AP Photo/ Bilal Hussein
Although church attendance across the country has been declining, the number of workplace chaplains has steadily increased. More and more businesses are opting to utilize the services of spiritual caretakers to improve employee morale and productivity. Aside from the obvious benefit of providing needed help to employees, companies choosing to embrace workplace religion, boast reductions in absenteeism and workplace turnover as major benefits.
Employees appear to appreciate the convenience of having a personal chaplain at their disposal. Should a job-related or personal crisis arise, many workers (even those who consider themselves irreligious) express a feeling of comfort in interacting with chaplains provided by employers. The pastoral counselors actively engage with troubled workers, assisting them with family issues, substance abuse issues, emotional issues, and spiritual concerns.
The corporate chaplains appear to enthusiastically embrace the responsibilities and challenges associated with their profession. Typically, they visit offices or factories on a weekly basis, greeting employees, handing out business cards, and meeting with workers one-on-one. For the roving clergy, a timeclock is not an issue. They are on call twenty four hours a day, ready to provide comfort and encouragement whenever and wherever needed. With very short notice, they could be summoned to hospitals, homes, restaurants, or jails to provide assistance in emergency situations.
In an age where more and more people spend a majority of their waking hours at work (rather than at home) the shift toward non-traditional workplace accommodation is an inevitable reality. Clearly, the intersection of religion and work is a critical element in the growing national conversation regarding faith. Despite the fact that the southern region of the United States has earned the "Bible Belt" title, the area is lagging behind the rest of the nation in the workplace chaplain movement.