Criticisms of spirituality

Reasons for the Growing Interest in Spirituality

* As a counter balance to the pressures and stress of a turbulent pace of life. Contemporary lifestyles – single-parent families, geographic mobility, the temporary nature of jobs, new technologies that create distance between people – underscore the lack of community many people feel and increases the need for involvement and connection.

* Formalized religion hasn’t worked got many people and they continue to look for anchors to replace lack of faith and to fill a growing feeling of emptiness.

* Job demands have made the workplace dominant in many people’s lives, yet they continue to question the meaning of work.

* The desire to integrate personal life values with one’s professional life.

* An increasing number of people are finding that the pursuit of more material acquisitions leaves them unfulfilled.

Critics of the spirituality movement in organizations have focused on two issues. First is the question of legitimacy. Specially, do organizations have the right to impose spiritual values on their employees? Second is the question of economics. Are spirituality and profits compatible?

On the first question, there is clearly the potential for an emphasis on spirituality to make some employees uneasy. Critics might argue that secular institutions, especially business firms, have no business imposing spiritual values on employees. This criticism is undoubtedly valid when spirituality is defined as bringing religion and God into workplace. However the criticism seems less stinging when the goal is limited to helping employees find meaning in their work lives. If the concerns listed in truly characterize a growing segment of the workplace, then may be the time is right for organizations to help employees find meaning and purpose in their work and to use the workplace as a source of community.

The issue of whether spirituality and profits are compatible objectives is certainly relevant for managers and investors in business. The evidence, although limited, indicates that the two objectives may be very compatible. A recent research study by a major consulting firm found that companies they introduced spirituality-based techniques improved productivity and significantly reduced turnover. Another study found that organizations that provide their employees with opportunities for spiritual development out performed those that didn’t. Others studies also report that spirituality in organizations was positively related to creativity, employee satisfaction, team performance, and organizational commitment. And if you’re looking for a single case to make the argument for spirituality it’s hard to beat Southwest Air. Southwest has one of the lowest employee turnover rate in the airline industry; it consistently has the lowest labor costs per mile flown of any major airline; it regularly outpaces its competitors for achieving on-time arrivals and fewest customer complaints; and it has proven itself to be the most consistently profitable airline in the United States.

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