Why You Can't Keep Great Staff Right Now – And What To Do For The Future
At Vanderbloemen, our week is often filled with stories about staff turnover within churches. Whether it’s an Executive Pastor talking about losing a ministry leader or a search committee member talking through the difficulties of getting a lead pastor search started, turnover happens. Many times, turnover is unavoidable. God calls each of us to one place at a time, which often means He will call us elsewhere eventually.
However, there is certain turnover that is avoidable, and we've found a few reoccurring themes. Many times these themes go unnoticed until a church has someone from the outside look into the problem.
Here are the two biggest reasons why great staff may leave a church – and how to address these problems before it's too late.
Compensation can be a tough topic when it comes to church staff. When we speak about compensation being a reason for staff turnover, we're not referring to someone who leaves because they made enough and an opportunity for more came along. We're referring to someone whose pay is so far below what is “fair” that providing for their family becomes stressful.
When your staff constantly worries about whether they can pay their mortgage or put food on the table, there is something wrong with your compensation structure. If an expected medical bill threatens to devastate a staff member’s finances, it’s time to rethink compensation. Also, if your staff must constantly think about how to make ends meet, the likelihood of a long tenure is slim. That position will be perpetually vacant until the compensation allows for security.
"When your staff constantly worries about whether they can pay their mortgage or put food on the table, there is something wrong with your compensation structure."
How to fix it: Using external data, determine what fair compensation is based on a person’s experience. On top of that, be sure to adjust the data for cost of living. The cost of living in Los Angeles is significantly different from Birmingham, Alabama. Rent in Raleigh, North Carolina is going to be cheaper than Seattle, Washington. Know how far a dollar can go in your area. This knowledge will lead to wisdom in how to reset compensation that is fair.
Interested in a Compensation and Benefits Analysis for your church staff? Our team can help with a customized report on how your pay structure measures up. Read more about our Compensation & Benefits Analyses here.
This issue is a lot more difficult to nail down than compensation, but it is just as important. Allowing staff to have ownership of their individual ministries creates an environment of initiative and personal growth.
Many times when ownership isn’t allowed, ministry leaders feel relegated to manage ministries, rather than trusted to invigorate and grow them. When there is a sense of ownership, your staff is more likely to step forward with ideas and solutions to help grow and develop the ministry further.
If staff members don’t see the value in voicing their opinions and giving creative feedback, the likelihood of them sticking around is slim. A lack of ownership does not only affect the staff. If your church stifles ownership beyond senior leadership, there is a good chance those senior leaders will burn out as well.
"Allowing staff to have ownership of their individual ministries creates an environment of initiative and personal growth."
How to fix it: The leadership at Vanderbloemen often says ownership begins by giving away responsibility sooner than you think you should. As tough as it may be for you, give away responsibility to your staff and allow them to utilize their own gifts to grow their ministry. If you are a senior leader reading this, know this can also lighten your workload as well.
How is your church working to ensure that great staff stay?