Better lives, better businesses
What if a marketplace Christian ran a sustainable social enterprise which focused on improving the well-being of employees in local organisations and leveraged some of the material churches have, such as parenting courses?
The New Economics Foundation looking at wellbeing at work, reported "Well-being plays a central role in creating flourishing societies. Focusing on well-being at work presents a valuable opportunity to benefit societies by helping working individuals to feel happy, competent, and satisfied in their roles. The evidence also shows that people who achieve good standards of well-being at work are likely to be more creative, more loyal, more productive, and provide better customer satisfaction than individuals with poor standards of well-being at work.
“For decades, organisations have tried to foster these qualities through employee engagement strategies; however, the evidence in this report demonstrates that engaging employees is just one part of the story. Improving well-being at work implies a more rounded approach, which focuses on helping employees to:
strengthen their personal resources
flourish and take pride in their roles within the organisational system
function to the best of their abilities, both as individuals and in collaboration with their colleagues
have a positive overall experience of work”
The Church has tremendous resources and activities to help employees strengthen personal resources and help improve personal relationships. Some examples of these resources are:
being a listening ear
relationship, marriage and marriage preparation courses
managing money courses
recovery from divorce and separation
Materials exist for much of the above.
What would the services of such an organisation look like?
There would be several options for local businesses and other organisations to select from and fees would be charged according to those options and the size of the company.
There would be no discrimination – all employees would be treated regardless of race, sex, disability, sexual orientation or religion or belief. The employer will be very sensitive to any evangelism and the services offered will not involve any proselyting. However, that will not stop employees asking about matters of faith or asking for prayer if they have a faith. It opens up doors for Christians to help people in workplaces in the community.
Service options could be:
Running courses in the workplace that all employees could sign up for. They would be run over a number of weeks in the lunch hour or just after work. For larger organisations, they would be run on their premises. For smaller organisations, they could be run in a neutral location (not a church building) and employees from several smaller organisations could attend as a mixed audience. Employees would be asked about interest in a course in order to assess whether it is worth running.
The leader could bring a number of trained people from local churches to run these - introduce in and then delegate the sessions.
Some of the courses could be:
Parenting - early years, teens, special needs, fatherhood, etc (various providers)
Happiness Course (Livability)
Handling money well (CAP)
Improving your marriage
Divorce and Separation Recovery workshop (DRW)
The organisation would pay for the course based on attendees subject to a minimum fee.
2. Lunchtime topics
The leader would form a small steering group within the organisation who would find out what topics were of interest to employees. Examples might be; becoming a carer, getting babies to sleep, worklife balance, etc. Speakers would be arranged who would come in and give a lunchtime talk (people bring sandwiches). This could be repeated at other organisations. See a blog about an experience of this.
Regularity depends on size of organisation/needs. A mixed session could be held for smaller organisations. Fees would be paid by employers per session and cost will be variable due to speaker.
Contract with a local pastor who could visit a workplace on a regular basis, as agreed, to provide pastoral care and support, encouragement and a 'listening ear' to all within the organisation. Employees can book a time with the ‘workplace chaplain’ who is understood to be independent and that all conversations are confidential.
Depending on the size of the organisation, a regular visit of an appropriate number of hours is arranged. It is important that the ‘chaplain’ builds a rapport with all employees to help build relationships and confidence in the service [i.e. he/she is not there to preach to them].
The ‘chaplain’ would be on call outside of agreed times within certain hours to help with any employee ‘crisis’ e.g. bereavement, relationship breakdown in the workplace, accident, etc.
The fees are based on a monthly retainer and the hours contracted and hours spent above a minimum.
I have worked out a short business plan for the above and it looks sustainable depending on businesses in an area. One of the key people needs credibility e.g. qualified in an HR discipline or a recognised counselling qualification such as those accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or other professional organisations.
The concept needs to piloted with one organisation and then scaled in that town if successful. Then it can be scaled nationally.
If this is of interest to an experienced Christian entrepreneur especially with life coaching experience, why don't we have a discussion? Please contact me.
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Geoff Knott, 11/04/2017