Over the last year, our church experienced more than typical staff turnover, so we’ve hired more people than usual. As the Executive Pastor of Operations, I oversee all of the Human Resources for our church. Early on in my time on the church staff, onboarding consisted of ensuring that the new hire filled out the necessary paperwork, and then I would send the new employee off to their supervisor – done. But this recent influx of staff has caused me to realize our onboarding process needs to be sharper and more comprehensive. We want to fully integrate these new employees into our culture and make them feel like valued staff members. That means we must do more than get their W-4, I-9, E-Verify, background check (LiveScan), direct deposit information, emergency contact, etc. We must invest time to help them become productive and impactful in helping the church to accomplish its mission. Since many small to medium-sized churches cannot afford an HR department, here are some tips for onboarding new employees.
If your church struggles with onboarding new employees, you’re not alone. According to Aberdeen Strategy and Research, only 32% of companies deploy a formalized onboarding process. The data also reveals that 54% of companies with an onboarding process find higher productivity and retention rates. So what is onboarding? Onboarding is completing required legal documents, clarifying expectations, integrating them into your church’s culture, and helping them develop relationships with other staff members. By the way, onboarding starts once the employee accepts the official offer. Before the employee’s first day at work, email them what time to arrive, where to park, what to wear, and what to expect on the first day. Have the paperwork ready, their workspace set up – including their computer, their nameplate ready, email access, etc. Make them feel like you are so glad they are there, not like getting them going is a burden.
Build a new hire checklist covering all the legally required documents for a new hire. Because each state has different requirements, and these requirements change often, use this list as a guide only.
- Employee Information Form (include emergency contact)
- I-9 Form (verify the employee’s authorization for employment in the United States.)
- W-4 Form (employee’s federal withholdings)
- State Tax Withholding
- ACA Notice of Exchange (and acknowledgment of receipt)
- Direct Deposit Form
- Background Check
- E-Verify through DHS (where applicable)
- Employee Handbook
- Branding & Culture Guidelines
- Email Address (add to staff group)
- ChMS Account (add to staff group)
- Time Card Software (for hourly employees)
- Software Services
- Keycard & Key
- Name Plate
- Name Badge
- Health Insurance – Full-Time Only
- Credit Card (if applicable)
Remember, this is a general guide; check your local and state requirements to build a complete list of the legal requirements for your new hires.
Every employee needs to know their job expectations, and providing a role description reflects their duties and responsibilities. When crafting the role description, include the job title, purpose, duties, responsibilities, and specific knowledge, skills, or abilities required to perform the role. Take the time to review all of this with the employee to ensure a mutual understanding of the church’s expectations.
Every organization is different – even churches. For example, when I started working at the church, the dress code clearly defined office attire as “Country Club Casual.” It didn’t take long to see that it was not the culture of the church office, and it was changed to reflect the actual culture. Does your church allow remote work? Does everyone eat lunch together? What’s the preferred method of communication – phone call, text, or email? Is there a defined common language to describe things? Take this opportunity to review the church’s mission, vision, values, and history. Go over the employee handbook and specific policies and procedures they should know. Talk about the church’s strategic partnerships and how they impact their role. Helping new employees understand the culture is critical to developing and succeeding in your church. And it doesn’t happen in a day. Continue to talk about and reinforce the church’s culture.
Having been at my church for over 27 years and part of the staff for 17, it can be challenging to remember what it was like to be new and not know everyone. Sometimes new employees don’t know anyone. Take the time to walk them through the office and introduce them to everyone. Begin developing relationships by allowing more than just introductions at the door. Share insights about each person, their role, and something interesting as part of the introductions.
Hiring and integrating new employees takes time and effort. Creating an onboarding process that takes care of the required documents, defines the employee’s role and responsibilities, begins immersion into the church’s culture, and intentionally fosters relationships has a significantly higher probability of success for the new employee and the church. Use these steps and watch your next new hire thrive.short url: