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Accommodating Workplace Spirituality


Due to a lack of job security and other inevitable uncertainties that one calls “life,” many workers are looking inward for new meaning and purpose in their lives. Furthermore, some employees who are looking for solace in their hectic life are turning to their employers. These employers have taken the initiatives to elevate spirituality in the workplace. Hertz and Friedman (2015) have pointed out that companies were hesitant to deal with the spiritual side fearing that it treaded too close to religion. Fachrunnisa et al. (2014) stated that spirituality means different things to different people, but in the workplace it’s less about formal religion and more about helping individuals to explore how they can find worth in the work they do and lead a more meaningful life aligned with their values.

On the other hand, some studies actually uncovered that employees working in environments that support their right to be open about their religious beliefs feel safer, have better working relationships with co-workers, and are more likely to be engaged in their work (Hertz & Friedman, 2015). Hertz and Friedman (2015) indicated that some companies are providing quiet rooms where employees can slip away to decompress, meditate, or pray. These companies also offer seminars on topics such as nutrition, parenting, and work/life balance. In addition, companies stock their lending libraries with books and CDs on spirituality. Popular on-site fitness classes include meditative activities, such as yoga and tai chi.

Other ways by which employers can bring spirituality to the workplace include providing opportunities for employees to volunteer in their community. Additionally, employers can allow workers to have a voice through feedback or conversations to let them feel more authentic and valuable. Counseling is a novel idea that has become popular in today’s organizations (Vallerand, 2012) as employees sometimes have issues at home that may impact their performance at work. Therefore, just by talking to someone at work about the issue is a win-win situation. Thus, those companies taking a holistic approach to workplace spirituality are finding that soothing employees' collective angst and helping them feel connected to a larger community can boost satisfaction, performance, loyalty, resiliency, retention and recruitment, and, ultimately, the company's sustainability.



Path to Workplace Spirituality

Accommodating workplace spirituality requires a collaboration from both the employees and the organization. Leadership at all levels must buy into the program and develop fundamental steps to attain it. As indicated by Hertz and Friedman (2015), spirituality is not about getting employees to buy into a specific set of religious beliefs, but their study uncovered that employees working in environments that support their right to be open about their emotion, meditation, and prayer feel safer, have better working relationships with associates, and are more likely to be engaged in their work. Based on their research, the authors revealed the following actions are beneficial in accomplishing the program: cultivate interconnectedness, accommodate cultural diversity, shared ownership, empower people, put emphasis on principles, create meditation culture, cultivate mindfulness, put people first, develop spiritual study groups, and focus to bring good in the world.

The concepts of a workplace spirituality program are explained here in more detail.

· The basis of cultivate interconnectedness is to let everyone experience the feeling of being part of something greater than self. In other words, the voices of the customers, employees, and other stakeholders must be valued.

· The company must respect cultural diversity. Evidence suggests that cultural diversity adds value and competitive advantage (Hertz & Friedman, 2015).

· Employees at all levels need to share responsibility and ownership. Involve, educate, and align everybody around the corporate objectives, values, and future pathway. Support individual’s sense of calling or passion about their lives and their work. Encourage employees to use their unique skills within the organization.

· Empower employees to be the ambassadors of the company. Vision and values of the company must be carried out. Employees need to exhibit compassionate towards the fundamental issues of human life.

· Emphasis on principles of the company promotes personal growth, long-term character development, and personal connections of faith and work development.

· The organization should create a mediation culture. For example, employees should have access to special mediation rooms and be given a half hour per day on company time to meditate.

· Cultivate mindfulness is also a step that should not be overlooked. Employees should try to be aware instead of unaware. In other words, individuals need to plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done without having to rush.

· Leadership should put their employees first. Corporate must spend more time assisting employees as a friend and not just an asset.

· The development of spiritual study groups will need to focus on positive thoughts, inner guidance, and aware decision making.

· Finally, corporate must take an interest in life and contribute to the greater good in the world. Ultimately, the road to workplace spirituality is arduous and long, but the benefit is profound once realized (Hertz & Friedman, 2015).

Accommodating workplace spirituality requires a collaboration between employees and leadership. Transparent communication between both parties is recommended. Workplace spirituality functions best when there is a buy in from all parties involved. The need by both parties to focus and improve on the qualities that do work and those that do not will make the transition to workplace spirituality more seamless and consistent. In the end, accommodating workplace spirituality will keep employees content and leadership pleased with their output.

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