Caring for Employees Matters
I was once asked to describe what I did without disclosing my job title. I did not have to give it much thought and responded quickly, “I care for our employees.”
I care for our employees.
It sounded simple, but I knew that as an HR professional the stewardship of employees is my primary responsibility. In fact, it is a God-given responsibility. Understanding it as a higher call makes a difference in how I approach my life, work, and relationships.
Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something or someone entrusted to one’s care. As Christians, we need to acknowledge that everything belongs to the Lord. “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)
Whatever God has given us, it belongs to him. A faithful steward takes special care of what God has entrusted to him or her.
We learn a valuable lesson about stewardship from the parable in Matthew 25. In the parable, there are three stewards who were given an allotment of money by the owner. Later, the owner returns to see how they managed the money. The first two stewards doubled the money, and the owner was pleased and put them in charge of many things. The third steward did nothing with the money and just returned it to the owner. The owner was angry at his disregard for the management of what he entrusted him with. A faithful steward must build up and increase what God has given him or her.
Entrusted with Staff Development
Since the Lord has entrusted us with our staff, how do we build them up and make them more productive and effective in what he has called them to do? How do we, in turn, develop them to be good and faithful stewards?
When we prioritize the growth and development of our staff, they are able to better serve and become more engaged in our culture and mission. This shows that we are willing to invest in them, and that is something our staff will reciprocate – increased loyalty and better performance. Our desire is to have all of our staff doing their work with all of their heart as working for the Lord (Col. 3:23).
One of the top reasons employees stay is growth and development.
One of the top reasons employees stay is growth and development. At Joni and Friends, we have established a program for professional development through our own internal training in various disciplines, online courses, and supplemental external sources. We realize that not only is it vital for our staff to grow in their skills and abilities, but also that they grow spiritually. To uphold the Lead Like Jesus culture, we have also increased our efforts in training, mentorship, and activities that enhance spiritual formation.
Know Your Staff
As we face more challenges in 2023, emotional and mental health continue to be a priority. The well-being of staff and their stewardship has never been so important.
To steward well in an ever-changing environment, we must know our staff and understand their true needs and desires. We value feedback from our staff and initiate surveys and focus groups to evaluate our onboarding program, staff events, hybrid work schedule, trainings, benefits, and other elements.
We have participated in the Best Christian Workplaces survey every year for the past 17 years. The results are invaluable, revealing our strengths, but also areas of improvement. When we are able to make changes based on employee input, we gain the trust of our staff. It shows them we care, and desire to create a better work environment and culture where they can thrive.
When we look to Jesus, as the best model of stewardship, we see that he knew his disciples, and they knew him. He taught, encouraged, corrected, and protected them. As we manage our staff, we ought to do the same.
Communication and Trust
To build this kind of stewardship there must be effective communication and trust in the relationship between a supervisor and his or her employee.
We introduce the concept of everyday coaching with our leaders and implement a performance management process where communication on development, expectations, and goals take place throughout the year and not just once or twice. Weekly meetings are encouraged for managers and their direct reports to provide clarity, but also to build a good working relationship.
A faithful steward knows his or her flock (Prov. 27:23), and truly cares for them just as Jesus did with his disciples.
God has entrusted us with the care of his people. I consider it a privilege that I have been called to serve our employees who are loved by God. What is more precious in the Father’s eyes than the people for whom he gave his Son to die? This thought changes my perspective.
Working in HR can be challenging, but it will be well worth it when we hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Evalerie L’Heureux is the Vice President of Human Resources at Joni and Friends. She is committed to stewarding staff well and is passionate about serving those in need, especially people living with disabilities. She is also a member of the Christian Leadership Alliance Advisory Council.