Churches are unique places to work because the “shop is open” at times when most people are resting from their work week. Weekend services, mid-week church meetings, small groups and special events all take their toll on church employees and can lead to ministry burnout.
And let’s be real, working every weekend can be difficult.
This dynamic creates a unique challenge for church leadership, to ensure that employees fulfill their job duties but also that they don’t get burned out in the process.
According to the Families and Work Institute (FWI), American workers feel overworked and employers that provide effective workplaces help minimize this effect.
A study done by the Families and Work Institute suggest that employers should be creating work environments that support employees and helps them manage the many conflicting issues and pressures in their lives.
An effective workplace is one that:
- Provides employees the opportunity to continue to learn.
- Has a culture of trust.
- Gives employees the flexibility needed to manage work, personal and family life.
- Provides employees the feeling of being supported by their supervisor to succeed at work.
- There is autonomy and independent thinking.
- Employees are satisfied with pay, benefits and opportunities for advancement.
It is also recommended that employers look at the employee as a whole and recognize them for what they do outside the workplace.
It has been found that employees who have a good work-life balance are actually more successful at work.
Things are changing rapidly and with increased pressure to get things done quicker churches need to think about the employees’ ability to respond to the fast pace and rethink how work gets accomplished.
Church employees need periods of “recovery” to refocus, regroup and recharge after completing large projects and before planning the next big church event.
Employees who do not have the opportunity to get recharged can become overwhelmed and can exhibit feelings of being overworked. Work-groups should focus on achieving church goals and objectives and should constantly be looking for more efficient ways of getting work done.
5 Things Churches Can Do to Help Employees Avoid Burnout
1. Provide Uninterrupted Work Time
Church leadership should set aside periods of time during the day when employees can focus on tasks without interruption. This uninterrupted work time helps employees focus on accomplishing work responsibilities.
For example, limit times of the day when group meetings take place to allow for individual desk work time.
2. Establish Realistic Deadlines
It is important to hold employees accountable for job responsibilities without pressuring them unnecessarily.
For example, a strategy I have used is to allow the employee to help set their own work deadlines.
I merely ask them what a reasonable time-frame would be for completing a task and then hold them accountable to that time. This takes away their argument of unrealistic expectations and timelines.
3. Eliminate Low Value Work
Church leadership should constantly be looking at what employees do and help to eliminate unnecessary tasks. Employees are often given a task to do and years later they continue performing the same task even though it no longer adds value.
4. Set Accessibility Parameters
We all know there are times after work-hours that emergencies happen and employees need to be contacted. Setting very specific parameters and boundaries for contacting employees after work hours can help minimize excessive contact that limits rest away from work.
5. Discourage Working Vacations
We all appreciate vacations and occasionally have experienced times when work issues interrupt a much needed break. Setting boundaries for being interrupted on vacation is important and should be driven from the top of the organization.
For example, require employees to turn their phones off and not check email while on paid time off.
The whole purpose of time away from work is to refresh and recharge so contacting employees while they are on vacation should only happen in the event of a true emergency.
As employers we understand the importance and value of our employees. Creating a balanced work environment for them is a win-win, because a rested, focused and balanced work force, not only helps the employee, but ultimately helps the church fulfill its mission.
What does your church do to help employees avoid burnout?