Is workplace spirituality a fad?
In our productivity obsessed world, many of us are caught up in the busyness of life and spending the majority of our waking hours at work. With most of us working from home, it is getting harder and harder to separate work and home life. Could the answer to a more purposeful life be to practice spirituality at work? Workplace spirituality is gaining popularity as a way to stay more connected and bring about a sense of mindfulness to our busy lives. In this blog, we explore spirituality at work, the benefits and how it differs from religion.
What’s the difference between religion and spirituality?
Religion and spirituality are two very different things. Religion refers to a specific belief system of faith and beliefs. On the other hand, spirituality is more focused on feelings of interconnectedness, purpose, tolerance and our relationship with the wider world — including the environment, our relationships with others and with ourselves.
A person’s spirituality is shaped by the communities they’re part of and their relationships in them. The benefits of spirituality include:
- A sense of purpose and meaning in life
- Feelings of contentment
- Helps to maintain work-life balance
- Building positive relationships at home and work
- Resilience and growth from the challenges and changes in life.
What does spirituality in the workplace mean?
A few sceptics have argued that spirituality has no place in the workplace — this is only valid when spirituality is defined in the context of God and religion. When it is defined as bringing respect, care, compassion and support for others so that employees can thrive — then yes, spirituality does belong in the workplace.
The idea of spirituality in the workplace began in the early 1920s. It then emerged as a grassroots movement with people looking to merge faith and spiritual principles at work. Today, many businesses are recognising the importance of workplace spirituality. People are acknowledging the fact that we spend so much time working that it needs to be meaningful to our lives as well.
There is a lot of benefits to workplace spirituality. Research has shown that spirituality in the workplace increases trust and openness. There is a sense of belonging and inclusion, where employees are encouraged to express their feelings without any fear of shaming. Employees are also empowered to make decisions in their day to day work.
Ways to include workplace spirituality
Given we are in the midst of a pandemic, it’s important to maintain a balance and to carry our spirituality into the workplace where we can. There are many ways you can incorporate the ideas of spirituality into your business for enhanced employee wellbeing.
Introduce wellbeing programs and practices
This may include Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) which is a voluntary and confidential service designed to help with employee mental health and wellbeing. Other ideas include:
- a 2-minute meditation before a meeting
- lunchtime yoga
- offering fruit at work
- voluntary flu shots
- mentoring walks
Create a sense of belonging
Having a sense of belonging is a psychological need that’s universal and therefore applies in the workplace. Employees can bring their best selves to work when a sense of belonging is established. When people have a connection to their work and organisation, it results in greater engagement, innovation and productivity.
But this is hard work and means focusing on diversity and creating an inclusive culture. It can be as simple as having employee prayer rooms and celebrating cultural and significant events such as International Women’s Day and Harmony Day. Creating a sense of belonging also means breaking down silos and hierarchy and treating everyone the same regardless of job title, tenure or background.
Encourage kindness and empathy
Empathy is a skill that involves putting ‘ourselves in the other person’s shoes’ and thinking about how they would feel — not how we would feel. It’s the ability to understand a person’s experience, perspective and feelings.
Empathy is essential for great leadership because it allows you to get to know your employees and customers better. Therefore, it enables you to make better business decisions and strategise accordingly. Without empathy, it’s almost impossible to build a successful team and relationships with your customers. You will not inspire followers or create loyalty without empathy.
Over to you
Workplace spirituality as a concept is gaining popularity with many businesses now emphasising spiritual values among their employees to unlock their full potential so that they can find meaning and joy in their jobs. Increasing spirituality can be as simple as introducing lunchtime meditation or yoga — but importantly, creating the right environment of kindness and a sense of belonging is essential for everyone to thrive.
How will you incorporate workplace spirituality in your business? We’d love to hear your ideas.
If you liked this article, check out our article on Mental health: looking after yourself and your employees.