Despite secularism growing in America, with research showing there are around five million fewer Christians across the United States than there were in 2007, faith-based companies continue to thrive. In fact, a study conducted in 2013 indicated that entrepreneurs in the United States meditate more frequently than non-entrepreneurs. The United States has a rich history of business owners operating their companies in line with their religious beliefs. Some of the nation’s biggest and most popular brands, such as In-N-Out Burger, Forever 21 and Hobby Lobby, share a devotion to religious values.
That said, faith based companies are not without their challenges, which they have to overcome. Small Business Trends interviewed Patrick Galleher CEO of sweetFrog. Galleher acquired sweetFrog in 2015 and despite tough competition in the frozen yogurt market, Patrick Galleher and his team have helped build the brand into a household name, with 340 locations in 24 states in just two years. Galleher gave us some insight into how faith based companies can overcome their unique challenges. Here are his faith based business tips.
Faith Based Business Tips
Avoid Trying to Convert
Faith based business owners and members of staff may enjoy talking about their religious beliefs. Whilst openly sharing beliefs and the Gospel with others may be apparent in many faith based businesses, as Galleher told us, it is important for such organizations to try and avoid converting the beliefs of employees or customers, something sweetFrog has always strived to avoid.
Practice Inclusive Recruitment
Faith based businesses may be inclined to employ individuals of the same faith. However, employment discrimination on the basis of religion limits a company’s hiring prospects. Galleher says sweetFrog’s recruitment policies are centered on being inclusive, instead of discriminating based on a candidate’s religious status.
Give Equal Treatment of Employees
Employment law prohibits different treatment based on religion. sweetFrog also prides itself on ensuring all employees are treated equally, regardless of their religious beliefs. Respecting the opinions and mandates of others, by providing equal treatment to all employees, demonstrates a faith-based business’s commitment to a culture of inclusion.
Create a Positive Community
Companies, secular or religious, have a duty to strive to contribute to create a positive, happy community.
sweetFrog was founded on Christian principles and maintains a commitment to bring a positive attitude into the lives of communities by providing a family-friendly environment, where customers can enjoy frozen yogurt without having their religious beliefs scrutinized, judged or questioned.
Respect the Views of Others
Customers may be disapproving of a faith-based company’s principles. By respecting all faiths and avoiding attempts to covert or judge customers, faith based businesses can cultivate a mutually respectful culture with their customers.
As Patrick Galleher said, by operating on a culture of inclusiveness, unhappy customers have never created any real problems.
Be Inclusive with Decision Making
Another challenge faith-based businesses may be faced with is related to decision making. For example, deciding what music to play in a store may be a specific decision-based challenge for organizations with strong religious principles.
Centering such decisions around community involvement can be an effective way to overcome certain decision making challenges. Asking customers what type of music, for example, they would like played in stores, makes decision making easy.
Be Respectful of the Sabbath
Many businesses operate on the Sabbath, the day the bible says: “God’s people were told to rest on the seventh day of every week.” Whether Sabbath is on Saturday or Sunday, deciding whether to operate on the Sabbath day is a challenge many modern faith based businesses are faced with.
The decision on whether or not to operate on Sabbath days ultimately falls into the hands of the employer, with the faith beliefs of others should be respected at all times.
Provide Time to Pray
Some religions require followers to pray at specific times throughout the day, which can be a challenge for many businesses. Acting compassionately by discussing prayer requirements with employees and allowing members of staff to pray at times that are both reasonable and practical for the business, will help create a sympathetic culture towards prayer.
Provide a Place to Pray
Faith based organizations may also be faced with the challenge of providing an appropriate, quiet place for staff to carry out their religious observance. Dedicating a specific area of the work premises as a place to pray will ensure all staff members have a quiet place built for worship throughout the day.
Support Fasting Staff
Faith based businesses may require extended periods of fasting, which could present its own set of challenges. Supporting staff through such periods, whilst avoiding placing unreasonable burdens on other non-fasting workers which may create conflict between members of staff, will help organizations and their workers get through periods of fasting smoothly and without problems.
Do you run or work for a faith-based business and have any experiences of challenges you have faced and overcome? If so, we would love to hear our readers’ experiences.
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