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It is not about religion; it is about better employee care.
It is standard to see a chaplain at a hospital or on a military base, but what about in a dental laboratory? It may be unusual now, but that could easily change in the next few years as more businesses add chaplains to the payroll. Dick Pilsner, CDT, owner of D&S Dental Laboratory in Waunakee, Wisconsin, became interested in exploring this concept after reading about corporate chaplains in a June issue of The Wall Street Journal.1
The article looked at this growing trend in the United States, where major corporations like Tyson Foods, Coca-Cola Bottling Co, and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp have enlisted the services of in-house or outsourced chaplaincy programs. Typically they involve a weekly on-site visit from a chaplain, who is also available on-call 24-7 to help employees deal with personal and professional issues. “They claimed these programs have contributed to improvements in morale, productivity, safety, and quality,” Pilsner says. “Even though our laboratory is not as large as these companies, I felt we could reap some of the same benefits.”
Making a Difference
Although Pilsner was skeptical about whether his staff would accept such a program right away, he called in Capital Chaplains LLC, from Middleton, Wisconsin to deliver a presentation to all 83 of his employees. The company explained the services their chaplains provide, including crisis intervention, grief and substance abuse counseling, referrals to other professionals and social service agencies, training and education for employees and supervisors, programs for worship or prayer, and special events scheduled in response to needs in the workplace.
“It’s about being proactive in caring for the personal, emotional, and spiritual needs of employees,” Pilsner explains. To avoid disrupting workflow in the laboratory, the chaplain service schedules meetings with employees before and after work hours or during lunch hour. D&S employees may also flex their lunchtime to accommodate schedules if needed. The chaplains do not disclose to management which employees they are helping or what issues they address.
“A couple of employees have thanked me for offering this free benefit; it has already provided a source of support and resources in times of personal crises,” he says. “We just initiated this program about 3 months ago, but every week it makes more sense to us.” It costs the laboratory $15 per month for each employee, whether the employee uses the service or not. But, in the end, what is good for the employee is good for the bottom line.
1. Shellenbarger S. Praying with the office chaplain. The Wall Street Journal. June 23, 2010.