming to work. Without the opportunity to expand what they can do in their role, bored employees may seek out a more exciting position at a different organization.
By giving your employees ways to learn more about a certain skill set, you can help them expand their offerings and responsibilities in a way that benefits your nonprofit. For example, if your organization is smaller, you could provide microcredential courses about prospect research to build out a development team. Your employees get to expand their role’s responsibilities, and your organization gains a new department of educated employees.
4. Gaps in your employees’ skills.
Sometimes there are gaps between the skills your employees have to offer and the capabilities your industry requires for your organization to be successful. This means that your nonprofit will likely need to upskill its employees by having them either learn new skills or enhance existing ones.
One of the best ways to facilitate new skills training for your employees is with microcredentials. With these courses, your nonprofits can design courses to teach employees the exact skills they need to be competitive in your sector. If you create custom courses with the help of a team of professional instructional designers, you can pick and choose the exact information you’d like to include so your employees learn the most important skills and information.
For the best results, research the most effective way to design courses that will teach these new skills. Skyepack’s Agile Instructional Design model applies principles from the Agile software development framework to its instructional design strategy. Their team of experts uses these principles to create digital course materials that are customized, dynamic, and affordable.
While staffing is one of the most challenging parts of running a nonprofit organization, it can become one of the most rewarding when you find and retain qualified employees. By implementing microcredentials to enhance your compensation plan, improve training, and show that you value your staff, you can foster long-term employee loyalty and a workplace that encourages continuing education opportunities.