Having the right people makes all the difference, wouldn't you agree?
After all, pregnancy centers are in the business of offering compassion, hope, and help to people who feel trapped into considering abortion. Our relationship with clients isn't transactional -- give me money and I'll give you a product or service -- it's transformational. Over and over, we hear from clients: "I wasn't just a number to my advocate; she/he really cared."
That care makes a real difference in people's lives. The results we see can't simply be bought and paid for. And every team member in every role, whether employee or volunteer, whether providing direct client care or not, impacts the effectiveness of the pregnancy center in accomplishing its mission.
That makes it all the more essential that when you find the right people, you keep them. As a patient resources director at my center, I found that the best way to retain my new team members was through a thorough and engaging onboarding process. Here are my top three onboarding priorities for every new employee or volunteer:
Let's break those down.
Exultation -- this is all about celebrating your new team member and praising God for them; not just initially but at every major milestone. It may start with a breakfast or lunch to welcome them but it doesn't end there. As a team leader, you look for opportunities to notice their successes, remember their birthday and their work or volunteer anniversary, and express regular appreciation that they are part of the team.
Enculturation -- this is nothing less than them joining us. The new person is recognized as being called by God to the center and becoming part of the team. Successful enculturation is the process through which the new volunteer or employee adopts the mission, vision, and values of the team. In order to do that, she or he must gain an appreciation for the history of the pregnancy center movement, be able to not just articulate but empathize with the challenges faced by clients, and share a sense of camaraderie with the rest of the team.
Experience -- there must be a systematic process for helping the staff member or volunteer to make contributions according to the requirements of their role. As the team member gains concrete experience, she or he will learn about the policies and systems used by the center. The new team member will also make contributions to the center's work and will be evaluated based on those contributions.
Each of these priorities impacts the other. As our team members gain experience and are evaluated based on their contributions, we are also celebrating their successes and deepening their sense of connection to the team, which, again, is enculturation.
Care Net can help with successfully onboarding your new team members in several ways.
To start with, Care Net affiliates can access sample onboarding checklists for paid staff and for volunteers through our affiliate portal. Each of these checklists is fully customizable based on the priorities of your center and the role being filled by the new team member.
And, our easy to use Caring Foundations course is available for any pregnancy center, regardless of affiliation status. There's even an option for creating a cohort just for your team members. Its perfect for introducing your new staff, as well as prospective volunteers and board members, to the history and values of life-affirming pregnancy centers. Here's what a few center team members are saying about their experience with this course:
I really liked all the aspects of this course. The mix of different teachers, keeping each lesson concise (not long & drawn out). Switching things up between listening & activities. Best Care Net training I've done in over 10 years. - Carol, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator at Abigail Pregnancy Services
I am new - this is my first week - so everything was new, meaningful and useful to me. I love the strong biblical foundation the training is built upon! -- Anonymous Volunteer
It was a great overview for a new volunteer to learn the foundation of what we believe and stand for as a Center, and a great reminder for those who have been serving long-term to check in with why they still commit time to volunteering at the Center. A great reality check either way. -- Michelle, Client Services Coordinator at Alternatives Pregnancy Center
However you plan and conduct your onboarding, remember those important priorities: exultation, enculturation, and experience. As you do this, you'll get lots of opportunities to see what God is doing in and through your team. As a bonus, your team members are likely to experience a higher degree of satisfaction in their role and a greater degree of commitment to your organization.