In Part 1 of our Workplace Chaplains series, "The Canadian Workplace Situation", we identified two issues facing Canadian workplaces.
- The first is the well documented mental health struggles facing a great number of Canadian workers.
- The second is what many employers are calling "The Millennial Problem" – the question of how to facilitate and welcome in this generation, utilizing their strengths while also balancing the workplace culture and needs of employers.
Having presented numerous indicators in "The Changing Canadian Workforce" stat sheet, there are mental health struggles in the workplace, but the questions that may arise are “Why have I not heard about this?” and “If it is really that bad, surely something is being done about it, right?”.
What has become clear, is that this is a silent crisis. Workplaces are left on their own and encouraged to get Employee and Family Assistance Programs (EFAPs), meanwhile the time off is viewed as just another statistic of “workplace injury”.
But, to frame this differently, if 20%, or one out of every five workers in Canada, started getting a chemical related illness that required time off (which also accounted for 30% of all workplace-reported injuries), there would likely be a large investigation. If the investigation came back stating that 90% of Canadian companies have the necessary antidote to the chemical illness but only 11% of the employees are accessing it, then the questions raised would be ‘How do we create a pre-emptive measure to protect from this chemical?’ and ‘How do we increase the usage of the antidote once people become ill?’.
Workplace chaplaincy is the protective gear for this crisis; it is a preventative measure that protects employees from mental health crises (and numerous others) as well as enhances the usage and engagement of employees with their EFAPs when crisis does hit. The best part is that much of the research coming out of this emerging field points to a very strong return on investment (ROI). For reference, an EFAPs ROI is roughly $8.70 for every $1.00 invested—less absenteeism, higher morale, higher efficiency, higher energy, and less turnover. This ROI has the potential to be even greater as a higher percentage of employees engage with their EFAP!
A workplace leveraging a chaplaincy program will see their EFAP engagement rise (increasing the ROI) as well as other benefits both calculable and incalculable.
What is a Workplace Chaplain?
While I know we want to start with this question, the best place to start is 1700 years ago with the origins of chaplaincy and establishing what a workplace chaplain is NOT as we move to define what it actually is.
St. Martin of Tours
Between the years of 316 and 397 CE there lived a Bishop named Martin, who is now known as St. Martin of Tours. Martin was a Roman soldier deployed in Gaul (modern-day France).
As a soldier moving through a village, he came across a beggar, freezing in the winter cold and hopped off his horse. This beggar was a fellow Roman soldier who had in some way or another fallen out of the military and found himself homeless. Some sources say Martin threw his cape (cappellani) over himself and the downtrodden soldier to warm themselves. Most sources say he cut his cappellani into two giving half of it to the beggar to ward off the cold, then the other half he kept as he had already given the remainder of his clothes away in a similar manner.
Capellani, the word for the cape used to help the destitue beggar, is the root word for chaplain and with time has become synonymous with a chaplain.
A chaplain is like the cape thrown over those in need. This could be in many different settings, such as a hospital, the military, a sports team, or the workplace. Business owners that see the need and have a desire to sacrificially help their workforce are like St. Martin of Tours, identifying the need and getting the appropriate cappellani to meet the need.
What Chaplains ARE and ARE NOT
Chaplains are really and simply just that.
A cape thrown over the freezing.
A person that speaks to those in need of community, support and a listening ear.
A chaplain is not a religious zealot or pastor or proselytizing minister. Much like St. Martin, we are a Christian organization, but this is the foundation for recognizing the need, and being compelled into action. We recognize the innate value of every person in the workforce, the people we know and have yet to know and seek to be the cappellani in their lives.
Our method is simple.
- First, we get to know workers at their pace. We start with comfort building exercises, letting our intentions and availability be known and letting our passion for holistic wellness be known.
- Then, we begin building a non-judgemental, respectful, sacrificial relationship with every employee, getting to know them. This inevitably leads to deep and meaningful discussions about a whole host of topics. For reference, in 2022, discussions on relationships and loneliness accounted for 27% of workers discussions with their chaplain; 14% were about future plans; 13% centred on leadership and coaching (tune in for part 3 and how this ties into "The Millennial Problem"); and only 4% of the discussions across all our clients were specifically about their spiritual journey. That 4% was across a whole spectrum of spiritual journeys and religions, but as with all topics discussed, these conversations are client-driven. That means, we are the cappellani, not the preacher or evangelist.
Our approach also works!
With our Workplace Chaplaincy program, between 50 to 110% of employees engage with their chaplain. (To understand how 110% of employees can engage with their chaplain, see Part 3!). This means that our approach works. Our chaplains are approachable and engaged by a majority of the workforce; they direct workers to the EFAP programs, or other community resources, building a team around every worker so they have a greater fortitude and capacity in the face of inevitable adversity!
All along the way their chaplain/cappellani is available 24/7.
Addressing Interpersonal Challenges in the Workplace
Make sure to check out Part 3 "Workplace Chaplains: Addressing Interpersonal Challenges in the Workplace", as we look at how chaplaincy is addressing issues such as "The Millenial Problem"; workplace drama and conflict; and personal growth for employees.
If you are a business owner, or worker and feel that what your workplace is missing is a cappellani, someone there to get into the crisis and chaos of life, please contact us by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are passionate about the workforce in Canada and want to see lives transformed through holistic wellness.
If this blog has engaged you, we want to invite you to the official rebrand and relaunch of our chaplaincy program. We have a storied 20 year history and it all gets a new look which will be first revealed at an online virtual reveal event on April 27, 2023. You are invited to join us for this event at 7:00pm PST for a 30 minute reveal of the new branding which encompasses the 1700 years of history into a new package to reach the emerging Canadian Workforce. See you there! https://outreach.ca/betterworkplace
Jonathan Kraft is the Assistant Director with Corporate Chaplains Canada, celebrating his second year anniversary with the team this month. He is passionate about the evolving workplace in Canada and the growing awareness to mental health struggles of Canadians. He loves seeing the impact of chaplains in the workplace and is excited to see this model expand into more companies!