Practical Strategies for Church Leaders For A Better Staff Onboarding Process
In last week’s post we examined the three elements that every new employee wants to see included in their onboarding experience. In this article we provide a series of practical steps to ensure the process is comprehensive and effective.
In Gallup’s experience, the following strategies can help supervisors/managers create a holistic onboarding experience that includes the people, learning and process elements that a new employee desires that we wrote about in our last post.
Seven Practical Strategies For A Better Onboarding Experience For The New Employee
- Provide a variety of ways to build personal connections. This may take a bit more creativity than simply depending on casual coffee pot and water cooler moments for relationship-building. Like, consider scheduling staff wide coffee or snack break chats, prayer times, and brown bag lunch share times, intentionally pairing new hires with colleagues they don’t typically work with.
- Encourage long time employees to reach out to new hires. A brief, genuine encounter with the pastor, a tenured staff member, a church leader, a ministry or department head can leave a lasting impression on a new hire. For example, encouraging and reminding staff to ask a new hire, “How was your first day/week/month?” not only is welcoming, but it also encourages new hires to ask questions and seek advice from their colleagues.
- Prioritize the learning experience. A new hire is eager to learn about their job, the church, and the community, so learning experiences need to offer far more than job-specific training. Exceptional onboarding processes explain the history of the church, key aspects of the community, as well as the role the person is serving in. More importantly, the onboarding process should include how the new hire’s work contributes to the greater mission, vision and strategies of the church. When new employees understand why and how their job fits into the bigger picture, they contribute faster and with more impact.
- Add experiences that demonstrate your culture. Onboarding should allow new hires to see, feel, and experience your church and staff culture. This requires both sharing anecdotes and stories as well as offering firsthand experiences. For example, your onboarding process might highlight examples of how specific staff members live out and embody your church or staff values. Or, if the church culture emphasizes the guest and new member processes, your onboarding strategy might include allowing the new hire to experience your Hospitality and New Member processes.
- Provide a welcome care basket. A “care basket” with practical gifts, gift cards and especially handwritten notes from staff and lay leaders can speak volumes to new hires, making them feel acknowledged, valued and assured that they made the right decision.
- Establish a formal mentorship. Church leaders should pair new hires with a trusted and experienced mentor who can answer their questions and help them learn and grow. Trust and learning develop rapidly when supervisors/managers go the extra mile to mentor and invest in their newest staff members.
- Supervisors/managers have an active role. Supervisors/managers must be present, involved and available throughout new hires’ onboarding experience, checking in on progress and seeing that no steps are missed. Supervisors/managers should become coaches who immerse new hires in the culture, connecting them with the right people, the right resources, the right experiences, and providing the support and mentoring they need in their early days on the job.
It takes a great deal of time, effort, money and resources to attract great talent to your church staff, so it makes sense then to spend equal time, energy and resources to onboard new hires.
Posted on February 1, 2022