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It Pays to Hire Well

Hiring the Right People

"Youth ministry is worth the investment."

In normal business practice, employers want to hire well for the good of their company. Businesses ask: How will we replenish our product without hiring qualified salesmen? The same should go for the Church: how will we evangelize and catechize young people, help them live as disciples of Jesus Christ and remain Catholic into adulthood, without hiring qualified staff to organize and run our ministries to youth? 

So often, Catholic parishes hire one of two people as youth minister: 1. a young adult just out of college with little or no training, ministry experience, or life experience, or 2. a kind-hearted, willing parent of a teen whom we view as the only person we can find for the job but who, again, has no training or experience in ministry. 

It is quite possible that God is calling such people to ministry! However, how you on-board and train these employees will dramatically effect their ability to minister well. Further, while such hires seem financially expedient, they are often quick to leave their position (less than 2 years). Youth Ministry is worth the investment, but hiring someone with training and experience - though more of an up-front financial investment - will yield long-term results both in terms of numbers of persons/families served and also increased stewardship. Its worth it to make the financial leap and invest in a quality youth minister. 

Employee Turnover Costs the Parish

"The cost of turnover is extremely high."

Let's look at some numbers.

The average cost for a medium-sized parish to hire an employee is $4,129, with around 42 days to fill a position and can go upwards of $7,000 depending on the number of applicants. 


The formula most commonly used in business (and a safe estimate if you're trying to budget for a new employee) is that the average total cost for an employee is between 1.25 and 1.4 times the employee's base salary. 

Additionally it can take up to six months or more for a company to break even on its investment in a new hire.  Here is the productivity scale into broken into three periods:

  • Roughly the first month: After training is completed, new employees are functioning at about 25% productivity, which means that the cost of lost productivity is 75% of the employee's salary.

  • Weeks 5 through 12: The level goes up to 50% productivity, with corresponding cost of 50% of the employee's salary.

  • Weeks 13 through 20: In this timeframe, the employee usually reaches a productivity rate of up to 75%, with the cost being 25% of the employee's salary.

  • Around the five-month mark: Companies can expect a new hire to reach full productivity.


The cost of turnover is extremely high; it's estimated that losing an employee can cost 1.5-2 times the employee's salary. Depending on the individual's level of seniority, the financial burden fluctuates. For hourly workers, it costs an average of $1,500 per employee. 


Employee turnover cost is calculated by taking your vacant position coverage cost plus cost to fill the vacant position plus onboarding & orientation costs plus the productivity ramp-up cost multiplied by the number of employees lost in that position in a given year multiplied by 12 to give you your annual rate. 


By investing in an employee (i.e. training, support, etc.) your cost for the first year would be approximately $1,500 versus the nearly $4,000 cost of hiring a new employee. 

What can I do to hire well and keep costs down?

"Have a plan for the hiring process, from the initial identification of needs through the first year on the job."

Here are five keys to hiring well and keeping your employees:​​

  1. Know your needs and assets. Assess the real needs of your parish community with regards to youth ministry, and identify the assets you have to offer a new youth minister.

  2. Take the time to hire well. Invest in the process and do it right. Know how to hire. Gather people around you who know youth ministry and can help hire the right person. Have a plan for the hiring process, from the initial identification of needs through the first year on the job. 

  3. Welcome your new hire and facilitate their integration into the community. Check out the resource on this website that describes how to on-board your new youth minister well. Introduce them to the staff, the parish at-large, and to the youth ministry community.

  4. Provide direction and mentorship. The new hire should have regular meetings with the pastor and their direct supervisor so they understand the charism of the parish and vision of the pastor. They should also connect with the diocesan youth ministry office and other local youth ministers.

  5. Provide opportunities for training and on-going formation. Keep investing in your new hire during their first months and years. Encourage them to receive youth ministry training and formation in ministry.  This not only reduces the cost of a new hire, it will also yield better ministry to your young parishioners and their families. 

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