Greater focus on Staff Health, Wellbeing and Care

Our heart is for every person to find purpose – to see individuals discover the gifts and talents God has placed in them, and the mission He has created them for. Nowhere is this more true than for our staff – the incredible people who put their hand to the plough each day to make a difference for others.

We have deep appreciation for each of the hundreds of people who have worked with us across the past 20 years. For many of our staff team, it has been a calling, not a career. This has been a labour of love where people have sown their time, talent, and energy.

We have been able to do incredible things - plant campuses, meet the needs in our communities, minister to all generations, build church buildings, host conferences and greatest of all, to see souls won to Christ – this has been because of the amazing people who have served on our staff team.

Though we have always deeply loved our staff, we have not always had the best systems and practices in place in this area. Our intention has always been for our staff to be fully engaged and thriving in their roles, empowered and able to learn, grow, and make mistakes. This has been the experience for many people, who have loved their role and workplace. However, it has not been the experience for everyone, and this is one of our deepest areas of heartache, and our biggest commitment to change.

We have not always prioritised this area of our organisation, particularly in seasons where our growth has outpaced our systems. We are largely an organisation of pastors, and have at times blurred the line between employer and pastor, often erring on the side of informality. People have not always been clear on their roles or responsibilities or had access to guidelines for how we operate.

We recognise now more than ever that with a purpose-driven organisation, burn out and overwork are an ever-present risk. It is difficult to set boundaries and draw the lines for a healthy workload when we believe so wholeheartedly in the purpose and significance of each day’s work. On top of that, our staff is largely dedicated to pastoring - walking with people, often through the hardest of life’s journeys. The intensity and complexity of pastoral situations can take a significant emotional toll. In the past, we often left it up to individuals to manage their own workloads when we should have proactively taken responsibility for staff health.

We also have been on a journey, particularly in the past five years, of understanding and correcting where our culture in practice has not reflected our intent. We have had values of excellence and growth – the desire to reflect the wonder and greatness of our God, and to reach more people and cities with the good news. But we recognise that this has sometimes gone too far, and we have emphasised achievement and growth over health. We have also recognised the need to actively seek out feedback and encourage conflict, in an environment where this tends to be rarer.

Over the past few years, we have put into place a number of safeguards and guidelines to make sure our staff are healthy and supported:

  • Regular supervision sessions provided for pastoral and managerial staff, and wider staff on request.
  • Pastoral training with mental health professionals provided on a variety of topics.
  • External support and engagement for complex situations.
  • Clear manager, pastor, and peer support for each employee.
  • Health, Safety & Wellbeing Advisor appointed.
  • Several reviews of operations and activity to reduce workload.
  • Professional development budgets provided for each staff member.

We have put time into ensuring that our staff have clarity on their roles, feedback and support on their performance, and understanding of our policies and procedures:

  • Regular check in and performance appraisals.
  • Formal pay bands and salary-setting process.
  • Standard induction & offboarding processes in place.

We have also worked to grow our People & Culture function so that we have a range of advice and input and can pursue best practice in HR:

  • Employment legal firm engaged to support employee relations.
  • Engagement with Employsure for additional HR support.
  • Experienced HR & Organisational Change Consultant engaged this year.
  • Currently recruiting for a larger People & Culture team.

We genuinely believe that our people are our greatest asset. We are committed to owning where we have fallen short and doing the work to bring change and improvement to this critical area of our organisation. The above lists highlight what we have done in recent years and with intentionality this year, but are by no means the end of our focus on this area - we are committed to continuing this journey!

We are setting out to build an amazing workplace where people can bring their gifts and talents and thrive in building God’s house.

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