Spirituality At Work

If you mentioned spirituality ten years ago colleagues would’ve smiled politely or snickered. You’d have been labelled “the Shirley Maclaine of the office”.

Traditionally, spirituality was living up to the values and expectations of religion but today there are many people who practice spirituality that don’t embrace organized religion. Spirituality in today’s world may include religion but not necessarily.

My sense of spirituality includes defining values and principles and living in alignment with them. Spirituality is getting clear about life purpose then expressing and demonstrating it , for myself and to others, in everything I do.

David Foot (Boom Bust and Echo) tells us baby boomers have driven western culture since birth and will do so until death. In the late sixties there were many songs about brotherhood, and coming together and love for one another. Boomers were teenagers then. They weren’t in the workplace. Now they are. I think they’ve remembered the messages from those songs and are now able to do something about it.

In the 1980’s boomers were establishing their adulthood:careers, spouses, mortgages, families. Now many of them are in positions of influence and power at work. They are aging and facing the death of parents, and sometimes one from their own ranks. They have maturing bodies and greater heath concerns. Mortality is real now. These transitions make the questions, “Who am I?” and “What do I really want?” urgent to answer and lead to active spiritual exploration and awareness.

Many boomers explored these questions in private, ten yeas ago. Over the years they started talking about spirituality with their colleagues. The numbers who felt the same was bigger than they thought! It’s a critical mass thing:when we feel alone we’re quiet but once we find out there are others who think similarly, we “speak up”.

Now you see inspirational and motivational quotes, pictures and doodads on desks, everywhere! More organizations are supporting employee personal development. There’s a rise in words with a spiritual foundation, such as win/win, harmony, alignment, oneness, synergy, holistic, creativity, shared vision, mission, values, teamwork, leadership, ethics, and integrity. Whew! What spiritual words do you use?

Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was the perfect gift to organizations. I believe it’s largely thanks to this book that spirituality at work has taken off. Covey’s magic was in finding words that made spirituality corporately palatable. Now organizations hold workshops for employees to explore spirituality and how it fits into their work world. Covey taught us the spirituality of Living, Loving, Learning and Leaving a Legacy. Now there is a proliferation of books and facilitations which all do good work in developing spirituality.

It’s hard keeping up with change and that causes confusion. Exploring our spirituality:our personal power and sense of self:reminds us that confusion within ourselves doesn’t have to exist, even if their is confusion in the world. When we’re calm and purposeful and clear we’re more valuable to ourselves, our families and to our companies.

Organizations that support their employee’s spirituality are the big winners. The attitudes and behaviours of spiritual employees enhances all aspects of company performance.

It’s not enough any more to just get a pay cheque. Organizations and individuals are looking for heart and soul. They’re finding it through spirituality and taking it to work, everywhere they go.

To foster spirituality in the workplace organizations should look at:

  • Encouraging, promoting and financially supporting employee personal and professional development
  • Creating a holistic approach to the work environment:one that brings the ancient Greek philosophy of sound body, sound mind and sound spirit to modern times:one that focuses on employee wellness by providing health information, programs and facilities
  • Implementing the principles of the learning organization
  • Ensuring spiritual leadership (ie. sincere, ongoing dedication to personal development) comes from the very top of the organization down to the most frontline staff
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