Spirit at Work

by Sue Howard

Spirituality in the workplace

Interest in ‘Spirituality in the workplace’ is growing at an ever faster rate. Social and business turmoil spurs individuals to seek spiritual solutions to tensions in the workplace – tensions that can lead to stress, conflict, breakdown in trust and a sense of alienation as ‘human resources’ seem expendable.

Giacalone and Jurkiewicz

Employees, globally, are searching for deeper meaning in life and satisfaction from work in terms of the contributions that are made to society and the manner in which these are made. There is evidence of a growing social consciousness which is being seen through a developing sense of corporate social responsibility.

Personal development opportunities encourage continual learning and the growth of skills and knowledge. The developmental journey is now leading to an integration of spiritual-work identities and taking into account more fully the human need for life to have meaning and purpose.

Spirited and dis-spirited

It’s sometimes easier to get a sense of what spirituality in the workplace is by asking ‘What does a dis-spirited organisation feel like?’ We innately ‘know’ when a sense of connection between spirit and work is absent and (sadly!) most people are able to describe ‘dis-spirited’ without too much hesitation. Perhaps you can create your own list of descriptive words? What would be the opposite of the words on that list? That may give you some insight into what a spirited organisation might be like.

Many have come to accept as normal a lack of fulfilment at work beyond the necessary monetary reward and occasional step up the ladder, which itself often seems disconnected from effort and can be unpredictable. In contrast, if we have at any time experienced some sense of joy when, through work, we attain personal strivings for meaning, we know that the experience seems to transcend both the task at hand and the workplace itself, aligning us with something meaningful that we know, but find hard to articulate.

The purpose of spirituality in the workplace is to re-connect our lives with that sense of meaning and purpose. Talking explicitly about spirit at work encourages the possibility that the spirit-work connection can be created through definable aspects of work environments.