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How to: Keep Your Church Staff Happy

tcarringer August 5, 2011

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Happiness is a funny thing. Especially once you set scientists out to study it.

One thing that’s for sure? People who go to church regularly are happier (no surprises there). Those who attend services seldom or never are the least likely to say they are very happy.

We think a lot about happiness – or I do, anyway – when it comes to home life. Happiness is often measured in terms of spiritual life and family life. But what about at work—and what if you work for a church?

Just because there’s a shared mission in a church workplace doesn’t necessarily mean people are happy with their work. It takes effort to keep church staff engaged and satisfied.

We decided to research some strategies for keeping your church staff happy. Here are a few ideas that rose to the top:

  • Control gossip.

There’s strong Biblical basis for this one—take your pick of verse. We like Proverbs 12:13:

“An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble.”

There’s nothing helpful about a workplace environment where gossip flourishes. Make sure everyone knows that gossip is not acceptable. Encourage your staff to try the test of three. If you want to talk about someone who’s not present, ask three questions:

  1. Is it kind?
  2. Is it true?
  3. Is it necessary?
  • Be flexible.

Think about what kinds of workplace flexibility might make life easier for your staff. It may be something as simple as letting some staffers come in later during the summer, when their kids are home from school. It might be letting some folks work from home from time to time—or even regularly.

  • Keep people engaged in decisions

Don’t just ask for ideas from staff. Use their ideas.

  • Give staff ongoing training opportunities.

Russ Fortier, an implementation specialist at ACS Technologies, talked to me not long ago about one of his frustrations with the way some churches allocate their budgets.  “There’s all this money allocated to training pastors, but staff sometimes get left behind,” he said.

Russ also pointed out that intensive training isn’t always necessary (though of course we have great software training options if that’s what you need). Maybe what would really help your church admin is an Excel course at the local college. Or maybe there’s an affordable communication seminar you could send the finance director to. There are many options, and chances are, if you ask your staff, they might be aware of courses they’d like to take, webinars they’d like to sign up for, and fortunately, many are available for free.

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