In times of economic growth or recession, work place chaplains have a crucial role to play in offering pastoral support to staff – whether CEO or apprentice – in public or private sectors.
Some staff may feel well supported by their employer through their current welfare provision. Others however, due to their personal circumstances, can sometimes feel isolated and unable to talk to their line manager, someone in a staff association, or even a close friend.
Their question is: “Who can I talk to?”
Whatever the situation, work place chaplains have a duty of care to be responsive to staff who are looking for an independent listening ear where their story can be heard and where their circumstances are listened to with complete confidentiality. Chaplains will often offer initial practical support and pastoral advice, but they will also refer staff to professional counsellors or agencies as required.
Once a relationship of trust is built, chaplains often find that employees want to ‘offload’ and the chaplain is seen as someone completely reliable and credible where no subject is too difficult.
At other times the chaplain may accompany an employee to the local hospital to see a loved one or simply be available after an accident or crisis.
The chaplain can offer support to both management and unions in an industrial dispute and indeed can often act as a trusted mediator in avoiding escalation of misunderstandings or disagreements.
Sometimes the chaplain may be asked to conduct or arrange special events such as memorial services, anniversary celebrations or even, occasionally, a wedding of an employee with whom the chaplain has built up a relationship over time.
‘Relationship’ is the key to good chaplaincy. It is the job of the chaplain to be a role model for positive, productive and ethical working relationships among all staff.
It is often said that “a happy workforce is a productive workforce”; it can be equally said that a workforce built upon solid relationships, supported by a work place chaplain to ‘oil the cogs’ is a healthier one in mind, body and spirit.