Spiritual wellbeing at work: how to do it right
Today, more people are finding inspiration and fulfilment in their jobs by bringing their spirituality into the workplace. The nature and meaning of work are undergoing a profound evolution. And the emergence of spirituality in the workplace points to the desire that there be more to work than just survival. We yearn for work to be a place in which we both experience and express our deep soul and spirit.
Spiritual wellbeing means the ability to experience and integrate meaning and purpose in life through a person's connectedness with self, others art, music, literature, nature, or a power greater than oneself.
Spiritual wellbeing is about our inner life and its relationship with the wider world. It includes our relationship with the environment, our relationships with others and with ourselves.
Spiritual wellbeing does not just reflect religious belief although for people of a religious faith it is obviously a central feature.
Each person’s spirituality is greatly impacted by the community they are a part of and their relationships. To be spiritually well will mean a positive engagement with others, self and our environment.
Benefits of spiritual wellbeing include:
- Feeling content with life
- Maintaining balance and control of life
- Building positive relationships
- Feeling a purpose and meaning in life
- Experiencing a connection with a power greater than oneself
- Accepting and growing from the challenges and changes in life.
Spiritual wellbeing is about wholeness, which encompasses the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual dimension. This doesn’t mean however that we must be well in every area to be spiritually well. For example, someone may be physically unwell yet have a positive spiritual wellbeing which helps them cope with their physical difficulties.
Spirituality in the workplace: what does it mean?
Spirituality in the workplace means that employees find nourishment for both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of their spirituality at work.
Spirituality in the workplace is about individuals and organisations seeing work as a spiritual path, as an opportunity to grow and to contribute to society in a meaningful way.
Critics argue that organisations have no business imposing spiritual values on employees. This criticism is undoubtedly valid when spirituality is defined as bringing religion and God into the workplace.
It is about care, compassion and support of others; about integrity and people being true to themselves and others. It means individuals and organisations attempting to live their values more fully in the work they do.
Examples of organisational spirituality include:
- meditation time at the beginning of meetings
- retreat or spiritual training time set aside for employees
- appropriate accommodation of employee prayer practices
- openly asking questions to test if company actions are aligned with higher meaning and purpose.
Spirituality can be nurtured at a workplace by:
- Bereavement programs
- Wellness information displayed and distributed
- Employee Assistance Programs
- Management systems that encurage personal and spiritual transformation
- Servant leadership – the desire to serve others first in preference to self
- Stewardship – leadership practices that support growth and wellbeing of others.
- Diversity programs that create inclusive cultures
- Integration of core values and core business decisions and practices
- Leadership practices that support the growth and development of all employees
According to Fortune Magazine, 78% of Americans feel a need to experience spiritual growth — and half of them say they openly talk about such spiritual needs at work.
The Business Intelligence Journal reported in 2009 that 85% of participants replied yes in response to the question of whether or not leaders’ spirituality influenced their organisations.
Creativity is a cornerstone of business.
It allows us to come out with new products and services that really are of service. Human capital has to be treated differently than financial capital.
You have to create an atmosphere in which creativity and innovation flourish; and that is accomplished through the bountiful expression of spirit.
People are hungry for ways in which to practice spirituality in the workplace without offending their coworkers or causing acrimony. They believe strongly that unless organisations learn how to harness the “whole person” and the immense spiritual energy that is at the core of everyone, they will not be able to produce world-class products and services.
Lack of spirituality more than religiosity is the root cause of corruption and scams. Nobody is corrupt with their own family. Corruption is happening because there is no sense of belonging. Spirituality enhances the sense of belongingness among people, so that there is natural tendency to be honest and to take care of each other.
The concept of spirituality draws on the ethics, values, motivation, wok/life balance, and leadership elements of an organisation. Spiritual organisations are concerned with helping employees develop and reach their potential. They are also concerned with addressing problems created by work life conflicts.
In most businesses today, spirit and spirituality aren't talked about.
The first thing that needs to happen is to make it safe and permissible to talk about it, as normally and as naturally as the many other conversations we have at work, such as: profitability, innovations and personnel issues. However, spirituality is becoming more openly recognized as an integral part of work.
In the end, it’s HRM that will make the workplace a supportive work environment, where communication abounds and employees feel free to express themselves.