Establishing church employee salaries is time well spent because men and women who are employed by churches are working for the greater-good!
People work for churches because they feel a calling and have a passion for the ministry.
However there is an unspoken expectation that church employees will be compensated fairly.
There is an almost laughable misconception that “church” employees only work on Sunday and sit around the rest of the week reading their bible and praying.
When I left a corporate job to go to work for my church I had someone ask me, “so I guess you want a job with less stress?”
Anyone who has ever worked for a church would take offense to such a comment because we all know that managing a church operation, with mostly volunteer support, can be anything but stress-free!
For churches to be able to fulfill their mission, there needs to be qualified staff with a strong work ethic. Recruiting and retaining high-level employees requires a compensation package that is competitive in the local market.
So how do you determine employee salaries for a church?
6 Tips For Establishing Church Employee Salaries
1. Create A Compensation Strategy
As with any other area of the ministry, strategy is how you move the ball from point A to point B.
Without a strategy, there is no plan, and without a plan progression is stagnant
2. Conduct Salary Surveys
I don’t even know how often I have been asked how much to pay for this position or that position. The only way to know for sure is to do a little research.
Salaries vary by location, church size, and job responsibilities.
Take the time to research the jobs in your organization so you are better informed on what the “going rate” is.
The last thing you want to do is underpay someone who should be earning more. But more importantly, overpaying someone can cost the ministry massive amounts of money over the lifetime of an employee’s tenure.
Responsible church stewardship calls for a balance. Pay fairly, but don’t overpay.
3. Create Pay Ranges
Pay ranges provide a guide for hiring as well as salary increases. Use the information you gathered doing a salary survey and create pay ranges.
To do this, determine what the minimum pay, mid-range, and maximum pay will be for any given job.
This is typically a significant range. The goal is to hire employees low and be able to increase their pay without maxing them out and ultimately overpaying them.
4. Create A Structured Performance Appraisal Process
Churches are notorious for hiring from within the membership – which is OK if those that are hired can help move the needle closer to fulfilling the mission. The problem is often they can’t.
I’ve worked with some highly educated people in the church who made things happen. And, I’ve worked with people who did the minimum to get by and simply collected a paycheck.
The only way to gauge the difference is to create a structured process to assess how well an employee is contributing. Specifically, measuring if they are doing what their job description says and if they are completing their annual goals.
Part of the process is creating a performance appraisal form and a structured timeline for doing assessments and awarding pay increases to employees who are doing a good job.
5. Commit to Unbiased Pay
There is a lot in the news about pay equity and the fight for gender pay equality. In fact, there is a law on the books that not many people even speak of – The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
This law makes it illegal to discriminate in pay practices.
I actually heard someone say (referring to a female employee) “well they have a husband so they don’t need as much pay…”
This mindset is archaic, and oh by the way illegal.
Pay for performance and your church will benefit and your employees will be motivated to do more.
6. Commit To An Annual Review
Once you have your strategy, pay grades, and processes complete, make sure you commit to conducting an annual review.
Look at your pay ranges and adjust them to keep them current. One way to do this is by increasing the ranges according to COLA annual increases.
Every couple of years do a similar salary survey to make sure you are keeping up with current pay trends.
Church members fund the church, volunteers are the labor, and church employees facilitate the process. These devoted staff members sacrifice their weekends, many evenings, and countless hours to get the job done. Show your appreciation for their commitment and hard work by taking the time to establish a competitive pay package.