Cheap Employee Benefits (that Don’t Come Off as Cheap)

Cheap Employee Benefits (that Don’t Come Off as Cheap)

“I decided to go into ministry work because the pay was so great!”, said no one EVER.

Ministry is a thankless job in many ways. The pay isn’t usually very good, the hours are long and include nights and weekends, and the people you serve can be unappreciative at best and hostile at worst. Most people who enter the ministry do so for the glory of God, not the paycheck, but they are still human and need to make a living.

Church budgets are tighter than ever and the candidate pool dwindling, so how do churches and ministries attract high-quality staff while still being good stewards of their limited (and ever-changing) funds? Here are five employee benefits you can provide to your staff at little to no financial cost that can add incredible value to their job and your organization:

1. Vacation Time

When ministries create their annual budget, they include the entire compensation cost for each employee. Vacation time adds nothing to that total number and adds no expense to the church. When staff members take vacation time, they get everything ready for their absence: they empower high-level volunteers or work with other staff to cover anything needed while they are out. Generally, there isn’t any extra cost (unless you hire a guest speaker or musician). So whether you give 10 days of vacation (which should be your bare minimum) or 20, your bottom line cost is still the same. Why not be generous?

2. Office Shut Down Time

This may sound like we’re repeating ourselves, but this one is very different: many churches like to shut down their office the week between Christmas and New Year.   Most still have weekend service(s) but attendance is much smaller, allowing for a low-key service.  Not only is this time off a great breather for staff, but also ensures they won’t get random calls or be slammed with a million emails when they return because everyone else was off too! If you are feeling especially gracious, try shutting the office down over the week of July 4th. This is another popular travel time for families so it would also be a good time to take a collective “breather” as a staff (maybe even after your VBS or youth summer camps).

3. Regular Recognition

The most affordable way to build up relational capital with your staff is to simply compliment them! Call out a job well done in front of the whole staff at a staff meeting or leave a handwritten note of praise and encouragement on someone’s desk after a long week. Create a culture of recognition and appreciation: Establish an “Awesome Award” you give out every week or provide special notecards for the staff to write notes of encouragement to each other. Take a staff member out to lunch after a big event to celebrate or drop off their favorite snack or drink to show you see them and appreciate their efforts. Recognize the whole staff for their hard work with a staff fun day: shut down the offices, have a potluck, and declare a nerf war (get the youth leaders to plan this and it will be awesome!).

4. Professional Growth

Create opportunities for growth for your employees! Host a group of people outside your church who have the same role; think a small group for associate pastors to swap ideas or a support group for youth ministers. Tap into elders or well-respected congregants to individually mentor your staff and provide guidance and wisdom. Send your staff members to applicable conferences or provide a monthly book allowance. Any financial investment in your staff’s growth and development will certainly pay off in their increased creativity and leadership abilities.

5. Create a Comfortable Work Environment

This is going to look different in every office: zero in on what your staff values and figure out how to help them be more comfortable while at work. If your staff members practically live in their individual offices, invest in better chairs or standing workstations. Provide stipends for periodic painting, furniture, and redecorating. If your staff members are pet people, consider implementing a pet policy that allows them to bring their furry friends to the office with them. If they’re all extroverted pals, make the break room an extra special hangout spot with snacks, comfy furniture, and a foosball table where they can let off a little steam and build relationships with each other.

There are a million more ways to set your organization apart and show you truly care for your people other than just adding a zero to their paycheck. Take some time to talk to your staff this week and really listen to what they value. Tap into their passions and pastimes to make work a little less like a job and more like an extension of who they are. When staff members feel valued and seen, the benefits are immeasurable.

Original content by HR Ministry Solutions. This information is provided with the understanding that Payroll Partners is not rendering legal, human resources, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from a lawyer, HR consultant or other professional.