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Faith and Employee Loyalty

I am constantly looking for organizations that are doing new and creative programs for its employees.  Too often organizations sit back and think that because they are giving their employees a job, that is enough.  Unfortunately, in this ever increasing competitiveness for labor, organizations that offer perks, are a bit unique, or a bit different, and meet the employees’ needs are the ones likely to capture that valuable, high-performing talent. 

Which leads me to an organization called Premier Bandag, which retreads tires.  This organization employs mainly blue collar individuals, working in a hot, sticky, and stinky environment.  Yet, they have virtually no turnover and almost all of the employees have been with the organization for at least 5 years. 

One of the reasons for this low turnover is the company has a Corporate Chaplain.  This Chaplain is from the organization, Corporate Chaplains for America.  In speaking to Rich Elliott, President of Premier Bandag he says, "The Army has a Chaplain, NFL teams have a Chaplain, so why can’t this organization?"

The Chaplain program started  coincidentally enough in September 2001.  Corporate Chaplains of America supplies the Chaplain for the Indianapolis plant, but unfortunately does not go to the Mishawaka, IN plant.  So Rich found a local pastor who was willing to be the Chaplain of the Mishawaka plant.  The Chaplain has free reign of the plant and can walk the line freely and is available to discuss any topic with the employees; financial concerns, family problems, spiritual problems, etc.  The Chaplain can, and has, performed weddings, funerals, and is available for any counseling needs of the employees and is available 24/7 via a pager. 

In speaking with Rich, he first got the idea as he was thinking about how the organization does a lot to take care of the employee’s physical needs but does nothing to take care of the emotional and spiritual needs.  If the employees have their emotional and spiritual needs taken care of, they can be more focused on their job, and less worried about family, financial, or other issues.  This leads to increases in productivity and high levels of employee loyalty.  

I asked Rich, in this day of political correctness where religion can be such a lighting rod topic, if there was any resistance to the Chaplain program and if employees complained that religion was being shoved down their throat.  His response was an emphatic, "None. Not one complaint the entire time the program has been in place."

In fact, when the program started, one employee said, "This company has always cared about its employees, but this really shows it."  This employee is now struggling with Stage 4 cancer and Rich can’t always get up to Mishawaka to be with this employee but the Chaplain is there on a regular basis and has become a key piece of his support structure as he deals with this illness. 

The Chaplain program is not one I had heard of before, and as I was speaking with Rich, I was getting excited about it and I am not even part of it.  Focusing on the emotional and spiritual aspect of the employee makes sense and it is a wonder more organizations aren’t doing something like this.  When I was talking to Rich, he said he would be happy to speak to anyone about the benefits of the program and answer any questions.  If you would like to speak to Rich, please contact me at cwoolard@walkerinfo.com and I can put you in touch. 

About the Author

Chris Woolard

Chris Woolard

Chris is responsible for the sale, design, implementation, account management, and consulting for his clients’ employee and customer assessment programs. He focuses on employee loyalty consulting and is considered Walker’s employee loyalty expert. He has worked with many companies on customer due diligence solutions.

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0 thoughts on “Faith and Employee Loyalty

  1. Chris,

    Great article and very timely post. It’s important to remember that this is not just a season in which an employer can sit back on the labor side and say, "this is a buyer’s market and I don’t need to worry about my people leaving." If anything, this is the time to invest in making sure their people–who have relatives and families going through this tough time–know that their company really cares. This Chaplain program is very innovative. Good article.

  2. Sustainable loyalty for employers and employees.It’s amazing that such dinosaurs (performance review systems, not the people) are still around. They must be, however, since a book has been published called “Get Rid of Performance Reviews’. Yet despite the outcry against reviews, there’s nothing wrong with them that can’t be fixed by getting managers off of center stage. Top management can fix the basic problems the review system faces.
    Critics argue that performance reviews not only don’t accomplish what they’re supposed to do – that is, improve performance, enhance employee skills and achieve planned outcomes – they have unintended negative consequences. In many cases, unfortunately, that’s true. But it doesn’t have to be that way. What companies need to abolish is not performance review itself, but the idea that it’s a “management tool. Here are some practiced paradigms that must be discarded:
    Performance Review is designed, as the name suggests, in support of managers. If you believe this, your management is one of the roadblocks to exceptional performance. The most useful performance review support work relationships between employees (managers too are employees). Both parties need to address the question of how to best serve the goals and outcomes and align their work efforts.
    Performance review is a management tool. Managers are not necessarily the best qualified to assess their staff’s accomplishments. In fact, they may have a very limited or biased view. A more complete and accurate picture results when employees and managers seek feedback from a variety of customers, team leaders, professional peers, and others inside or from outside the unit.
    Performance reviews include judgments from a “higher authority”. Judgments produce compliant workers – people who are told what to do – not innovative ones. People hate performance reviews because most of them are fault-finding. How much better to ask, “What did we learn from this? What can we each do different the next time?”
    The manager is responsible for obtaining input from the employees. 21st century employees can’t assume a passive role in performance review, providing “tough-minded” self-assessments and valuable insights only on request. They must take the initiative, soliciting feedback from their managers and others. No risk taking to solicit the complete picture and no learning means no improvements.
    Managers should be trained in performance reviews, then prepare their employees for the process. If performance review is to be a productive partnership with employees taking the active role and both parties committed to exchanging knowledge and ideas, managers and employee need to be trained together.

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