With a new year comes new challenges. Now we don’t mean that to scare you - we just say that to prepare you. And really, as long as you’re prepared, you have nothing to worry about.
So what are the major challenges facing association professionals in 2017? Here are three, and more importantly, solutions for each:
The challenge: Hiring and retaining top-notch staff
Hiring the right people for your company or organization is becoming increasingly difficult. Why? Well for some industries, the talent pool is small to begin with. But regardless of how much talent is out there, the issue is how much competition there is for that talent. Companies are bumping up their salaries and benefits to acquire top talent, and that can make it difficult for other organizations to compete.
First, even if you’re a nonprofit, you can still bump up your organization’s benefits to compete with other companies. Now these may not be your standard benefits (e.g. health insurance, a 401K plan, etc.), but they’re still perks (and to an extent, that’s another type of benefit). Consider offering flexible work hours, more (or unlimited) vacation days (as long as the work gets done), the ability to work from home, etc. Little things like this really add up when people are weighing job options.
Second, once you have hired new staff, be sure (be sure!) to onboard them. If employees don’t know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, they’re bound to leave, and that puts your organization right back at square one. For tips on how to onboard new hires, check out our guide, Best Practices for Onboarding New Staff.
The challenge: Maintaining a high level of cyber security
Hackers are becoming more and more prominent. Even companies and organizations with the best cyber security out there (ahem, the U.S. government) are getting hacked. So how can you keep your organization’s data safe in 2017?
There is no perfect solution to this one, but having some sort of cloud-based technology system in place protecting your data is your organization’s best bet. Now you might be thinking, in some ways, wouldn’t it be better to house that data in an Excel spreadsheet rather than in a system that could potentially be hacked? Well the short answer, no. Aside from that being a major headache, that document could still get hacked or your computer could potentially be stolen. Plus, by housing that data in a secure, cloud-based system, you’re then taking the burden of security off of you - and isn’t that one less burden you’d like to have?
The challenge: Keeping up with increasingly high technology standards
Technology is constantly changing, and even if it’s not changing at your organization, it’s changing everywhere else, meaning your members are engaging with other advanced platforms. Associations Now wrote an interesting article about this a few weeks ago. Basically, when your members interact with sites that are unbelievably user-friendly and seamless (think Amazon and their “one click to purchase” feature), they’re then going to hold your organization to a similarly high standard. How do you compete?!
We can’t all have websites and systems in place like Amazon, but we can have technology on our side. For example, association management systems. They house everything you need to manage your organization and make processes not only easier for you, but for your members as well. For example, when members go to register for an event or renew their membership altogether, an AMS will pull their member data and pre-populate form fields, meaning less information for them to fill out. The more seamless the process is for them, the more likely they are to return as a happy member/customer. (More on how an AMS can streamline processes here.)
Don’t worry association professionals. There may be challenges out there, but you’re equipped to face them. It might just take a little time and tweaking.
Want more tips for managing your organization in 2017? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management below. It’s filled with best practices for membership recruitment, onboarding, engagement, retention, and more! (And bonus: It’s free!)