They are often in the shadows. And yet, they occupy essential positions to run the dioceses and the Christian movements. How do Church workers view their work? The recruitment firm Ecclésia RH interviewed 600 of them. The survey focuses on clearly identified areas: communication, stewardship, human resources and management.
With a blind spot: pastoral missions, which can be carried out by employees: “The pastoral work is structured but it is marked by a too great heterogeneity of professions”, remarks Gabriel Bardinet, deputy director of Ecclésia RH.
While they have spent much of their career in the corporate world, those who return to Church service feel good there. “Coming from recognized professions, they can promote their expertise in Christian institutions sometimes lacking these skills”, explains Yves-Marie Carpentier, retired deacon, HR.
It is true that ecclesial institutions show true recognition to the “pros”. With, however, a demand which does not differ from the traditional labor market: like all employees, those who work in the Church would be in favor … of a salary increase. Finally, being employed in the Church does not prevent situations of suffering at work: “We should however be a laboratory of the social doctrine of the Church”, sighs a regular in the dioceses.
Find his place
Employees also want to be involved in strategic decisions and they call for a better definition of the scope of their profession. In other words, bishops, priests and deacons can sometimes use an authority conferred by ordination: “Some priests are afraid of the competition represented by the professionals, they want to keep control”, confides, on condition of anonymity, an observer.
In the process of professionalization, employees still express two concerns. First, the lack of exchange with peers, even if efforts are made so that communicators or diocesan treasurers, for example, can meet at the national level. The other concern is linked to the lack of training.
Call for funds
In the human resources sector, the disparity in statutes – cleric, lay person, employee, volunteer – does not always facilitate the coordination of missions and recruitments. As for communicators, they must address various audiences, fundraising being their main mission, ahead of informing the faithful or mobilizing charitable causes.
More technical, the role of the stewards is also extensive. Depending on the size of the structure, it may combine budgetary responsibilities as well as human resources, property management, IT, regulations … As for managers, they leave a part of their family life there, in exchange for a real autonomy of decision. Finally, they are concerned with the future, both within the various boards of directors and in the transmission of the original charism.
Work “in Church”
“Resorting to people who are more committed than competent is no longer sufficient”, concludes the study of Ecclésia RH. “We must also weigh the results according to the structures: there is no comparison possible between a small rural diocese and a large charitable association., underlines Philippe Duquénoy, deacon of the diocese of Versailles and retired HRD. Likewise, this study must be put into perspective with the sometimes very important missions carried out by volunteers. “
Why work in the Church? This is the weak point of the study: if it is not legal to question an employee about his religious convictions, Yves-Marie Carpentier regrets that the spiritual dimension is not mentioned: “There is a pastoral responsibility even in the positions of steward, human resources, communicator; to work in a Catholic school or for a diocese is to join a project in the service of the Gospel. “
Finally, if the observatory really wants to measure “Christian talents”, it will be necessary to leave the sacristies: “Christians exercise their talents in all the diversity of the corporate world, emphasizes Yves-Marie Carpentier. It is not only in the Church that there is a way of living one’s work as a Christian. “ Ecclésia RH is already planning to conduct a similar survey, this time addressing Christians in the world of work.
Who was interviewed?
The people interviewed work in dioceses (26% of them), in Catholic education (24%), for confessional associations or foundations (24%), or are employed in Christian-inspired companies, congregations, medical or charitable reception structures.
60% of employees in the Church had a first career in the commercial sector.
70% of employees feel recognized or very recognized in their missions. Rather, they feel secure in their jobs and optimistic about their future.
Human resources managers would like “Improve the consistency between saying and doing” (23%), training in management (23%), enhancing the attractiveness of positions (18%).
Communication is aimed primarily at the faithful (65%), the general public (62%), and donors (51%).