How Technology Can Unlock a Charity’s Talent Potential

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In many ways, despite their not-for-profit nature, charities are just like any other sector in the workforce today. They share the same struggles and challenges. They make similar decisions regarding their company culture, their values and their overarching objectives. And charities have not escaped the modern war for talent that is causing concern across industries.

The war for talent is far from a new concept. When it comes to attracting and retaining the best and brightest, charities are competing with for-profit businesses. So how can third sector organisations bring the right employees on board to help them drive their missions forward? How can these not-for-profits engage, motivate and align people with their goals and get them to go that extra mile?

Thankfully, the answer isn’t money. Despite overriding assumptions to the contrary, money isn’t the great motivator you might think it is. Extrinsic motivators such as company cars or lavish bonuses aren’t very effective in the long run, as people are usually far more complex. What most modern employees are seeking is meaning and purpose. This is why people are attracted to charities, and this is something charities need to emphasise every step of the way.

Let’s take a closer look at how charities can utilise modern HR technology to help unlock talent potential, engage employees and align them with their company’s mission.

unlock talent potential in charity with technology

Charities can use technology to improve the employee experience

Every single business has a unique employee experience. Your company has one, whether you are aware of it or not and whether you are tracking it or not. Depending on your cultural, physical and technological environment, your charitable organisation will either be an inspirational or disengaging place to work.

Every modern organisation wants to create a motivational environment for their employees. We want to create a company that encourages employees to bring their best selves to work and technology is a large part of that equation.

Technology has evolved rapidly over the past few decades. We use it at work and at home, and it serves a number of invaluable functions. And this rapid explosion has seriously impacted employee expectations. We don’t expect to come to our place of work and have to deal with slow, outdated technology. Having to struggle in this area will undoubtedly create a bad employee experience.

Increasingly, organisations are using HR tech as a productivity tool for their employees. Technology is helping employees to do their jobs and keep on top of their workloads. And we don’t just mean digital to-do lists; workplace technology needs to meet the standards we expect from our consumer tech. Applications like Asana or Slack, for example, bring high-quality user experiences to work and become low-friction tools to boost productivity.

By streamlining workplace processes, technology helps employees focus on what is important — actually getting their work done. Less time is wasted on admin and people can prioritise their objectives while developing and honing their skills.

charity technology improving employee experience

Technology gives your employees access to instant feedback

Timely, accurate feedback is necessary in order to do a job well. This is true regardless of your job title and the industry you work in. People need to know what they are doing is right and what they are doing wrong. They need to know where their strengths are and where they could improve. And they need all this information in real-time.

Making people wait for feedback is a bad idea for several reasons:

  1. It shows your employees that they aren’t a priority — you clearly have other, more important, things to do.
  2. Feedback entails reward and recognition. Employees deserve to be given an acknowledgement of their hard work and efforts. A failure to deliver this will result in poor morale and engagement levels.
  3. The longer you delay giving feedback, the more ingrained bad habits become.
  4. You want to give feedback when the work or behaviour you are discussing is fresh in everyone’s minds. It does no good to discuss an event that happened several months ago. By that point, you will have forgotten pertinent information and you and the employee are more likely to disagree on the specifics.

The answer is to provide employees with real-time, in-the-moment feedback. Of course, this is a difficult feat if you’re not making use of HR tech. Managers are busy and, as much as they might want to, it’s not feasible to expect them to leave their office at the drop of a hat to deliver feedback 10 times a day. However, with the use of HR tech such as performance management software, managers can respond to employee concerns and deliver feedback on goal progression in a matter of seconds.

Delivering feedback in a prompt way like this allows employees to course-correct. Employees want to know how they’re doing, and they perform better when their managers are transparent about their strengths and weaknesses — there’s no reason not to give them what they want when technology provides us with all the tools we need.

technology and instant feedback in charity

Technology can track training needs

Both career and personal development are important aspects of the employee experience. Your top performers want to see their skills and strengths develop. They also want a plan in place to ensure this development actually happens. It’s no good to discuss personal development objectives and career plans if what you’re ultimately offering is lip service. Your people will wise up in time, and they will leave you for another company that can help them grow.

HR technology can help in this way. By using technology to draw up plans and expectations, managers, employees and HR can all track training and development. The more visible such information is, the more likely it will remain on everyone’s minds as a priority. It is also the best way to ensure you are helping employees to unlock their own potential.


To be truly effective, HR tech needs to be simple and straightforward

So it’s clear that HR tech can facilitate and streamline work processes while helping to develop and support talent. But, like most tools, there are wise and not-so-wise choices to be made in this area. Not all HR tech is created equal. You need to know what to look for and what to avoid.

The secret to great HR tech is to find a platform that people will want to use. You don’t want your employees to use it simply because they feel obligated — if this is the case, the technology will never become a useful part of your business. Think about all the tech you use in your day-to-day life. It serves a purpose, but it is also enjoyable to use. This is because it is user-friendly. It has a good interface and you didn’t require training to use it.

You should take the same approach to your HR tech. Find a platform that is visually appealing to you — this might sound superficial, but it’s important. You should also look for a platform that is simple and easy to use. Be cautious if you demo a system and find it complicated to use or navigate. The ideal HR platform should require little to no training and it should complement your existing systems and tools.

knowing your technology in the charity sector

Remember that technology is a great tool, but it has limits

The final note to touch on is that technology is a fantastic tool, but it has its limitations. Don’t expect it to be the answer to all your problems. Employees, whether in the charity sector or in the private sector, will always need a good manager to coach them and provide motivation. At its core, HR tech is there to facilitate and enhance human interaction.

Tags: digital landscape, recruitment, technology in charities, training and development

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About the author

Stuart Hearn

Stuart Hearn is a speaker, people management specialist and the CEO & Founder of performance-tech company Clear Review. With 20 years’ HR experience, both as an HR Director at Sony Music and a consultant, he spends his time helping organisations to embed practices that engage, develop and retain their people.