Today we live in a Post Christian society even though 65% of Americans profess to be of the Christian faith.  Back during the Industrial Revolution and even into the 1960’s it was commonplace for chaplains/ministers to provide advice and counsel to employees at the worksite.  It was, in effect, the earliest form of an Employee Assistance Program.  However, since then almost every organization has abandoned corporate chaplaincy programs, in favor of EAP programs, which have a broader offering of services and should not be offensive to people who have other or no religious beliefs at all.

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Despite living in the most prosperous time in history, with more free time, conveniences and technology than at any other time, suicides are at their highest rate since WWII, the family breakdown continues with loneliness and depression at epidemic proportions.  Simply said, many people today are broken and hopeless.

It is with this backdrop that corporate chaplaincy programs have begun to return to the workplace.  These programs do not replace corporate EAP programs, but supplement them.  Chaplin’s are not on the worksite to convert employees to the Christian faith.  Rather, they are there to just talk to people, meeting them where they are, with whatever problems they may have.  Advantages of utilizing a corporate chaplaincy program include:

  1. They actually visit the workplace on a regular basis and get to know employees.
  2. They build relationships of trust with employees.
  3. Employees will likely share with these chaplains more easily than they might with the EAP representative by phone.
  4. There is no limit on the number of free counseling sessions an employee can have with corporate chaplaincy programs.  Chaplains will counsel with an employee as much as necessary to try and resolve the issue facing the employee.
  5. Corporate chaplains are not experts in all areas and will refer employees to other professions when they recognize the issue is beyond their ability.

I personally like the corporate chaplaincy program.  Most chaplains that I know are very caring people, who empathize well with others and are sensitive to their circumstances.  My one caution is that just like finding the right employees for your organization, you need to find the chaplain that will best fit within your particular organization.  While corporate chaplaincy programs won’t solve all of the world’s problems, they certainly will solve some.  Having such a program will also show employees you care about them and is bound to generate loyalty and good will. 

As always, Kelly and I appreciate you listening to Survive HR!  Please feel free to reach out to us if we can serve you in any way!

All the best,

Steve

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Steve Nail, JD, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, RCC
Steve Nail is currently the Dean, College of Business, at Anderson University. He is a labor and employment attorney who began his career with the National Labor Relations Board. Thereafter, he served as Assistant General Counsel for Michelin, including two stints in France, where he worked on the structuring of the European Economic Community and served in the HR and Legal Departments. Later he served as the Vice President of Labor and Employee Relations before moving on to Hubbell where he served as the Vice President of Human Resources. Steve was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve on the SC Healthcare Planning Committee and was reappointed by Governor McMaster in 2018. Steve was named the 2012 South Carolina HR Professional of the Year and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, by the Greenville SHRM chapter. He is a frequent speaker, a published author, and mentor to many in the HR profession. He often coaches individuals and consults organizations on strategic matters. He is a Register Corporate Coach, certified by the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches and holds SPHR and SHRM-SCP certifications.