What is Workplace Spirituality?

A spiritual culture that recognizes that employees have both a mind and a spirit seek to find meaning and purposes in their work, and desire to connect with other employees and be part of a community.

What do organizations such as Reckit and Coleman, Wipro, Dabur or Tata Tea have in common? Among other characteristics they are among a growing number of organizations that have embraced workplace spirituality.

Workplace spirituality is not about organized practices. It’s not about theology of about one’s spiritual leader. Rather, workplace spirituality is about recognizing that takes place in the context of an organizational community. Organizations that promote a spiritual culture recognize that employees have both a mind and a spirit, seek to find meaning and purpose in their work, and desire to connect with other employees and be part of a community.

Why the emphasis on spirituality in today’s organizations?

Historical models of management had no room for spirituality. These models typically focused on organizations that were efficiently run without feelings toward others. Similarly, concern about an employee’s inner life had no role in managing organizations. But just as we’ve come to realize that the study of emotions improves our understanding of how and why people act the way they do in organizations, an awareness of spirituality can help one better understand employee work behavior in the twenty first century organization.

For example, The Indian self is found to have a significant component of spirituality which has manifest implications for their workplace performances moral decision making or attitudes towards ethical issues.

What does a spiritual organization look alike?

The concept of spirituality draws on the ethics, values, motivation, wok/life balance, and leadership elements of an organization. Spiritual organizations are concerned with helping employees develop and reach their potentials. They are also concerned with addressing problems created by work life conflicts.

What differentiates spiritual organizations from their non spiritual counterparts? Although research is fairly new in this arena, several characteristics tend to be associated with the spiritual organization.

Although workplace spirituality has generated some interest in many organizations, it is not without its critics. Those who argue against spirituality in organizations typically focus on two issues. First is the question of legitimacy . Specifically, do organizations have the right to impose spiritual values on their employees? Second is the question of economics. Are spirituality and profits compatible? Let’s briefly look at these issues.

The potential for an emphasis on spirituality to make some employees uneasy is clearly present. Critics argue that organizations 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. However, the criticism appears less stinging whether goal is limited to helping employees find meaning in their work lives.

The issue of whether spirituality and profits are compatible objectives is certainly relevant for anyone in business. The evidence, although limited, indicates that the two objectives may be particularly compatible. Several studies show that in organizations that have introduced spirituality into the workplace have witnessed improved productivity reduced turnover, greater employee satisfaction and increased organizational commitment.

Characteristics of Spiritual Organizations:

Strong sense of purpose: Organizational members know why the organization exists and what it values.

Focus on individual development: Employers are valuable and need to be nurtured to help them grow. These characteristics also include a sense of job security.

Trust and openness: Organizational member relationships are characterized by mutual trust, honesty and openness.

Employee empowerment: Employees are allowed to a make work related decisions that affect them, highlighting a strong sense of delegation of authority.

Toleration of employee expression: The organization culture encourages employees to be themselves and to express their moods and feelings without guilt or fear of reprimand.

HRM and Spirituality:

Ironically, introducing spirituality into the organizations is nothing new for HR. In actuality, many of the areas that HRM addresses, and has done so for many years. There are many of the same things that support spirituality, For instance matters such as work / life balances, proper selection of employees, setting performance goals and rewarding people for the work they do are all components of making the organization more spiritual. In fact as you review the characteristics of a spiritual organization, in every case, HRM is either the leader in making such things happen, or is the vehicle by which the organization helps employees understand their responsibilities and offers the requisite training to make things happen. 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.