Why on earth do churches need HR? So you are a church leader. You’ve been called and appointed, you’ve got some experience, you’ve done your studies. Surely that’s all the training you need, isn’t it?
Well, if you’ve ever worked with people, you will realise that whilst they are an invaluable addition to enable the day-to-day working of a church, issues or problems can also arise.
Maybe someone isn’t performing, maybe there has been a complaint about an employee’s conduct or maybe the church needs to find ways to save money and make some redundancies.
It’s during these difficult times that church leaders and leadership teams have to try and work through the issues on top of everything else they have to do, and it can be difficult to do so on their own.
How can HR advice help?
As part of your ministerial training, you may have spent a little time learning about managing people (both paid and volunteers). However, often this is not always a key part of church leadership training, which is such a shame, given how critical it is to the success of not just the daily management of a church but also to building and growing your church.
We are called to be good stewards in all that we do and there is no reason why we would exclude effectively managing our people, those who are paid and unpaid.
Having someone you can rely on and trust who is not only a trained Human Resources professional in managing people issues but also a Christian can be invaluable to help support and navigate you through situations with sensitivity and integrity.
Maybe you are new to church leadership and haven’t yet encountered any problems?
Or maybe you may have experienced some of these situations:
- A team member who falls sick for a prolonged period of time and even though you have a sick pay scheme, you don’t want to decrease their pay and are not sure what to do?
- A team member who isn’t performing as well as hoped but you aren’t sure how to tackle it?
- You employed someone to perform one role but the requirements of your church have now changed and you now need them to do something different or something extra?
- Or maybe you actually need to make a role redundant?
All of these situations and many others can be managed effectively, but can take up a huge amount of time and energy from church leadership, diverting you from your core role of spending time with God and leading His church.
In a church setting, we know how important relationships are and even when the right decision is to part company with someone, you’ll want to ensure where possible that the relationship doesn’t break down because of it.
As charitable organisations, churches are required to be well governed.
Many of you will be aware that churches need to ensure that money is spent wisely and delivers the best return for church members, in line with the stated aims. Paid staff will very often be the largest annual expense and also potentially be those that have most impact; often being the leadership. When things go wrong in employment, and sadly, even in churches they do, the emotional cost as well as the financial and time cost can be extremely high.
Churches are not exempt from employment legislation. The official Government guidance states that charities must ‘comply with relevant law including employment, pension, equality and health and safety law’, going on to state how important it is that employees are clear about what they are supposed to do (through clear job descriptions), aware of the rules and boundaries within which they must work and know what to do if there is a problem.
It’s therefore vital that churches have up-to-date job descriptions, contracts of employment and clear policies in place. Ensuring these key documents are in place not only makes sure that you are legally compliant as an employer but they will also help your employees to understand what is expected of them in their role, what their entitlements are and how difficult situations will be managed.
The official Government guidance on the role of a charity trustee advises: ‘Charities or their trustees can become liable to a third party who has a claim against the charity such as: breaches of an employee’s terms, conditions or rights’.
And ignorance is not a get-out. The Charities Commission guidelines state that trustees must take: ‘reasonable steps to find out about legal and regulatory requirements and keep up to date, for example by getting mailings from the commission and other sources, reading relevant guidance and attending appropriate training. The charity should also have systems and procedures to ensure that it complies with legal requirements’.
Another key element of good governance is about making sure the church organisation looks after all the personal data it collects, stores and has access to. The new GDPR legislation that came in to force in May this year has intensified the focus on handling data correctly and only holding it where there is a specific purpose to do so.
Clearly the aim of every church is to grow, both in terms of discipleship and also numerically. As churches expand, there are fresh challenges that come with it:
- Do you need to recruit new team members or change existing team member’s responsibilities?
- If people are taking on additional responsibilities, what should you pay them?
- Do you need to train new leaders? Or maybe introduce a coaching and mentoring programme for volunteers and team members alike?
Again, all these situations would benefit from external HR expertise.
How can we help?
Cornerstone Resources Limited is an independent, impartial HR organisation, led by established Christian leaders and managed with integrity and trust. With many years of proven experience not only in the professional HR world but also in church, we will bring an added understanding of church life and leadership and will work closely with you to understand the shape, culture and vision for your church to find the right solution for you.
We recognise that church resources are already stretched, so we offer a reduced hourly rate for churches and charities and will work with you to agree the best support to suit your budget.