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SDN adds chaplain service to benefits available to employees

John Warden talking with employee at a desk

John Warden is among the communication experts who roams the corridors at SDN Communications’ two-building headquarters in western Sioux Falls.

He’s not a broadband specialist. He’s not a sales executive. His specialty is spiritual care.

Warden is a chaplain SDN hired to work a few hours every week providing on-site pastoral care and short-term counseling to employees who seek his help dealing with the stresses of life.

Data suggests that job stress costs U.S. businesses hundreds of billions of dollars per year in areas such as employee absenteeism, turnover and reduced productivity. Warden is available to help staff members deal with situations caused by challenges ranging from a family member’s illness or death to conflicts with friends or colleagues in the workplace.

“Stress is a reality in work. I’m here to be a resource for employees any way they need it,” Warden said. “It’s kind of the whole gamut of what they’re facing in their families to their work relationships.”

Warden provides the service at SDN as a part-time employee of Corporate Care of the Sioux Empire, an organization that provides chaplaincy services to a dozen companies in the Sioux Falls area. The companies that Corporate Care assists collectively employ more than 1,300 people.

In addition to his part-time work as a chaplain at SDN and at another organization, Warden works part-time as director of global missions at the Life Church in Sioux Falls. His primary job is serving as the global staff pastor for Reconciled World, a Christian mission organization. He estimates that he works about 45 hours a week in the three jobs combined.

Chaplain talking with employee in cubicle

He spends about four hours every Thursday at SDN and two hours a week with another chaplain client. At SDN, he has an office he can use when needed, but he doesn’t confine himself to it. If he doesn’t have an appointment to consult with someone, he’s likely walking around and chatting with people.

“So much of chaplaincy is building trust with people so that when a challenge or crisis comes, they will feel comfortable coming to see me,” he said.

Like other chaplains from Corporate Care, Warden operates from the perspective of a Christian pastor. However, people of any religious belief are welcome to meet with him.

“We welcome anyone to come and talk to us and share the challenges they’re facing in life,” he said.

Warden is one of three chaplains – and one of two part-timers – available through Corporate Care, which was founded by Pastor James Swanson in 2013.

Warden grew up in Ohio and met his wife, Jennie, at Huntington University in Indiana. She’s a nurse. The couple has two daughters, ages 9 and 12. Jennie is a South Dakota native, which is what attracted the Warden family to South Dakota after John’s professional stints in Cincinnati and in the South American country of Bolivia.

Amy Preator, human resources director at SDN, heard about Corporate Care’s chaplain service and initiated contact with the company. Warden began making regular stops at SDN last September.

SDN employees have been very welcoming, Warden said. “It’s been a blessing to be part of this company and help any way that I can,” he said.

Preator said that Warden’s on-site availability is an employee benefit offered in addition to the professional counseling services available through SDN’s Employee Assistance Program. In addition to helping provide for the physical well-being of its employees, the company wants to help its team members with their emotional and spiritual needs, she said.

Employees are drawn to Warden, Preator said.

“He’s got such a good heart. He’s been incredible,” she said. “He’s been able to bring a sense of peace to a lot of stressful situations.”

SDN Communications is a leader in providing business internet, private networking and cloud connectivity to businesses and organizations in communities such as Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Worthington, and the surrounding areas.