GuideStone Financial Services restructures its workforce

GuideStone Financial Resources has realigned certain job responsibilities and restructured its workforce as part of its effort to identify and implement new ways to become more efficient. It also announced last month three new executive officers promoted from within the organization.

The restructuring dovetails GuideStone's update to its long-range plan, GuideStone 100, and flows from the 2015 theme "Year of Efficiency," when the Southern Baptist Convention entity sought new efficiencies in people, processes and policies. And the changes come as the entity looks to carry the ministry to its centennial in 2018, and beyond 2020.

"These steps we have taken will enable us to further enhance our ministry as we prepare to enter the second century of our service to Southern Baptists, while maintaining optimum staffing levels going forward," GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said in an Aug. 15 news release.

This past spring, GuideStone offered an early voluntary retirement option to qualified employees 55 years of age or older. Fifty-nine individuals—about half those eligible and about 10 percent of GuideStone employees—chose the early retirement package.

Nine employees were unable to be accommodated in open positions and were offered severance packages. Many positions were combined or redeployed, and many other employees were reassigned to open positions.

Opportunities to improve efficiency were identified and implemented throughout the organization, including streamlining employee hiring and training, renegotiating energy contracts and bulk mailing services, and adjusting medical group sizes to help assist more churches.

Citing a market environment that continues to be evidenced by low interest rates and sluggishness in the economic recovery, Hawkins noted GuideStone's commitment to its participants.

"The balance between ministry and God-honoring business practices is what we deal with every day," Hawkins said. "In maintaining this balance we are guided by our mission statement, drawn from Psalm 78:72, that reminds us we are 'serving those who serve the Lord with the integrity of our hearts and the skillfulness of our hands.'"

Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones echoed those sentiments.

"We take the stewardship of our ministry seriously," Jones said. "GuideStone at its heart is a ministry that adopts best business practices."

Restructuring

As GuideStone participants have indicated a desire for a more self-serve, internet-based operation, internal reviews found ways of reducing the workforce without adversely impacting services.

To increase efficiency, management reduced the number of printed account statements and mailing expenses the entity incurred and worked with insurance vendors to reduce consulting costs for GuideStone's insurance plan.

Several department responsibilities shifted during the restructuring, including the Customer Service Center, which was merged with the Retirement and Insurance areas to provide continued excellent service.

GuideStone previously reduced its headcount in 2008-09 through a combination of attrition and a similar voluntary retirement program.

The addition of three new executive officers from within GuideStone ranks, announced during the entity's July 25-26 trustee meeting, was part of the restructuring.

Mark Borchgardt, with GuideStone since 1996, was named chief services and operations officer; Harry Nelson, who joined GuideStone in 2013, was named chief strategic investment officer; and Harold Loftin, also with the entity since 2013, was named chief legal officer and general counsel.

"One of our ongoing goals at GuideStone is to provide a means to grow our staff in their career paths," Hawkins said. "These promotions from within our ranks help demonstrate our commitment to providing our employees with a path of upward mobility in their careers.

"These additions to our Executive Leadership Team have been enthusiastically embraced by our staff," Hawkins said, "and we look forward to the contributions they will make to further strengthening our ministry at GuideStone."

In his new position, Borchgardt oversees day-to-day service, operations and quality initiatives, and leads customer service teams and product management for retirement and insurance. In his 20 years with the entity, he has served in a variety of positions, including financial reporting, retirement and investment product development, and strategic planning.

Nelson, GuideStone's former executive director of investments sales, has a 25-year tenure in the financial services industry.

Loftin, who had served as general counsel since August 2014, came to GuideStone with more than 11 years of experience as a trial lawyer and is currently pursuing a master of theology degree at Dallas Theological Seminary.

These promotions come just more than a year after the elevation of Kim Walthall to chief financial officer in 2015 following her 20 years with the entity.

"GuideStone is always seeking to have best-in-class employees and vendors serving our participants," Hawkins said. "All four of these promotions from within our team help illustrate the best-in-class staff we recruit, develop and grow and serve as a reminder to all of our staff that we are committed to their development as professionals in service to our participants.

"Our vision, which reminds us that we 'exist to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security' has always guided and continues to guide our ministry, our mission and our methodology as we seek to serve those who serve the Lord."

Timothy E. Head is executive officer of denominational and public relations services at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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