“My church’s giving is declining while everyone’s cost of living is increasing. How can I still show our church staff that we care about them during these financially challenging times? What can I do?”
If you are a church leader, you might be experiencing something similar. Inflation has caused many church staff members to feel financially stressed. The church’s compensation package seems to cover less with each passing month.
And it is not as simple as increasing salaries. Many churches are financially providing for their staff as much as they can. But even if giving remains steady, they can’t keep up with rising living expenses.
Across the nation, church leaders are looking for low-cost or no-cost ways to care for their staff. If you are in the same situation, consider these nine ways to care for church staff during lean financial times:
1. Talk openly about the church’s financial challenges.
Do not leave room for speculation or allow staff to fill an information void with bad information. Talk to the church staff about the financial challenges the church is facing and recognize the pressures staff members are facing. Let them know you desire to do more financially but are not able to at this moment. Even though open communication will not solve anyone’s financial difficulties, it can help the staff know you understand and care about their situation.
2. Increase the number of vacation days.
One of the ways to make financial packages more valuable without increasing salaries is to require less work for the same pay. Granted, church staff members must still pay their bills. However, many will welcome the additional days off and see it as part of an effort to care for them and their families. Additional vacation days may also provide staff members time to make side income.
3. Allow flex schedules.
Flex schedules allow staff members to work during times that are most convenient and productive for them. Allowing flex schedules can help staff members better manage family and work life. There will likely need to be some set days and times when staff members are required to be in the office. This is normal. But church staff members may appreciate the flexibility outside of those times.
4. Offer work from home when possible.
Some job responsibilities lend themselves better for at-home work than others. When possible, consider offering the option for at-home work. Many employees have shown appreciation for such a work setup. Your staff members may also feel appreciated when the work-from-home option is available.
5. Encourage side gigs.
A side gig is an income earning opportunity outside of an employee’s primary job. Flex schedules and increased vacation days allow more opportunities for side gigs. Side gigs not only provide an additional source of income, but they also allow employees to work in an area of passion they are unable to do full-time. There are many side gig opportunities out there, some that further ministry experience and are beneficial to the church. Let your staff know side gigs are accepted and even encouraged.
6. Publicly and privately celebrate staff members.
Regular words of affirmation are powerful. They create an environment where staff members feel appreciated. Such environments have shown to increase employee retention, even when employees are presented with higher paying job offers. Public recognition of a staff member’s work can occur in a staff meeting, a church business meeting, or, when appropriate, during the church service. Private recognition can occur through one-on-one conversations or through handwritten notes. Never underestimate the power of a few encouraging words.
7. Invite staff members over to the house with no agenda.
Sometimes, staff members can feel disconnected from other church leaders. This perceived separation can create a sense of frustration, alienation, and lack of care. Those who feel least connected will likely look for work elsewhere. To genuinely connect with staff members, invite them over to your house with no agenda. Share a casual meal and talk about life outside of work. Get to know them, and let them get to know you. Deeper connections can make staff members feel more appreciated and more cared for.
8. Provide one-time bonuses when possible.
Granted, we are talking about times when church finances are tight. So, this suggestion may not be feasible for all churches. However, one-time bonuses do not commit the church to a long-term financial expense. When giving is higher than expected for a particular week or month, consider setting aside those additional funds for one-time bonuses. Single bonuses can demonstrate care for staff’s financial difficulties without straining the church budget even further.
9. Offer sessions with a financial coach.
Financial coaches help individuals and couples make wise budget-related and debt-related decisions. They guide and encourage clients to manage the resources with which God has entrusted the client in a wise manner. Financial coaches can also help individuals and couples make the most out of limited resources. Sessions are not overly expensive, often ranging from $125 to $175 for one hour. Offering to cover a few financial coaching sessions could prove to be beneficial both for staff members’ present situation and future financial health.
Without question, you appreciate and care for your staff members. You want to see them thrive in all areas of life, including their financial health. But recent challenges have strained both church and personal finances.
Don’t assume there is nothing you can do about the situation. While the church may not be able to increase salaries, there are some low-cost or no-cost ways to demonstrate care and understanding. From providing additional vacation days to giving one-time bonuses, consider how your church can care for its staff members. While you may not be able to solve all the problems staff members currently face, you can demonstrate your love and concern for them.