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Q&A with Donna Mostiller

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By Marisa Geitner

In October, we welcomed Donna Mostiller as our senior vice president of people and culture. She is deeply immersed in learning about work and life here at Heritage Christian Services, and she is listening intently to our employees getting to know their different voices. Enjoy my Q&A blog with Donna as we learn from her fresh perspective.

Marisa: What people and culture trends are we seeing in human services work?

Donna: In human services, as in other parts of the labor market, the need to provide a safe work environment for employees is critical. Now that we are still in the pandemic, all employers have to balance the desire to provide in-person services to customers and the need to provide a safe environment for workers. This is especially true in human services where so much work is done face-to-face.

Additionally, there is greater emphasis on increasing wages. Employees who have greater financial stability are more likely to have better access to quality health care, child care, transportation and housing. We know that making changes in the wages for those who work in human services, strengthens our communities, employees’ families and the relationship between employees and employers. Unfortunately, many human service agencies lack the resources to make substantial changes in earnings for their workers, and this has the potential for negative consequences for others in our communities who need human services.

There is also a greater emphasis on social justice issues, with a particular focus on racial equity. The numerous issues that are being played out in our larger society have challenged many in the human services area to closely examine their own policies, procedures and programs to ensure that racism and bias, whether implicit or not, are eliminated. This work, while often challenging and difficult has the benefit of creating workplace environments that are truly diverse, equitable and inclusive.

 

Marisa: What early observations have you made about the culture at Heritage Christian Services?

Donna: My initial impression of the culture is that it is truly welcoming. I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of the homes of people who the agency supports. I have been truly touched by how they made me feel welcome. The staff who work in these homes are also very welcoming and this has helped me feel a stronger connection to the mission of this organization.

The welcoming doesn’t end with the residential programs. Employees from across the agency have reached out to me to assist with a number of things – the types of things that you have to become familiar with when you start a new job. I believe that these informal expressions of welcome have made my transition into this new role much smoother than I had hoped.

I would also add that there is a commitment to the values of the organization – Christian compassion, courage, entrepreneurship, excellence, honesty and humor. Additionally, the staff approaches their work with a high level of professionalism that facilitates relationships based on credibility and trust. This would seem to be very important to those who receive services at Heritage Christian and their families.

              

Marisa: What factors in our country are affecting job satisfaction and what advice do you have to address the challenges?

Donna: I believe that people are truly interesting and complex beings and when we have the opportunity to work with them we should be mindful of this. Basically, people are more than the roles they have at work and for many years that is how employers interacted with employees – strictly on that level. I think we are learning that employees want employers to appreciate and respect that they have many roles outside of work. As employers, this challenges us to examine our policies and practices to allow employees to spend time with their families, to participate in holidays that align with their religious beliefs and cultural norms, and to dress in a manner that is authentic to who they are as individuals. These are just a few ways in which employers are being encouraged to reexamine the work relationship and to allow for employees to bring their true and full selves to work.

 

Marisa: In your experience, how does one find joy in one’s job?

Donna: I think that the first step in finding joy in one’s job is to start with a grateful heart. In every job, there is something to appreciate. I have found that focusing on these few things will provide you with the energy and fortitude to find joy at work.