The past few years have witnessed a proliferation of articles on spirituality and its relevance for business. A growing trend in spirituality research is an emphasis on spirituality in the workplace and business. Theoretical and empirical support is emerging on how workplace spirituality influences both employee and organizational outcomes.
What is spirituality in business? There’s a wide range of important perspectives. Some people say that it’s simply embodying their personal values of honesty, integrity, and good quality work. Others say it’s treating their co-workers and employees in a responsible, caring way. For others, it’s participating in spiritual study groups or using prayer, meditation, or intuitive guidance at work. And for some, it’s making their business socially responsible in how it impacts the environment, serves the community or helps create a better world.
Key spiritual values embraced in a business context include integrity, honesty, accountability, quality, cooperation, service, intuition, trustworthiness, respect, justice, and service. People at all levels in the corporate hierarchy increasingly want to nourish their spirit and creativity. When employees are encouraged to express their creativity, the result is a more fulfilled and sustained workforce. Happy people work harder and are more likely to stay at their jobs. A study of business performance by the highly respected Wilson Learning Company found that 39% of the variability in corporate performance is attributable to the personal satisfaction of the staff. Spirituality was cited as the second most important factor in personal happiness (after health) by the majority of Americans questioned in a USA Weekend poll, with 47% saying that spirituality was the most important element of their happiness.
Globally people increasingly want to bring a greater sense of meaning and purpose into their work life. They want their work to reflect their personal mission in life. Many companies are finding the most effective way to bring spiritual values into the workplace is to clarify the company’s vision and mission, and to align it with a higher purpose and deeper commitment to service to both customers and community.
Increasing numbers of business people find that the key area for applying spirituality is in how employees are treated. Simple things can be very powerful like take a few minutes each day to appreciate someone, to thank them for a job well done, or just to listen to their concerns. Generosity with your time can be as important as generosity with money.
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