Towards a Science of Workplace Spirituality



“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” – H.Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is very important for organizations to keep the inspiration of their employees fueled for better performance and to bridge the gap many companies fail to acknowledge. If spiritual values like integrity, honesty, confidence, and self-discipline are respected by the organization. employees churn out more meaningful work (Javanmard, 2012).

What is Workplace Spirituality?

Workplace spirituality is a movement that started in the early 1920’s. It is a complex and multi-faceted construct and is also termed as WPS. WPS is defined as a framework of organizational values and a spiritual culture that enables employees to connect their inner selves and personal passions with their everyday work.

The theory of spirituality draws on moral values, motivation, work/life balance, and leadership characteristics of an entity. Companies who practice workplace spirituality are concerned with helping their workforce enhance their skills, connect to other employees, and reach their potentials (Garcia‐Zamor, 2003).

Workplace spirituality plays a major role in interconnecting past experiences and developing trust among the individuals in a way that turns the organization into a better and productive environment. WPS also allows organizations to address problems created by work-life conflicts (Giacalone & Jurkiewicz, 2003).

8 Principles of Workplace Spirituality

1. Spirituality is Creativity

2. Spirituality is Communication

3. Spirituality is Respect

4. Spirituality is Vision

5. Spirituality is Partnership

6. Spirituality is Energy

7. Spirituality is Flexibility

8. Spirituality is Morale

Spirituality is Creativity

Workplace spirituality is a significant tool in creating an energizing work atmosphere.  A spiritual workplace offers resources to help the workforce unwrap their creative abilities and to practice creativity within the entity. Workplace spirituality respects and values the experiences of people and includes employees who bring suitable skill sets to a particular job (Petchsawang & Duschon, 2012)

Spirituality is Communication

“The quality of a person’s life is dictated by the quality of their communication.”– Ken Dyers

Association between spiritual workplace and organizational communication is of extreme value. Organizational communication contributes to the legitimacy of workplace spirituality. By highlighting the connections among entity communication concepts (power and control, management, network collaborations, and company work culture) and spirituality in the place of work, importance and honor is given to the entities that are sustainable, have effective and efficient goals and objectives, that are financially sound, as well as emphasize on greater meaning and purpose. When workplace spirituality includes organizational communication as its foundation, it augments the overall value of the organization (Young, 2011).

Spirituality is Respect

Respect is an important characteristic that carries several meanings. When an individual is taught to respect each other, parents, elderly, teachers, the country’s flag, and different castes, races, religions, and opinions, he will be respectful to everyone at the workplace too (Benefiel, Fry & Geigle, 2014).

Spirituality is Vision

Today’s spiritual organization endeavors to implement a vision which aims to contribute to the welfare of mankind. Spiritually aware workforce considers themselves servants of management, customers, and the community (Sharma & Bharti, 2014).

Spirituality is Partnership

Partnership acknowledges that different individuals have different opinions and beliefs; those distinctions are used as positive factors for broadening the team experience (Verghese, (2008).

Spirituality is Energy

Spiritual energy is the manifestation of heavenly, pure love and, depending on a person’s religion, that love comes from a supreme being, deities or an energy that disregards representation and explanation. It is considered the vital principle of life that connects the soul to the body (Trieschmann, 2001).

Spirituality is Flexibility

Spiritual flexibility is the attribute of being able to bend, to be broad and open-minded, and teachable (Bailly et al, 2018).

Spirituality and Morale

The morale of an employee at a workplace is very important to boost productivity, discourage absenteeism and increase earnings. A significant part of morale is associated with the worker’s potential to keep his spiritual characteristics intact and parallel to his work identity. This view is gaining acceptance among business consultants, white-collared HR professionals, and the mainstream business institutes.

If your spirituality is a significant part of your life, it is only natural for all other areas of your life to be influenced, as well. There is a strong association between body and mind. If your employer restricts your spirituality, it can begin to affect your productivity (Geh, & Tan, 2009).

Recommendations for incorporating spirituality at the Workplace

Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

In order to maintain wellness, organizations have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) in place, that supports the workforce to deal with bereavement, family tensions, stressful life transitions, trauma, and well-being, all of which helps to revive and nurture the soul, body, and mind. In a holistic sense, spirituality, family, psychological and physical health are inextricably interlinked. These characteristics help in improving work/life balance and offer better personal and family stability. As the saying goes, “When life works better, Business works better”, spirituality at the workplace increases productivity (Van Wyk & Terblanche, 2018).

Meditation Breaks

Meditation enhances the focus of practitioners. It is one of the stress management technique to alleviate psychological anxiety and obtain clarity in reasoning. By encouraging the workforce to practice yoga and meditation, a company can assist them to broaden their self- awareness levels, get a thorough understanding of their role, acknowledge their contribution and understand the influence they have on others at the place of work (Altaf & Awan, 2011).

Benefits of meditation in the workplace include:

– Increased work engagement

– Job satisfaction

– Enhanced work performance

– Health benefits like improved sleep quality and mental ability

Meditation practice enhances individuals’ tendency for compassion and empathy, that can result in long-term minimization in choices that lead to corruption.

Performance Coach

Management can ease the process of righteous and ethical decision-making, which often is the reason for internal conflicts between employees, by identifying few leaders to work as performance coaches. These coaches can guide and instruct the employees when faced with an ethical quandary and guide them in considering options that confer with their spiritual values. In situations where employee decisions do not completely align with the goals of the organization, the performance coach can assist in finding alternatives that work in favor of both the parties. Such moral instructions and guidelines can ensure that the workforce is at peace with all the decisions they make at their workplace bringing them deep inner bliss and peace (Griffiths, 2010).

Wellness Programs

Entities nowadays are assessing health insurance claims of their workers to figure out data indicative of pressure points. Based on this information, they chalk a program, assisted by professionals, to let employees relieve their stress and tap their inner potential. Either by physical exercise, like running, Zumba, playing, etc. or through an expression of art, for e.g. music, painting, theatre, the organizations teach workers to channel their creative competence and deal with personal and professional challenges more effectively. Stronger self-assists workers to vision things with clarity and make better decisions at the workplace that align with their personal convictions (Williams, & Hankerson, 2014).

Training & Support

Rising tensions and stress at a workplace are causing workers to suffer from anxiety, depression, and long-term mental sickness. With training and support programs, organizations can help the workforce to better deal with their emotions and stress. The art of effectively managing relations at the workplace can also be taught to build up collaborative efforts and sense of camaraderie. The trainers help the employees to combat stress at the workplace and maintain a balance between their personal and professional goals and overwhelmingly contribute towards the betterment and welfare of others (Raffay, 2010).

Benefits of Workplace Spirituality

“The spiritual life is, at root, a matter of seeing – it is all of life seen from a certain perspective.”- Turner, 1999

When offered an environment that aligns with the spiritual needs of the employees, individuals can thrive and flourish. This generates an important sense of meaning and job satisfaction. Happy and enthusiastic employees prove to be an asset to the organization. Everything comes down to one bottom line: spiritually healthy people simply make better, more trustworthy and more productive employees.

Some benefits have been discussed below:

Inner Satisfaction

The feeling of inner satisfaction within an employee at a workplace enhances his productivity and overall performance. With the advancement of technology and the development of new tools, manpower is definitely not in demand as it used to be a few decades ago. The continuous fear of losing a job is one of the major factors that result in stress and disturbed mental health. Hence, when an entity provides a sense of security and belonging by opening up the business conversation to include dimensions of soul and spirit, the workers feel a sense of satisfaction, zealousness and gladly contribute towards the betterment of the company and increased earnings. The inner self (spiritual identity) is about connecting with others and the entire universe (Marques, 2010).

Reduced Turnover and Absenteeism

The spiritual well-being, which includes a sense of community, is positively co-related to co-operation and negatively associated with absenteeism and turnover. A sense of community is inter-linked to workforce commitment and employees are highly productive, innovative and cooperative in the right environments. Increased workplace spirituality results in the entity’s commitment, innate work satisfaction, increased feeling of responsibility and company-based self-esteem (Milliman, Czaplewski & Ferguson, 2003).

Spiritual People Self-Actualize 

Spiritual people make endeavors for a better life and consider self-growth and contentment as their major goal in life. Spirituality can be considered to be a pathway towards self-actualization because it needs individuals to focus on their intramural values and strive towards becoming a better human. Spiritual development and urge for self-actualization are not restricted to individuals, as workplace spirituality encompasses “organizational reconstruction toward spiritual goals and mechanisms”. Workplace spirituality is a significant way to nurture corporate wellness (Fernando, & Nilakant, 2008).

Increased Ethical and Moral Behavior

Spirituality in the workplace increases the ethical and moral behavior of an individual. A significant value of ethical behavior for an organization is the establishment of faith and trust. Individuals who perform in an ethical framework are more reliable and trustworthy. Workers trust employers and vice-versa. Workplace spirituality results in improved ethical behavior at an individual level and a strengthened ethical environment/culture at an entity level. The work culture which lacks spirituality has the absence of understanding and acknowledgment that we are deeply connected. Remaining connected with the spiritual principles and values assists in enhancing of moral imaginations of employees and can offer in-depth cognizance of the many ethical issues that arise in business (McGhee & Grant, 2008).

People are more in touch with the source of creativity at a spiritual workplace

In a spiritual workplace, employers and employees do realize the value of creativity and innovation. Creativity is a cornerstone of success in an organization’s business process. It enables the workforce to innovate and carve novel products and services which are unique and help the companies to stand at the forefront of creativity. It allows the employees to do more with less. In a nutshell, more the employees are creative, the more efficient they are in contributing towards the overall success of the business (Luis Daniel, 2010).

Loyalty, Commitment, and Greater Retention

Workplace spirituality can undoubtedly promote the faithfulness and commitment that results in retention of skillful and experienced workers, which inevitably alleviates expenses associated with inexperience, training, turnover, and absenteeism (Reave, 2005).

Conclusion

Spirituality encompasses the pathway an individual establishes an interconnectedness with the world by means of tapping into deep resources. It encompasses truth, service, and wholeness. It is about self-awareness and unity.

There is a steady increase in workplace spirituality. Because of social and economic transformations in the workplace like reducing the employee number, misconduct, and poor morale, individuals are considering to include the spiritual aspects of their day-to-day life into their work. They are making efforts to create meaning and motivation in the workplace. Whether it is uniting or disintegrating, benefiting organizations or individuals, spirituality is divine enlightenment that cannot be disregarded in the nine-to-five world.

Dr Amita F. – Technical Research/Academic Consultant and Writer

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