Things have changed since I left the corporate world four years ago. When I was a part of the corporate universe, there seemed to be no room for spirituality or discussions about mindfulness. Even the word mindfulness seldom was spoken! After I experienced ten years in industry, the lack of fulfillment, self-nourishment, and overall genuine human connections drove me to seek a more rewarding career path in psychology and mindfulness at the workplace. Now, we seem to be at a time where organizations are changing the way they manage their people. Some enterprises are now investing more time and resources in the well-being of employees as their most valuable assets.
Enter Spirituality at Work
Organizational research has also changed and embraced some new ideas including spirituality at the workplace. Literature explaining the impact of spirituality at the workplace has emerged showing us what it means to be spiritual at work, how to measure it, and the impact it can have. A study by Arazi and colleagues looks at different models of spirituality at work and explores their impacts on the organization.Some of us could agree that many business leaders operate in a culture where notions of spirituality run counter to the models of organizational effectiveness that they learned and expect to follow. However, today organizations need individuals who will struggle for the benefit of the organization beyond their assigned duties. This will be very important specifically in sensitive and critical jobs.
According to Arazi’s study, spirituality at work has been defined as the recognition that employees have inner lives that nourish, and are nourished by meaningful work and that take place in the context of community. The Center for Spirit at Work defines spirituality as “a state or experience that can provide individuals with direction or meaning, or can provide feelings of understanding, support, inner wholeness or connectedness.” Connectedness means a connection to themselves, other people, nature, the universe, a god, or some other higher power.
Vertical and Horizontal Dimensions of Spirituality
According to this study, spirituality has two dimensions: vertical and horizontal. Spirituality in the workplace means employees finding nourishment for both of these components.The vertical component is the desire to transcend the individual ego. The vertical component might be named God, Spirit, Universe, Higher Power, or something else. Some examples of vertical organizational spirituality practices include: meditation time at beginning of meetings, retreat or spiritual training time set aside for employees, appropriate accommodations of employee prayer practices, and openly asking questions to help determine if company actions are in alignment with higher meaning and purpose.
The horizontal component is the desire to be of service to other humans and the planet. Through the horizontal component we seek to make a difference through our actions, which in turn we manifest externally. Some examples of horizontal organizational spirituality include: caring behaviors among co-workers, a social responsibility orientation, strong service commitments to customers, environmental sensitivity, and a significant volume of community service activities.
Value to the Organization
When spirituality at the workplace is done right, it enhances the overall value of the organization.Rigorous spiritual and organizational commitments models help us understand how and under what specific conditions spiritual values can positively influence organizational commitments of employees in the organization. Results based on the investigation of these models, and the combination of their frameworks show that employees who experience spiritual values in the workplace feel more attached to their organizations, and simultaneously experience a sense of obligation and loyalty towards them.
Moreover, previous research shows that spirituality at the workplace is one factor that creates job satisfaction and organization commitment. Hence, it is clear that our ability to nourish ourselves at the workplace will increase our overall level of happiness and satisfaction at the workplace, or even outside.
That’s what happened to me when I chose self-nourishment through self-connection and connection to a higher power, which led me to the pursuit of my passions! I’ve never been happier.
Arazi, Z. K; Dehaghi, M. R; Goodarzi, M. (2012), The effect of spiritual values on employees’ organizational commitment and its models. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 62, pp. 199-166. Abstract.
Benefiel, M., Fry, L. & Geigle, D. (2014). Spirituality and religion in the workplace: History, theory, and research. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6(3), 175–187.
Photo Credit: via Compfight with Creative Commons licenses
Meditation room courtesy of OlivIreland
Accommodating prayer practices courtesy of angela7dreams
Service to community courtesy of Visions Service Adventures