This week’s story isn’t just about how weekly blizzard-like conditions warm the hearts of 185 staff members toward their generous employer. It’s more than rewarding work, good salaries and benefits. It’s a story of how lives are changed, and one a very grateful leader loves to tell. . . .
If there’s a Christian leader out there who can leverage a bushel of vision to create a ton of impact for God’s Kingdom, it’s the executive director of the Denver Rescue Mission, Brad Meuli. Recently, Brad let me in on the back-story.
“When I came to the Mission in 1998, I thought it was an incredible place to work. Because our goal is to change the lives of men and women at the point of their physical and spiritual need in the name of Christ, I believed there were ways we could improve.”
The BCWI Employee Engagement Survey confirmed it. The Mission’s staff said to leadership (and each other): “If our work impacts hundreds of homeless men and women for both today and eternity, then we’ve got to improve.”
Brad, a successful banker before he came to the Mission, then said to me, “It’s important to measure where you’re strong – and where you’re not – as an organization, or else you’ll never improve and reach your goal.”
Nothing matches such true conviction except, perhaps, superb follow-through. . . .
To build a healthy, flourishing culture (the critical driver of an organization’s mission and vision), Brad “flipped” the traditional top-down leadership by empowering the Mission’s people from the ground up with new decision-making responsibilities. Senior leadership listened and responded well in three big ways:
1. Fresh Collaboration
The Denver Rescue Mission gets high marks for its sustainable strategy, which generates and sustains a winning organizational effectiveness.
- The Mission offered new training for mid-level managers who wanted to lead more effectively and communicate more clearly.
- “We listened especially to our growing numbers of younger employees, who wisely want to know the rationale and reasons behind decisions,” says Brad.
- They also listened to employees who wanted greater ownership. “We responded by creating cross-departmental task forces that greatly helped dismantle silo mentalities and created trust, efficiency and productivity throughout the ministry.”
2. Rewarding Compensation
“We knew we couldn’t quite match salaries in the marketplace, but we could allow our employees to retire by matching a 401(k) up to 5% of one’s salary. That, plus an annual seniority incentive, gives people an opportunity to invest and to sock away 15% of one’s annual salary.”
Compensation and benefits are even sweeter considering a generous holiday schedule, birthday vacations and an annual day of personal refreshment.
3. Noisy Celebration
Fun, Fun, Fun isn’t just a Beach Boys number one hit. “We intentionally put fun into our culture. We find ways to celebrate. It’s that important,” says Brad. Thus, every Monday is “Thank God It’s Monday,” which means every employee experiences blizzard-like conditions as the entire ministry warms to one of Dairy Queen’s popular ice cream treats.
Annual Staff Day means a big, festive lunch and scads of gift cards bestowed upon employees, along with priceless words of affirmation for the Christ-like attitude and first-rate professionalism for a job well done.
Brad tells me he sees the biggest sustained outcome of the Mission’s healthy culture every day. “My colleagues say, ‘I don’t see my job as coming to work. I’m doing what Christ has called me to do: ‘Bring in the homeless, clothe the naked, feed the poor.’”
Our numbers are pointing in right direction. Even so, the result of an eternally changed life begins with our people, each responsible and accountable, each one valued by who they are, each one compensated well by what they do and making our workplace culture a place where enjoyment and meaning in ministry happens every day.”