Tight budget, big plans—you’ve been there.

More often than not, nonprofit organizations are tasked with doing more with less. Oftentimes this means cutting costs and eliminating programs where you can in order to invest where it matters most.

But one cost nonprofits must realize they can’t afford to cut is training.  An investment in employee training can actually increase productivity, thus reducing costs and boosting employee retention.

The benefits of technology training:

  • Time savings:  The more comfortable an employee feels working within an application, the faster they are able to use it. It also helps to ensure everyone is following the same processes, so you will have less fixing of the data. This increases productivity, which can lead to a decrease in expenses.
  • Better system understanding: Generally, people are nervous the first time they use a new system and if they’ve not been trained properly on how to use it, they’re always wondering whether they’re doing things correctly. With training they are better equipped to properly use the systems and deal with any issues that arise.
  • Recruiting: People are not just looking at what compensation will be for a new job. They’re also evaluating the benefits they will receive. Seeing that an organization offers training and professional development can be a selling point to potential candidates.
  • Job satisfaction: The more engaged an employee is and the more valued they feel, the more likely they are to stay. If an employee feels empowered to grow, they’re more likely engage and invest in the organization’s long-term success.
  • Financial savings: It is  cheaper to train an employee than it is to hire a new one. Think of the financial burden of employee attrition: the cost of finding a  new employee, training the new member, and the loss of knowledge you lose from the employee that has left.

Things to consider when developing a training program

  • Management buy-in:  If leaders don’t believe in the value of training, why would the employees? Training needs to be encouraged and seen as a necessity, not a desire.
  • Management training: Training sessions aren’t just for power users. If a manager doesn’t understand how the system works, how can they assist their subordinate if they have questions? Also, how do you make decisions about processes and policies if you don’t have an understanding of how the system works?
  • Training paths: If your training program has numerous courses, let people know the order in which they should take the courses and how each course relates to their jobs. Employees needs to understand what is priority so that they can adjust their schedule to fit the necessary training sessions, without compromising their workload.
  • Different learning styles: Don’t just train on the application. Show the employees how it relates to their jobs and include examples. Don’t just talk but allow time for hands-on training.  There are three main learning styles, and most people learn best by a combination. Having listening and hands-on components allows for the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners to digest the information in ways that are meaningful to them. This will help them retain the information as well.
  • The good, the bad and the ugly:
    • Show them what is great about the system, how it will benefit their jobs and how it relates to their jobs. The more benefit they see to the system, the more likely they are to use it and use it properly.
    • Show them what isn’t so great, as no system is perfect. This can help to temper expectations that the system will be able to do everything.
    • Show them what can go wrong and how to fix it. Let’s face it, mistakes will happen. Show them how it can be fixed so that they are more likely to fix an error instead of simply ignoring it. Also, if you show them possible error messages, they won’t be as afraid of them when come up and will better equipped to manage the issue.

An investment in technology training is an investment in the health of your organization and the success of your employees. The return on your investment is worth the cost.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Johnson, IT Coordinator at Canadian Cancer Society AB/NT Division started working in the non-profit industry more than a decade ago after leaving the retail industry. Since then she has been a fundraiser, volunteer coordinator, website designer, IT trainer and project coordinator.

In her current role she project coordinates for the IT team and trains staff and employees on Raiser’s Edge, Luminate Online and other applications. She also assists in process and policy design taking into account data quality and ease of use for the end user. She is passionate for getting users who have never used the applications gaining knowledge and feeling comfortable to navigate the applications like a pro. She tries to translate the geek speak from the IT department into English for the users.

When not working, Jody provides respite work to special needs children, and creates cakes and other baked items for people to enjoy.

Get nonprofit articles, best practice advice, fundraising ideas and invaluable industry reports and webinars delivered for free!