HR in the Third Sector

Written by Charlotte - 26 Apr 2018 Category: HR news

The private, public and third sectors all have unique features that can make working in HR challenging.

The private, public and third sectors all have unique features that can make working in HR challenging. Although there are similarities that exist between the three divisions - understanding employment law, for example, is a requirement across the board as are communication skills and the ability to work well with anyone - there are some undeniably unique differences that can make working in HR more demanding in comparison to other departments. HR Managers working in the third sector are often referred to as ‘ miracle workers’ because HR is expected to function in the same way as it would in any corporate setting but on an ever decreasing budget.

In this article, we explore the unique features of third sector (non-profit) HR departments and the daily challenges professionals face working in this area.


It might seem counterintuitive to point out engagement as a difficult area in the charity sector. Afterall, one of the top reasons employees choose to work at a non-profit is because the organisation’s values and charitable work is known to them, and aligned with their values and beliefs.

However, a common challenge in the third sector is getting employees away from seeing their job as ‘paid volunteering’ and getting them to engage with the more mundane but equally important side of work, such as admin tasks and budgeting.


Although managing absenteeism is a crucial aspect of any HR role, it has even more importance in the third sector, where costs need to be kept to an absolute minimum.

Absence reporting is one way to help manage staff sickness and keep track of who has been off and when. But absence management reporting is one area where charities particularly struggle. The latest HR technologies include cloud-based leave planning solutions that enable better staff holiday planning and improved absence reporting than that achieved by traditional methods such as spreadsheets saved to a hard drive, which are calculated manually, are not always accessible or up-to-date,  and are prone to human error.


Although the issue of diversity is prevalent across all sectors, it is particularly challenging for charities to build a workforce that it is representative of its beneficiaries. The nonprofit sector is female dominated; around two thirds of employees working in charities and voluntary organisations are women.

To tackle this imbalance, many charities are rethinking their recruitment strategies and benefits packages, such as offering employees things like flexible working and remote working to make a job offer seem more appealing.

Creative Recruitment

With third sector organisations often operating to tight budget restrictions and therefore unable to offer large financial compensation packages or spend much on advertising, recruitment in the third sector needs to be more creative to reach the right people.

Social media is an excellent place for charities to create a brand around the organisation being a great place to work. Promoting the learning and development opportunities on offer can also be a huge draw to potential employees, and strategic attendance at careers fairs or other recruitment events can also be a great way to attract new hires.

Many factors can make HR more challenging in a non-profit environment. As with anything, it seems that some careful planning, creative thinking and investment in technological solutions can go a long way to mitigate these difficulties and create a smoother HR experience for all employees.

Digitalising Workflows with CiviHR

Written by Charlotte - 18 Apr 2018 Category: CiviHR

HR professionals often face having to juggle a significant number of tasks and processes.

HR professionals often face having to juggle a significant number of tasks and processes. This heavy workload, accompanied by the need to adhere to strict policies, procedures and data processing rules, can make it challenging to keep track of different tasks and guarantee their completion.  

This is where digitalising HR activities can hugely benefit organisations. Digital workflows can efficiently create, distribute and track employee acknowledgement, streamline processes and reduce paperwork, mitigating risk and ensuring compliance.

Digitalising Workflows

The term workflow is used to describe the methodological ordering of activities through which a piece of work passes to facilitate its completion.

Making a workflow digital involves incorporating each step of the process into a digital platform.  Since workflows consist of several steps that must be followed to complete a process, it’s important that each action is carefully considered, easy to understand and conducive to finishing the task. Writing out each step on paper first to work out its positioning, test the activity flow and deem whether each one is necessary, is an effective way of testing out workflows before they are entered into the system.

Not sure where to start?

With CiviHR, you can create custom workflows to accommodate different processes unique to your organisation.

As a default, the system comes with three standard workflows, which can be configured to incorporate activities unique to your organisation. There’s also the option to disable them and create new workflows with different activities included.

Standard Workflows


There are many activities involved when onboarding new employees. As HR use the same steps to welcome a new joiner to the organisation, it makes sense to turn the onboarding process into a digital workflow so that HR can monitor the completion of activities and ensure a consistent introduction with all the basics covered for all new starters.

The CiviHR workflow includes activities such as issuing an employment letter, submission of ID, and participation in group induction and orientation programmes. All of these activities can be added to or deleted to match the onboarding process of each organisation.


As with onboarding, there is also a strict workflow to follow when an employee leaves an organisation. CiviHR’s Exiting workflow allows you to schedule the exit interview, set reminders to revoke access to databases and block the work email ID.


Streamline application processes using CiviHR, and help to ensure all vacancies are filled successfully with an integrated application workflow. Keep track of where candidates are in the hiring process and check all follow up has been completed.


HR departments that embrace workflow automation ensure better employee experience, increased HR productivity and improved standardisation. Thanks to its integrated workflow module, managing HR workflows through CiviHR is simple. Administrators can create step-by-step processes to facilitate the completion of different tasks. And, because the system is cloud-based, employees can access it anywhere and at any time, making it easy for staff to view assigned tasks and complete them.

Getting Started with Self Service Technology

Written by Charlotte - 11 Apr 2018 Category: HR software

Self-service portals, once the preserve of large organisations with big budgets, are now available to smaller businesses and non-profits thanks to the development of cloud software and open source solutions like CiviHR.

Self-service portals, once the preserve of large organisations with big budgets, are now available to smaller businesses and non-profits thanks to the development of cloud software and open source solutions like CiviHR.

What are the benefits?

The most obvious advantage to using a self-service portal is that it allows employees to manage their information from day one. This approach reduces the HR admin load and ensures employee details are kept up to date. It also allows employees to quickly request leave and fulfil HR obligations such as uploading documents to the system.

And why is technology so important?

The CIPD views workforce technology as driving new forms of employment relationship and fundamentally changing the way organisations operate. But as with all organisational change, implementing new technology requires an agile approach. And a self-service portal is only beneficial if employees log in and use it.

Implementing a self service portal

To get the most from your new system, here are three tips for encouraging employees to adopt the self-service portal:

1. Manage change properly

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Employee involvement is key in change management, so get them on board. Ask your staff their opinion on the system and how they would want to see it used. Allocate enough time for each team to practice using the system so that they are familiar with how it works before they have to use it for real.

2. Make it easy

Store all the information regarding the system and its usage policy is in one accessible place. It might be useful to create some fun exercises to encourage engagement with the system, like running a competition: the first three people to submit a leave request using the portal receive a prize! It also helps if you choose an accessible system that can be used on multiple devices so staff can log in from their mobile at home.

3. Provide proper training and support

Employees need to feel confident using the system and know that they can ask for help if needed. It’s a good idea to nominate one member of staff as the system administrator, so they can be on hand to answer any questions and boost employee engagement with the system.

Get Started Today

It’s time for organisations  to take advantage of technology that empowers both employees and HR departments.  With CiviHR’s self-service technology,  your employees have instant, online access to their key HR details. They can apply for leave, record sickness, read policy documents, look up colleague’s contact details in the directory, and view any tasks assigned to them, such as requirements to bring in a copy of their passport or attend an appraisal.

If you want to see the CiviHR self-service portal in action, why not test it out on our demo site? Select the civihr_staff login name to see how the portal would appear to employees and the options available for managing your HR data.

About CiviHR

CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.


CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere. 

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