“The purposes of Church welfare are to help members become self-reliant, to care for the poor and needy, and to give service.
“In 1936 the First Presidency outlined a welfare plan for the Church. They said: ‘Our primary purpose was to set up . . . a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership’ (in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, 3).
“Self-reliance is the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family. As members become self-reliant, they are also better able to serve and care for others.
“Church members are responsible for their own spiritual and temporal well-being. Blessed with the gift of agency, they have the privilege and duty to set their own course, solve their own problems, and strive to become self-reliant. Members do this under the inspiration of the Lord and with the labor of their own hands. . . .
“Work is the foundation upon which self-reliance and temporal well-being rest. Members should prepare for and carefully select a suitable occupation or self-employment that will provide for their own and their families’ needs. They should become skilled at their work, be diligent and trustworthy, and give honest work for the pay and benefits they receive” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 6.1–6.1.1).
Elder M. Russell Ballard warned us to avoid “needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. . . . The instruction to magnify our callings is not a command to embellish and complicate them. To innovate does not necessarily mean to expand; very often it means to simplify. . . . What is most important in our Church responsibilities,” he said, “is not the statistics that are reported or the meetings that are held but whether or not individual people—ministered to one at a time just as the Savior did—have been lifted and encouraged and ultimately changed” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2006, 17, 19; or Ensign, Nov. 2006, 18–20.)
1.2 Purpose of This Guide
Congratulations on your assignment to work in an LDS Employment Resource Center (ERC). This guide has been prepared to help you understand your responsibilities. Please read this guide carefully and refer to it as questions arise.
The intent of this guide is to help outline the strategy, purposes, policies, processes, and procedures for operating professional and volunteer centers. It serves as a companion to e-learning and to Policy Point.
This guide contains the most current, up-to-date Employment Resource Services (ERS) policies. Technical updates are regularly incorporated into the guide (see section 1.7, “Additional Resources and Technical Updates”).
This guide is a strategic guide for ERCs throughout the world. Individual centers may have some specific local office procedures, but when there is conflict between those procedures and this operations guide, default to this guide. Remember that the main focus of ERS is people—not office procedures.
1.3 Purpose of LDS Employment Resource Services
Elder Robert D. Hales teaches, “Self-reliance is taking responsibility for our own spiritual and temporal welfare,” (“Seek and Attain the Spiritual High Ground in Life” [Church Educational System fireside for young adults, Mar. 1, 2009], ldsces.org). Individuals can become more responsible for their own welfare and overcome barriers to employment through the guidance of local Church leaders and the services of the ERC.
LDS Employment Resource Services consults with priesthood leaders; develops employment, education, and self-employment resources; and coaches members to achieve self-reliance.
This guiding purpose is achieved by following these principles:
- Consult with priesthood leaders served by the center to learn of the needs in their units and provide them with information on the center’s services (see section 3.3, “LDSJobs, Church Leaders, and Specialists”; section 6, “Training for Stake and Ward Leaders”; and section 7, “Serving on the Agent Stake Operating Committee”).
- Develop employment, education, and self-employment resources in the local community (see section 3.4, “LDSJobs and Resources,” and section 4, “Resource Development”).
- Coach members to achieve self-reliance through mentoring and individualized employment services (see section 2, “Standard Services”; section 3.2, “LDSJobs and Candidates”; and section 8, “Teaching in the ERC”).
What Church Leaders Can Expect from ERS
Church leaders can expect that ERS staff is available to consult and coordinate with them as they help their members obtain jobs or become self-employed. LDSJobs.org facilitates these efforts by providing candidate information, progress notes, and resource notes. LDSJobs is a tremendous resource for learning job search strategies, accessing job postings and networking leads, and developing career plans.
What Candidates Can Expect from ERS
Candidates can expect that ERS will provide coaching until adequate employment is obtained. Candidates can also expect ERS to provide help and resources for education programs, if needed, for their career plans. Standard services such as workshops and one-on-one coaching can be helpful whether a candidate is chronically underemployed or highly placeable.
LDSJobs.org places a tremendous amount of resources at the fingertips of candidates, providing job postings and networking leads, job search strategies, and other assistance. Also, LDSJobs enables candidates to communicate what assistance they would like to have to their leaders and the ERC staff.
What Resources Can Expect from ERS
Resources are categorized into four primary groups: employers, schools, self-employment organizations, and other community resources. These resources can expect ERS to help them find qualified people who can benefit from their organizations.
Resources can expect ERS staff to act professionally and help them connect with candidates. One way ERC staff does this is to maintain a database of candidate profiles on LDSJobs.org. ERS represents candidates and resources through ERCs and LDSJobs.
1.4 What Falls Outside of ERS Services
ERS strives to use programs and resources that are already available in the community instead of duplicating them with their own. Using resources outside of ERS is beneficial because it is more sustainable and can increase opportunities available to candidates. Many candidates need skills and training that are not included in ERS standard services, but it is the center’s responsibility to identify these resources—not become the resource (see section 4, “Resource Development”).
Occasionally there is confusion about what services the ERC does and does not offer. Listed below are services not provided by the ERC:
- Career, job, or life skills training (for example, typing, languages, computer skills, debt reduction, or other livelihood training programs). Instead, the ERC offers training for job searching, career planning, and developing networking leads.
- Loans for educational or small business purposes.
- Promotional or marketing services for members’ career pursuits or businesses.
The ERC’s focus should be on the guiding purpose of ERS: to help members obtain jobs or become self-employed to provide for themselves and their families. The purpose of any education or training should be to further a candidate’s employability. Education is a means to an end—not the end itself.
For information on what ERS does offer, see section 2, “Standard Services.” You should not implement new services. If you have suggestions for filling gaps in service offerings, consider the following questions before discussing your suggestions with headquarters staff:
- How does this service fit within the ERS guiding purpose?
- Is there already a quality organization in the community that provides this service to members in need?
- Is this really something that ERS could be the very best at providing?
- Is the service sustainable? If my mission or service ended tomorrow, would the program or service continue?
For boundary information for ERCs that are not directly supervised by ERS headquarters, see Boundaries.
1.5 Adapting for Volunteer ERCs
Elder Richard G. Scott said: “Adjust your activities to be consistent with your local conditions and resources. . . . Make sure that the essential needs are met, but do not go overboard in creating so many good things to do that the essential ones are not accomplished. . . . Remember, don’t magnify the work to be done—simplify it” (“The Doctrinal Foundation of the Auxiliaries,” Ensign, Aug. 2005, 62, 67).
A volunteer ERC has similar functions to a professional ERC, but it is staffed by local Church-service missionaries, full-time missionaries, and volunteers. Without the staff of a professional ERC, a volunteer ERC may need to cut some services and focus on the essentials that are most needed in the area. For example, some areas may need to focus more on the Self-Employment Workshop if there are few jobs available in the area. Discuss your ERC’s needs with your paid manager before cutting any programs.
For more information on volunteer ERCs, see section 5.3, “Volunteer Employment Centers.”
1.6 Additional Resources and Technical Updates
Periodically, changes will be made to ERS policy. The technical updates for the current year that are sent through e-mail will be available in section 25 of this guide. The information from the new technical updates will be incorporated into the guide as quickly as possible, and each year the technical updates will be deleted from section 25.