Creating a Staffing Plan
A staffing plan will depend entirely on how the college plans to deliver services. As the institution determines how to deliver services, it must consider how labor intensive the WFS strategy is and whether it requires skilled services. The planning team will need to clearly define the responsibilities and the availability of qualified people internally or externally. Begin by evaluating current staffing levels, noting any existing positions that could be redeployed or those that will see additional work volume from the implementation of WFS.
A staffing plan will need to include job descriptions for all positions— with details about the essential knowledge, skills and abilities required. There are a number of functional roles that must be covered: intake, data-tracking, counseling or coaching, outreach and management. Depending on the range and intensity of services that will be offered, there may be a need for specialists for specific service delivery. A service such as financial coaching requires a significant time commitment and probably requires dedicated staff, while connecting students with financial resources may require less dedicated staff time.
There are a variety of ways to fill those functional roles, and the college may be able to avoid redeploying existing staff or hiring new staff for some aspects of the work. Students who have received services are often willing to volunteer as student liaisons or peer mentors. Similarly, colleges may use students enrolled in work-study programs to serve in some capacity. If there are graduate schools in the area offering counseling degrees, the college may be able to take on as interns some of their students who need work experience. Consider the expertise of the staff of partner organizations—they may cover some functions that don’t need dedicated staff at the college. Any time a college works with outside staff, attention should be paid to issues of confidentiality.
Ongoing Staff Development
While a team responsible for day-to-day implementation of a particular program can make a good start on a staffing plan, there are broader institutional considerations that may require support from the administration. Adding or redeploying positions necessitates discussions about a broader human resources strategy; does the institution have the capacity to recruit, train, retain and sustain the requisite expertise?
Of course, once personnel are hired, the institution should see to their continued development and training. A sustainable, scaled solution requires a professional development program that specifically addresses the needs of the staff, as well as clear processes and sufficient resources to ensure quality delivery and improvement.