Corporations Find New Way To Improve Health Of Employees By Bringing A Pastor Into The Office

By: Tia Johnson 0 Comments   8/10/2012

Some of us struggle with sharing our faith and helping others in the workplace. A few have made a profession of it.

They're called "corporate chaplains," and their main mission is not to preach, but to build relationships and be available to help a client's employees in time of need.

What's a corporate chaplain?

He's a chaplain hired by a business or corporation to help meet the needs of its employees. As an employee benefits from the one-on-one counsel of a chaplain, the corporation benefits from greater morale and productivity within the workplace.

"...a corporate chaplain wears a lot of different hats," explained Chaplain Nate Schroeder in an interview with CitizenLink. "He is a pastor, but he's also a counselor, a life coach, and a gopher because of so many different things that he can do for the employees and the company."

Schroder began Corporate Care Services, a corporate chaplaincy program in St. Cloud MN, last January. He previously pastored at Discovery Church in St. Cloud MN. Since starting the chaplaincy program, he's made substantial impact in the lives of employees where he's been stationed.

In the interview with CitizenLink, Schroeder shared about a call he received from an employee who was planning a suicide.

"He knew where he was going to do it, when he was going to do it, how he was going to do it... he was serious," Schroeder said. He then arranged to meet this man, and after a few hours, "he realized that things going on in his life may not be that bad where the only option out is to kill himself." Schroeder then directed him to a hospital.

Schroeder is available to help a client's employees with personal issues like suicidal thoughts or a difficult marriage, but he also strives to meet the most urgent up-front needs, like an unreliable vehicle or daycare difficulties.

"You could have an employee who is missing a lot of work and, when you dig down deep enough, you find that person is having trouble finding suitable day care," Schroeder explained to the St. Cloud Times. "I might be able to find a couple of alternatives that not only make that employee more productive, but it gains loyalty from them for the company having someone reach out to them."

According to a report by Corporate Chaplains, Inc., GM and FORD, two companies who have used corporate chaplains, yielded an approximate $9 return for each dollar spent on the program. Additionally, GM reported a 72 percent reduction in accident and sickness disability benefits with chaplaincy use. (CCI is a chaplaincy program in Oklahoma from which Schroeder modeled his program.)

Corporate chaplains have existed for a few decades. According to Wikipedia, approximately 4,000 corporate chaplains operate in the United States. Wikipedia notes research from Marketplace Chaplains USA, which reported that the turnover rate at Taco Bells in Texas dropped by nearly one-third after corporate chaplains were brought in.

A corporate chaplain may be compared to an EAP (Employee Assistance Program), but a corporate chaplain seems to reach more people and is generally less expensive for the corporation.

How does he do it?

Schroeder's goal is to build relationships with people so that when they reach a time of need, they know who to call. He attempts to make contact with each employee once per week at a time when it doesn't interfere with work responsibilities.

"All interaction is voluntary and confidential," wrote Kevin Allenspach of the St. Cloud Times who wrote of Schroeder's position. "The goal is to reduce stress, improve morale, increase loyalty and promote productivity."

Though Schroeder's position is not as "preacher," the demands on his time certainly would be similar to a pastor: he's on call 24-7.

Yet that is where care is confirmed- being available in a time of need, no matter what time that may be. And it appears that the boost in employee care and morale is important enough to corporations these days to make it a priority.

Bill Haycraft, President of Frontier State Bank, offered a comment in CCI's presentation: " would be hard to imagine this company without [chaplaincy] help. I wonder how we got along without that, I just don't know how we could've coped with all the issues this past year without Corporate Care [Inc.]."

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