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Top 10: Factors to Consider when Onboarding Church Employees

 This is another posting in the MinistryCPA Top 10 series:

When integrating new employees into a church, leaders can become overwhelmed with the onboarding process. In churches, several different factors need to be considered on the first day of work, as well as some information that should be communicated to the employee. We have compiled a list of some of the factors that a church should consider when hiring and onboarding a new employee.


1. Clear communication about job expectations

When onboarding new employees it is vital that they understand their responsibilities and learn about the church. Giving the employee a job description can be a great help to them. Having clear information about their job responsibilities as well as clear descriptions of their co-workers' jobs can help the new employee understand who to go to in different situations. For example, a new church bookkeeper may not know if he or she is supposed to collect information for payroll. The pastoral role would benefit from a clear job description as well. For example if a pastor is being hired by a church that has a school he needs to know his level of involvement.


2. Hours and Days of Employment

Communicating exact employment days and hours is one of the first steps that should be taken. A new employee needs to know what time they are expected to start work and get off of work. This not only helps them to plan for arriving to work on time, but also helps them to plan their home life. Pastors often do not have the same consistency as other church employees, but any detail that can be provided to the pastor is beneficial. 

3. W-4, I-9, and other compensation documents

The first day at a new job requires lots of paperwork. The first document that should be filled out is Form W-4, which tells the church how much to withhold for federal income tax. Form I-9 must also be completed by the employee and kept in the church's files. This document verifies that the person is eligible to work in the United States. Another common document is some type of direct deposit authorization. Most churches use direct deposit to pay their employees, and information such as the routing number and account number is necessary for the direct deposit transaction. There may be additional documents depending on the church's location as well as the employee's position.


4. Computer log-in and software

Software is used for a variety of applications in the church, and the new employee needs to have access to the accounts that are required for their job. It is best if the church can set up the accounts before the arrival of the new employee and then provide them  with login information for each of the accounts. This method streamlines the process and improves the onboarding of new employees. 


5. Employee handbook policies

 An employee handbook is a useful document that can lay out what responsibilities belong to which positions in a church as well as communicate church policies. Every church has different policies and a handbook can be a good way to communicate those policies. Employee handbooks often include policies related to working with minors, counseling practices, dress codes, and church office procedures.   


6. Benefit sign up

The church should inform new employees about benefit options before the individual begins their employment, related paperwork can then be completed and filed on the first day. An employee may want to take some time to decide what benefits they want to take part in and what benefits are not as valuable to them. The sooner that they are given the information, the sooner they can get the paperwork back to the church and can enroll in the benefits that they chose.

7. Specialized training

Depending on the job of the individual, there may be some special training that needs to be carried out. New employees may not always be prepared or have experience in the role that he or she is expected to fill. No matter if the person is a seasoned professional or a student straight out of college, they will need some guidance about how to fulfill their job requirements. Special training for church functions such as counseling, preaching, or youth group directing may be needed to help prepare the new employee for their responsibilities. There is no set way to train but it is something that the church leadership should be aware of. 


8. Policies about church property

Policies regarding church property need to be communicated to the new employee. These could be policies regarding church property such as building usage, vehicle usage, parsonage upkeep, and church upkeep. Employees must know what the rules and responsibilities are regarding the usage of church property. 


9. Office set-up & Orientation

In some cases, a new employee's office may be set up already, if not then the first day is a great opportunity for them to get comfortable in their new space. Having an office that is customized by the new employee with their decorations and style will help them to settle in quicker.


10. Co-worker introductions

Introducing a new employee is one of the easiest ways to help the person feel comfortable at the church. Knowing employees' names and positions is a great way to help them become acclimated to the culture that they will be working in.


While this list represents the top 10 factors that should be considered when onboarding new church employees, we recognize that there are certainly more factors to consider. Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below, including topics that you would like us to cover. Contact us if we can help you address any of the topics above.


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