Corporate chaplains: They walk the shop floor to help workers walk through their struggles

Here’s an all-too-familiar story to which many business owners and managers can relate.

Carl shuffles his way down the hall to the employee break room. The dazed look on his face has been there since he was told that his wife had been diagnosed with an inoperable cancer, and the prognosis was bleak.

How long will Carl last before the strain begins to take its toll? What effect will this have on Carl’s production and quality levels? What are the company’s responsibilities in personnel situations like this?

Business owners and personnel managers agree that one of the most challenging work-related issues they face involves employees who bring personal, non-work related issues with them to the office.

According to several sources, two-thirds of an organization’s workforce suffers from some form of stress, pain, hardship or affliction that will slowly consume them while on the job, affecting their production and potentially impacting the organization’s bottom line.

Help is on the way

So who can employees turn to for help when they spend a third of their lives at work? Enter the corporate chaplain. A corporate chaplain is a highly trained member of the workforce who literally walks the shop floor, engaging with employees, establishing close relationships and serving as an outlet for those staff members who simply need to talk.

The chaplain is there for employees to vent … to discuss their issues in confidence with an impartial individual who brings a compassionate heart and a discerning ear. This “ministry of presence” provides workers with a place to turn when life starts impacting work.

And while the moniker “chaplain” tends to make people think about black-shirted, white-collared preachers roaming the hallways in search of lost souls, today’s corporate chaplains are anything but. They blend in with the rest of the staff, identified only by their name tags, and talk about spirituality only when the subject is brought up by the employee.

Because of that distinction, corporate chaplains have become a valuable resource for such companies as Ford, General Motors, Tyson Foods and Coca-Cola. Researchers at those companies have determined that the return on investment when hiring an outside corporate chaplain is at least $9 for every dollar invested.

That’s because the important relationship-building qualities of chaplaincy services have shown to positively impact organizations on several fronts, namely:

• Decreased absenteeism and “presenteeism” (or showing up to work in body, but not in mind).
• Improved morale and teamwork.
• Increased employee retention
• Increased productivity.
• Instilled feeling of being valued by the organization.|
• Reduced health and disability claims.

Indeed, corporate chaplains can bring solace to the workforce by acting as resource for employees struggling with life’s many issues. But just as important, corporate chaplains can positively impact the organization as a whole by fostering employee-centric work environments which can directly affect the organization’s bottom line.