Companies continue to realize how important talent acquisition and retention are to organizational success. Based on that understanding, many employers are intensifying their investment in the holistic care of that talent. Employee assistance programs (EAPs), wellness programs, paid time off, family and personal leave, benefits flexibility, healthcare, and 401(k) plans are just a few examples of that care.
By definition, holistic care also includes the spiritual or religious element. Therefore, we are now seeing increasing numbers of companies integrating chaplaincy care into their suite of benefits. Mark Oppenheimer writes in Bloomberg Businessweek on this topic in his article, The Rise of the Corporate Chaplain (8/23/12, pp. 5861):
In a country where, according to Gallup, more than 90 percent of people say they believe in God, bringing ones whole self to work means bringing religion, too. (p. 60)
Yes, I hear the outcryDont impose your religious beliefs upon me! I fully understand that concern. Nevertheless, corporate diversity policies embrace and respect the right of everyone to be different. A chaplaincy ministry in the workplace would be available for those who choose it, and it can be ignored by those who are not interested.
Onsite chaplains turn out to be helpful partners to HR and other leaders in the organization. By the very nature of their services, they maintain a pulse check on employee morale and concerns. Oppenheimer explains:
Employers like the regular reports chaplains provide, which can reveal the level of employees concerns about everything from salaries and overtime to troubles at home. (p. 60)
Companies love it when employees use their EAPs because of the obvious help they provide with so many different problems. Corporate chaplaincy programs offer a more inviting option. According to an ongoing study by David Miller and Faith Ngunjiri (Princeton Universitys Faith & Work Initiative), 50% or more of employees have visited a workplace chaplain, a percentage significantly larger than employees who have tapped into an EAP. As Oppenheimer summarizes:
Employers have found that a pastoral touch is often more appealing to workers than an impersonal hotline of the sort included in many benefits packages. (p. 60)
Although one could argue the employer-employee relationship is purely an agreement to exchange specific manual and intellectual services for cash and cash equivalents, I see the picture differently. Indeed, that agreement is established. Beyond that however, I see the more progressive companies recognizing the validity and the efficacy of the holistic approach to employee relationships.
Smart companies always think of the big picture. And in the big picture, the more effectively companies provide for their employees, the more effective those employees will be. It becomes a win-win situation. And no one can argue with that.
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