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Throughout the pandemic, awareness and advocacy for workplace mental health and well-being continues to rise. There is a consensus among leaders in various industries that mental health support needs to be top of mind. Increasing attention has been given to traditional employee assistance programs as a means of connecting employees with mental health and well-being services. An on-site chaplaincy program is another way for companies to demonstrate a caring culture and support for employees. 

In Tackling Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in the Construction Industry, Kortman Electric in Phoenix described using an employee resource care service provider that is based on the chaplaincy model.

What is a Chaplain?

Many chaplains are ordained ministers or are otherwise certified or credentialed. Chaplains provide spiritual care and support services to persons working for non-religious organizations. Historically, chaplains have served in military and paramilitary organizations, such as police and fire departments, as well as in hospitals, prisons and some community-based social service organizations and nonprofits. 

Chaplains generally serve in a non-denominational capacity and among populations with multiple, diverse religions represented including those without a spiritual background. Chaplains in the workplace are trained to serve all people equally. Chaplains have experience providing care and support to workers. Many chaplains provide support to communities recovering from natural disasters and workforces affected by traumatic incidents. 

What Are the Similarities Between EAPs and the Chaplaincy Model?

There are important similarities between EAPs and the chaplaincy model, including: 

  • commitments by the employer to provide employees care and support; 
  • bound by duties of privacy and confidentiality;
  • available 24/7, 365 days per year;
  • intended for employees, spouses and dependents;
  • free of cost to employee;
  • accessible to all regardless of faith or denomination;
  • reachable via phone, text/chat, email and by app; and
  • able to be measured with performance metrics, such as utilization rate and personal and organizational impacts, including financial return on investment.

Importantly, there are different service levels available through both services and too many variables to provide generalized information about pricing and total cost for each service. Major factors to consider include (but may not be limited to) service initiation fees, price per employee per month, pricing for specialized or customized services, and travel-related costs associated with services. 

Major Benefits Available Though Chaplaincy

For companies choosing the chaplaincy model, leadership reports appreciating a high degree of personal touches by having regular on-site visits by chaplains to meet with employees. To these leaders, the chaplains are extensions of the companies’ caring cultures and desire to demonstrate concern for the well-being of employees and families. Leaders using chaplaincy express the heavy emphasis of building personal on-site relationships with workers is a major benefit of chaplaincy. 

Many companies using chaplaincy report high levels of engagement between employees and chaplains, frequently ranging between 40-60%. Many employees are more receptive to engaging with chaplains versus calling a 1-800 number and talking with a counselor. In the chaplaincy model, referrals to counselors are frequently made after a relationship with the employee has been established. Leaders using chaplains report they believe this approach help employees and peers address challenges earlier or more upstream before relationship, financial, legal, mental health or substance misuse issues turn more problematic. 

Moreover, with some chaplaincy models employees may have the option of connecting with chaplains through a secure app and can reach chaplains also via phone, text, email as well as video chat. In these ways, employees do not feel "forced" to share a concern with a chaplain at work but rather can connect with the chaplain after hours at their convenience and without having to compromise their work time to connect with a chaplain. 


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