Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Managing church employees is every bit as challenging as managing people in any other setting.
A structured employee hiring process can ensure a good hire!
A church is only as strong as the people who do the work, and weak employees can affect the experience of church customers – members, volunteers, and employees.
Having a strong church staff requires:
“Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, the right people in the right seats and then figure out where to drive.” Jim Collins – Good to Great
Getting the right people on the bus involves a great recruitment strategy that includes screening, interviewing, orientation, and training.
Each step of the hiring process can significantly affect the job candidate experience, so structure and consistency are essential.
There should be focused strategy to recruit the best and brightest for the ministry.
Recruiting a church employee can be a challenge because of the political aspect of hiring someone from within the congregation.
There needs to be a structured recruitment and screening process coupled with excellent communication to avoid the inevitable offense when members apply to work for their church and don’t get hired.
Good communication coupled with a great interview process is the best way to guard against this.
The Human Resource (HR) Council should set guidelines for how recruitment will be managed and answer the question:
- Does the church try to hire from within the congregation or use outside resources to identify the right person for the job? There are different schools of thought on whether to hire from within the church body. Have your leadership group discuss each option and determine the best approach for the needs of your church.
It is essential to have a structured and streamlined process to ensure new employees are screened for the best fit.
It is far better to delay a hiring decision than to hire the wrong person – no matter how desperate the need is to fill the position!
Communicate Regularly With Job Candidates
Streamline the hiring process with a structured communication process for job applicants.
Job applicants should be considered a church customer group and should be given the courtesy of consistent and clear communication.
Anticipating the kind of information a job applicant might need and building a process around that is the best approach.
For example, when someone applies for a job, there should be an acknowledgment letter sent immediately to let the applicant know that the application was received.
Communication should be made with the applicant at 3 critical steps in the process:
- When their application is received;
- When an interview is scheduled;
- When the position the applicant applied for is filled – whether they got the job or not.
It is common courtesy to let applicants know that they are no longer in the running for the job. This courtesy call will also help to eliminate follow-up phone calls.
Part of the communication should be setting the expectations for when the applicant might hear back.
For instance, if it is common for applications to be reviewed by several people before an interview is scheduled. Often, that process can take weeks or even months. Let the applicant know what the schedule is so that they have a realistic expectation for when they might hear about the job.
And if things change, and the process is expected to take a little longer, another courtesy communication should be made to the applicant.
You should always err on the side of too much communication.
Just think about what kind of information you would appreciate if you were the applicant – and act on it.
When employees are new to an organization, they need to go through an orientation process.
New employee orientation is typically done by the person who has responsibility for the HR function.
Smaller organizations (that don’t hire people daily) don’t typically have systems and processes to ensure a smooth orientation process.
A simple solution is to create a new employee orientation checklist used in the first days or weeks of a new employee being on the job.
How To Create A New Employee Checklist?
To create a new employee orientation checklist, gather a group of employees and ask them what information was vital for you to know when you were first hired.
The new employee orientation check sheet is a shared responsibility of the HR assistant and the hiring manager.
What Should I Include In a New Employee Checklist?
Review of Policies
- Employee policies: Employee policies help a new hire understand what to expect in the new work environment and the dos and don’ts of the organization. For instance, if your church has an attendance policy, employees should be made aware of expectations for showing up to work.
- Office hours: A lot has changed since the COVID Pandemic. Help employees understand expectations for working at home and showing up to the office.
- Employee benefits: Benefits are an important reason employees choose an employer. Review employee benefits so new hires understand how to access those benefits.
- Vacation request process: Vacations are essential for all employees. Review the process to request and approve vacation or paid time off.
- Who to call when sick: We have all become aware that sometimes an unexpected illness is beyond our control. Help employees by explaining who to call and when to communicate that they are too ill to come to work.
- Office/campus tour: Be aware that a new employee does not know where to find coffee, where to eat lunch, etc. Provide a detailed tour so they can familiarize themselves with the campus.
- How to use the phone system: Phone systems can be complicated technology. Don’t assume someone knows how to work a new landline. Take the time to review the system and show employees how to record and retrieve voicemails.
- Lunchroom: An office lunchroom is often a social place for employees. Provide a tour of the lunchroom and share expectations for keeping this shared space tidy.
- Where to find office supplies: We all need supplies to do our job, so whether it is the custodian, secretary, or Assistant Pastor, make sure they know where to find the supplies they need.
- Where to pick up mail: Most offices have employee mailboxes. Show new hires where their mailbox is and when they can expect daily mail distribution.
- Keys to facility: Not all employees will need keys to the buildings. But for those who are responsible for unlocking or locking the buildings, make sure they have keys and access codes to those buildings.
- How to operate office machines: Office machines help us do our jobs. Take the time to show new employees where office machines are, how to operate and troubleshoot those machines, and who to call if the machines are not working properly.
- How to log in to the computer: Every office has security protocols to protect its network of computers. Have your IT person show new hires how to log in, change their password, and set expectations for securing sensitive church data.
- Any pertinent passwords: Churches operate with many software programs. Make sure those who use those programs have password access. For instance, the accounting team may have access to the accounting software, while the communications team may have access to the website platform.
- When is payday: Tell employees the payroll schedule. When the pay period starts, when it ends, if they are paid monthly, semi-monthly, or weekly. Also, provide them with the appropriate documents for direct deposit payments.
- How are hours tracked and recorded: Provide employees with information about how hours worked are tracked. If your office has an electronic time clock, show the employees how to use it and provide their employee number for access.
- Health insurance: Explain your health insurance benefits. Make new hires aware of premiums costs, and how often those premiums will be deducted from their paycheck.
- Retirement contribution: Many churches offer retirement benefits. Explain those benefits, what (if any) the matching program is, and how to participate.
- Organizational chart: Hopefully, your church has an organizational chart that shows how employees are organized. A visual of that organization helps employees understand who has responsibility for what areas of ministry.
- Confidentiality: Churches deal with a lot of confidential information. Explain the church’s expectation to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information.
- Staff meeting schedule: Help get the new employee off to a good start by providing them with the schedule for weekly or monthly staff meetings. Give them a heads-up about where the meetings are held and what to expect from those employee gatherings.
- Voicemail Etiquette: The way we answer the phone communicates a lot about our culture and how we prioritize communicating with others. Share service standards with employees and explain expectations for how the phone is answered and how soon phone calls are returned.
- Email etiquette: Emails are a tool for communicating. Help employees understand expectations for professional and timely email responses.
- Overtime: Explain to the new employee how they are classified – hourly or salaried – how overtime is tracked, and the approval process for unscheduled overtime hours.
- Lunch/break times: Explain what time lunch break begins and ends and if there is flexibility in starting and ending times. If employees are hourly, show them how to clock out and back in after a lunch break. If you offer morning and afternoon breaks, tell employees how to take those breaks.
- What are the social norms of the organization: Every organization has a culture (how we do things around here). Help employees become familiar with cultural norms by setting expectations. For example, explain if employees are expected to hang out together at lunch or if it is okay to leave campus at lunchtime.
- Service expectations: Talk to new employees about the importance of caring for church customers – members, volunteers, and other employees. Review customer service standards to explain expectations.
- Department chain-of-command: Explain the department chain of command and who to go to with issues, concerns, or questions about the job.
- Performance management process: Inform employees of the process to assess their work and job performance. Explain the performance appraisal and raise distribution process.
- Employee job description: Provide employees with a job description that explains job responsibilities and job goals.
- Employee goals: Meet with the new employee and create some goals that support the overall goals and strategy of the church.
- Team expectations: Church staff are a team of people working toward a common goal. Share expectations for teamwork amongst staff.
- Employee mentor: Assign a mentor to every new hire. A mentor can explain the culture (how we do things around here) and answer questions about getting the job done.
- Meet coworkers: Welcome new employees to the team by introducing them to coworkers and department heads.
Who Should Administer This Checklist
This checklist should be completed and signed within seven days of the hire date and maintained in the department and employee file.
The human resource management function has many of the same legal requirements as other organizations and should have a designated person with responsibility and goals assigned to these job tasks.
The Society for Human Resources is a great organization that offers resources and training for this critical role.
Many of the forms and documents referred to in the article are part of our growing library of forms, documents, and job descriptions. You can learn more about accessing our library here.