Spirit at Work

by Sue Howard

How can it be applied?

Organisations wishing to enhance their employees’ spirit at work could focus efforts on creating organisational conditions that encourage inspiring leadership and mentorship, and which are supportive of the other six factors listed in the previous page:

  • A strong organisational foundation
  • Organisational integrity
  • A positive workplace culture and space
  • A sense of community among members
  • Opportunities for personal fulfilment, continuous learning and development
  • Appreciation and regard for employees and their contribution.

There are many different ways of achieving these ends, some of which are already covered as topics within this resource, such as Leadership, Spiritual Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence, Listening Skills, Learning, Learning Organisations, Organisation Development, Storytelling, Coaching, Mentoring, Non-violent Communication and Ethics in Business, to name just a few.

Spirituality, vision and values

Organisational transformation is often begun by inspirational leaders, who use a variety of tools to redirect the organisation’s vision and mission or its purpose and meaning. It is this transformational idea that often inspires the followers and frees them up to contribute and participate more in the progress of the organisation.

In fact, by simply asking about spirituality you have already begun to bring more spirituality to light at work! It is important that you are congruent about living in alignment with your own beliefs and values. It is worth taking some time to be clear about your own personal values. Have a look at the Goal Setting – Values exercise and Personal Brand – Define your values. The Values centre and Magma effect websites might give you some help in getting started.

If you are able to, you might encourage an environment that can be seen as a ‘safe space’ for sharing deeper thoughts, ideas and questions. This could be as simple as convening a monthly lunchtime conversation group or supporting the idea of a ‘quiet room’ that provides a place to reflect. You might also like to cast a fresh eye over your work environment – does it help you to orient your day well? You could perhaps add things to your desk that help to remind you of your spiritual values throughout the day.

As your awareness of spiritual values grows, you may wish to prioritise and develop your own engagement with spiritual practices, such as times of stillness, reflection, meditation and prayer. You may find this leads you to make insightful connections at work or with other people in your workplace.

You can promote and encourage reflective ways of working – such as having a time of silence at the beginning of meetings to help everyone to ‘gather’ in the meeting space.

The International Spirit at Work Awards

Perhaps the most helpful way to shed some light on the ‘How to’ question is to share stories of approaches that have been successfully applied by other organisations. The case study from the ‘International Spirit at Work Awards’, described below, demonstrates a range of interventions that have been tried and tested.

In the millennial year, Dr Judi Neal and others in the Center for Spirit at Work at the University of Newhaven, USA, created an award to recognise companies that demonstrated ‘Spirit at Work’ in practice. Initially, these were called the ‘Willis Harman Spirit at Work Awards’, in memory of a founding member of the Institute of Noetic Sciences. They soon became known as ‘The International Spirit at Work’ Awards (ISAWA).

A comprehensive application process created an opportunity to identify good practice. The process defined what was meant by spirituality, the kind of features an organisation might exhibit which incorporated spirituality, and the criteria by which the awards would be judged. The awarding committee identified a variety of suitable organisations and invited them to apply for the awards. The judging panel read all applications and also interviewed a representative from each organisation. Through this process, it gradually it became clear to the panel which companies would be offered this prestigious award that year.

Awardees were invited to attend an award ceremony, organised in partnership with the sponsoring organisations: The Center for Spirit at Work, The World Business Academy, Spirit in Business, and The European Bahá’i Business Forum. At these events, awardees gave a presentation about their organisation, its approach to ‘Spirit at Work’ and also contributed a one-page case study for the ISAWA.

A new award has been developed at the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the University of Arkansas. Case studies from the Spirit at Work award winners are now available through the University of Arkansas Tyson Centre for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace.

Alternatively, click here to see two case studies.