Ward Councils: Responding to Employment Needs
Good employment is a gateway to self-reliance and can affect many areas of a person’s life. It not only allows members to adequately provide for their families’ temporal needs, but it also enables them to have the time to serve faithfully in the Church. When members are seeking to find or improve employment, they may be suffering financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
As a member of the ward council, you can help those in your ward who are struggling with employment needs. “All members of the ward council have a general responsibility for the well-being of ward members” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 4.4). As council members “strive to stay informed about the needs, well-being, and spiritual progress of members in their organizations,” as well as “members who face special challenges or changing circumstances” (Handbook 2, 4.5.1), they will strengthen the ward as a whole.
Bishop Richard C. Edgley taught, “Opportunities abound, and yours is the opportunity and responsibility of marshaling the Lord’s resources” (“This Is Your Phone Call,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 53). The ward council should take the lead in identifying needs in the ward and connecting struggling job seekers to tools and resources. By regularly addressing employment needs in the ward council, wards can meet immediate and long-term employment needs and can help members develop plans for challenges that might arise in the future.
What Types of Employment Needs Might Exist in My Ward?
A job seeker might need assistance if he or she is:
- laid off or fired
- struggling to keep a job
- in and out of jobs
- not making enough money
- not using all of his or her talents and skills
- unhappy with his or her job
- seeking to make a change in his or her career
- in a field or with a company that is struggling economically
- a recent graduate
- a recently returned missionary
- wanting to return to the workforce
- missing Church meetings because of work
What Can Ward Council Members Do?
As you work with job seekers, help them discover their talents, set goals, and find resources to develop a path to continued vocational success. Express your love to them and help them feel hope as they work through the job search process or as they seek additional educational or self-employment opportunities. Create a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment for members who are struggling with employment.
Members of the ward council might review the following suggestions for ideas about how they can better support the employment needs in their ward.
Prepare to help job seekers.
- Learn about employment principles such as how to write a résumé, network, and answer interview questions.
- Learn about community resources for employment help, such as networking groups or government agencies.
- Review the counsel in Ministering Resources: Employment and in Bishop Richard C. Edgley’s talk “This Is Your Phone Call” (Ensign or Liahona, May 2009, 53–55).
- Counsel with other leaders in the stake about how they support employment needs.
Identify employment needs.
- Regularly discuss employment needs in ward council meetings.
- Receive and review regular reports from the Leader and Clerk Resources website.
- Invite members to share the employment opportunities they are seeking in Relief Society, quorum, or group meetings or on ward and stake social media pages.
Address employment needs.
- Assign a mentor to each job seeker.
- Meet with each job seeker to develop a job-search plan.
- Refer job seekers to an LDS employment center.
- When you hear about job opportunities, add them to the LDSJobs database.
- Organize a Career Workshop for ward or stake members.
What Responsibilities Do Specific Ward Council Members Have?
Each bishop has a mandate to seek out the poor, provide them temporary assistance, and coordinate with the ward council to meet long-term needs. The bishop can address employment needs by discussing them as a regular part of ward council and inviting the employment specialist to report on employment efforts. As the council discusses needs in the ward, the bishop can make assignments and follow up on items from the above list.
Quorum and Relief Society Presidents
Group leaders and quorum and Relief Society presidents also have the responsibility to assist job seekers with employment needs. Leaders and presidents should regularly review ward employment matters and discuss them in ward council meetings.
The ward employment specialist supports job seekers who are struggling with employment needs. Employment specialists should counsel with the bishop as well as the leaders of the high priests group, elders quorum, and Relief Society about how they can assist job seekers. Employment specialists meet regularly with job seekers to provide coaching, encouragement, and suggestions of resources, companies, and mentors they can reach out to.