Sometimes the best way for employees to develop an appreciation of what they have is to take a closer look at what other people have. I would like to introduce to one program that does just that.
Employee engagement is not only concerned with aligning employees to the goals and objectives of their organizations. Engagement can be just as much about aligning their hearts to the organization’s vision, a vision we hope has a Kingdom impact. Employees who perceive a greater good in what is being done in addition to their daily roles have a greater sense of purpose and satisfaction. All of us, at one time or another, have experienced that longing for a true sense of purpose. Having an engagement program that helps employees fill that void will benefit not only the organization, but also the world we live in.
Imagine a company that generates an impact not simply on one child’s life but an entire village.
Meet Elexio. Elexio makes a difference, not just in their Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania community, but also in Honduras. Today, we’ll talk to Jeff Hostetter, the CEO of Elexio, to learn more about their commitment to community,
Mark: Greetings, Jeff. It’s an honor to spend time with you this morning. We know already that you have a wonderful story to tell us about how you impact the world through employee engagement. But, first, please tell me a little bit about you, how you came to occupy your role as CEO of Elexio, and a little bit about the history of Elexio.
Jeff: Thanks, Mark. It’s a privilege to talk with you. I’m a simple guy who wants Christ to use him for His glory. Diane and I have been married for 24 years and have an 18-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. In high school, I took two years of computer programming and got a job as a software developer at the age of 18. Software has been the track I’ve been on ever since. Along the way, support, sales, and leadership crossed my software path, and then, in 2008, I was asked to become CEO of Elexio. Elexio began in 2002 and, in 2009, we merged People Driven Software into Elexio.
Elexio provides church software for people to come to know Jesus. Exclusively for churches, we have a database, check-in, website CMS, mobile, and giving—all integrated. We help churches in all fifty states and in thirty-two countries. God continues to amaze us with what He has in store for us.
Mark: That’s a great story. I’m always intrigued by how organizations develop, grow, and change over time—how it all comes together. Let’s talk about the organization you support. What organization is it and when did you start supporting them?
Jeff: We have a strategic partnership with Compassion International that began in the fall of 2010.
Mark: Out of curiosity, why did you choose Compassion? Tell us a little bit about your selection process.
Jeff: I created a profile of the type of Kingdom-minded organization we were looking for, and then worked with our other leaders to finalize the profile. I shared it with our entire staff to ensure they had a picture of the ideal organization. Our criteria included items like: make a big impact in one location rather than a small impact in many places, involve our staff in more than just giving money, and to avoid being self-serving in any way, to name a few. I asked our staff to submit recommendations for organizations, and Compassion was the most highly recommended.
When I contacted Compassion and learned they had an established initiative for strategic partnerships with businesses, and that they matched our profile and beyond, I knew God was at work and this was meant to be.
Mark: How many children did your company ultimately sponsor?
Jeff: Praise God, we currently sponsor thirty-five children, all in the same church and community! We also work with the pastor of that local church, which partners with Compassion and cares for 225 children altogether. In 2012, through Compassion, we sponsored a Leadership Development Program (LDP) student.
Her name is Arely, and someone had sponsored her through Compassion in her younger years. Now we are sponsoring Arely through college at the University of Honduras, where she majors in computer science. Arely loves the church, computers, and software, so we have a lot in common.
Mark: Besides sponsoring children, in what other ways have you worked to tie employee engagement into this process?
Jeff: We have a big vision for this, so a few years ago we began inviting our staff to go to Honduras to meet their sponsored child. As giving money is available, we send a team to Honduras to visit our kids, their families, the church partner, and the pastor. We are hoping that, when it is time for Arely to do an internship, she can do her internship at Elexio, so that our staff can invest even more into Arely and growing her in her field.
Mark: Tell me how you engage employees to support Compassion.
Jeff: First, we setup a co-sponsorship where the staff person pays half of the monthly sponsorship and Elexio pays the other half. Sponsoring a child only costs $38 per month, so the staff member pays half, $19 per month. Since we pay our staff twice a month, it’s only $9.50 from each paycheck.
It’s an outstanding return for the investment. Also, a security wall was needed to protect the children, so Elexio decided to match dollar for dollar, the total of what our staff donated. Our staff raised $2000 so Elexio added another $2000 on top of that. Now, the security wall has been built and is protecting our sponsored children in the community. We have also helped our Honduran community get clean water and upgrade their electric service.
Mark: Many leaders miss the effect that positive employee engagement activities can have on an organization. Tell us in what ways your organization has been impacted by having adopted these types of employee engagement activities.
Jeff: It gives us another thing in common that we can rally around, share, and talk with each other about. Our team knows that, beyond the work they do at Elexio, they are making a difference in another country and, more important, in someone else’s life. Our team members write their children letters and also receive letters. It’s life changing for each child.
When a trip is coming and our staff has the opportunity to go or send gifts to their children, there is a buzz in the office because of the encouragement it will be to our long distance family in Honduras. As far as the gifts we send along, it is tough to manage our people’s generosity. It’s a good problem to have.
Mark: What suggestions do you have for other organizations that are interested in adopting policies of employee engagement in order to make a difference in the world?
Jeff: Create a profile of what an ideal employee engagement might look like for your team and make sure there’s nothing about it that’s self-serving or a marketing tactic. Involve your team in the process and strategic planning. Focus on fewer initiatives and make a big impact in those initiatives. This also builds momentum. Remember, it’s not an expense, it’s an investment, so put time and capital into it. God may surprise you with the ROI.
Mark: Jeff, thanks so much for spending the time and sharing your insights with us today, despite your busy schedule. We do appreciate it. By sharing this, we hope to encourage other great organizations to follow your example, and to build Kingdom-minded organizations through their human resources practices, encouraging activities with meaningful aspects, like solid employee engagement programs such as yours.
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