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Spirituality in the workplace

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Spirituality in the work place
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Abstract
There is an emerging increase in scholarly interest in spirituality at the workplace with a specific emphasis on the impact of spirituality on employee well-being and professional performance. Management researchers and practitioners have come to the conclusion that while organizational performance and profits are the key reason why a business exists, sustainable business performance is anchored on a healthy workforce, supported by strong values and ethical culture. Spirituality in the workplace has been found to inculcate a culture of commitment, values, respect, excellence and ethical behavior in the workplace, key ingredients of a sustainable organizational success. While there are different definitions of the term spirituality, for the purpose of this paper, spirituality is defined as an expression of one’s desire to ‘‘find meaning and purpose in our lives and is a process of living out one’s set of deeply held personal values. Workplace spirituality involves the effort to find one’s ultimate purpose in life, to develop a strong connection to coworkers and other people associated with work, and to have consistency or alignment between one’s core beliefs and values of their organization’’ Beheshtifar & Zare. (2013)
This paper explores recent studies in this area, particularly on the issue of spirituality in the workplace, elements of spirituality, differences between spirituality and religion and the impacts of spirituality on both personal well-being and professional performance in the workplace.

Wait! Spirituality in the workplace paper is just an example!

It reports that organizations that emphasize on a strong culture of spirituality in the workplace realize greater employee satisfaction, excellent workplace culture and generally higher levels of both personal and organizational performance.
Introduction
Spirituality in the workplace is defined as an effort by one to finds their ultimate purpose in life, while developing a strong connection to workplace stakeholders, cultivating consistency in the alignment of their core beliefs and workplace values, traditions, beliefs, and culture. There are three different perspectives of spirituality and how they impact on employee performance. The human resource perspective opines that spirituality enhances employee’s quality of life and wellbeing, the philosophical perspective holds that spirituality provides employees a sense of purpose and meaning in the workplace while the interpersonal perspective holds that spirituality brings a sense of community, oneness and interconnectedness. Studies, therefore, suggest that organizations that pay emphasis on spirituality not only have a healthy and well workforce but also have sustained and improved organizational performance and profitability.
Beheshtifar & Zare (2013) note that there is a paradigm shift in management theory, behavioral sciences and practice in the past two decades. Organizations are shifting their main focus from purely economic to a balance of profits, spirituality, quality of life and social responsibility concerns. There is an increased shift towards long-term sustainability and survival of the enterprise as opposed to short term gains. This means that managers are more concerned about what makes the organization sustainable in the long run. Backed with empirical evidence that employee satisfaction and well-being plays an important role in ensuring the success of the organization, managers are more concerned about spirituality in the workplace as it has been proven to have a significant impact on employee commitment, excellence, and values at the work-place.

Elements of spirituality
According to Beheshtifar & Zare (2013), the term spirituality originates in the 17th century France where it was used to describe aspects of the Quietist movement, with this definition broadening later in the 19th century to associate with piety and mysticism. Today, spirituality is often confused with religion. While religion is mainly an adherence and piety to a supernatural being, spirituality on the other hand, is a move broad and vague subject that is difficult to define. There are several dimensions of spirituality, as postulated by MacDonald (2000). These are;
Beliefs, attitudes and perceptions- highly spiritual organizations have certain beliefs, perceptions, and values that guide their workforce on a day- to -day basis. Whether it is something to do with their perception of the organization, their beliefs in the management or their attitude towards their work, these elements are a form of a spiritual element that abides in the organization.
The sense of meaning and purpose for existence- Employees in highly spiritual organizations poses a strong sense of purpose and meaning for their existence. This plays a major role in their wellbeing, satisfaction and ultimately their performance in the organization
Belief in the paranormal-Spiritual employee’s belief in the paranormal- They believe that no one needs to watch them as there is a spiritual duty to do what is right, to offer their services to the best of their abilities and ultimately to contribute positively towards organizational growth.
Religious behavior and practices- spiritual employees hold on to certain religious behaviors and practices. These behaviors and practices are deemed to influence their workplace decisions in a manner that promotes the organizational culture and values, which is a reflection of organizational success.
Besides the above elements, spirituality has been defined using three concepts as explained by Beheshtifar & Zare (2013). Spiritual growth involves mental growth, individual learning and problem solving which are the main vehicles for individual development. Spiritual growth supersedes and reflects one’s gratification of individual needs of ‘belonging’ and also those of higher order such as achievement. The employee that attains true spirituality at the work-place has already transcended work and family connections and work-place settings and lastly, spirituality, just like organizational culture is reinforced and communicated through the highest ranks of the organization such as the leadership.
Other elements of spirituality, according to Kinjerski & Skrypnek’s (2006) are (a) a team sense of community which involves having a deep connection at both group level of human behavior and interactions between employees and co-workers.( b) Alignment of both individual and organizational values- this involves finding a congruence between individual inner life and organizational values.(c) Contribution to the community- this element opines that work done by an individual is beneficial to both the individual and the community at large (d) sense of enjoyment at work-this relates to a sense of pleasure and joy at work. Individuals want to not only perform at their workplace but also enjoy and look forward to what they do.(e) God’s supervision- perhaps, the most direct consequence of spirituality is that employees get the sense that god is supervising all their deeds, and they should, therefore, do the best without supervision. This according to religious teachings such as the Quran means that “God is aware of treachery in people’s eyes and hidden ideas in their hearts.” Hence, preventing God’s punishments and rendering accounts in resurrection day, the real Muslim tries not to do illegal and wrong actions. Unlike non –Islamic societies, this is point for Islamic managers that employers and people know god present and supervisor on their actions (Khanifar et al, 2010)
Impact of spirituality in the workplace
Ajala (2013) sought to find out whether there was a relationship between workplace spirituality and employee wellbeing. In his study, a descriptive research design involving a population of 275 people, drawn from three firms in different sectors was involved in the study. A questionnaire, tagged the “Workplace Spirituality and Workers’ Wellbeing Questionnaire” with a four point rating scale of Strongly Agree (SA), Agree (A), Strongly Disagree (SD) and Disagree (D) was used. Four sections, Meaningful work, purposeful work, sense of community and interconnectedness and wellbeing were outlined, and respondents were expected to express their opinion on the questionnaires on these four sections. A multiple regression analysis of the results at a significance level of 0.05 was carried out in results analysis.
The findings of this study showed that employee wellbeing is guaranteed by workplace spirituality. Employee wellbeing meant that morale, productivity, and commitment were enhanced mostly because of the reduction of work-related stress and burnout. It also reduced the negative elements of work holism and also subsequently increased productivity. This is in line with the views of other scholars such as Kinjerski & Skrypnek, (2006) who noted that spirituality makes employees feel complete and able to work and Khanifar et al. (2010) who are of the view that inculcation of spirituality in employees makes them honest, compassionate and courageous individuals that ultimately lead to improved organizational performance.
The findings also showed that workplace spirituality led to work being more satisfying, meaningful and led to better performance. Workers express their spirituality through their work, and this leads to a feeling of satisfaction and hence workers are likely to perform better. This agrees with previous findings that workers who find meaning in their workplaces always perform more ethically, responsibly, creatively and collaboratively at work (Duchon & Petchsawanga, 2012). Further, spirituality leads to increased personal and job commitment, empowerment, cohesion in vision and purpose and increased team performance.
The findings also established that spirituality led to a strong sense of community since it involves mental and emotional connections amongst employees and teams in the organization. It also involves a sense of connections among people, support, freedoms of expressions and genuine care. All these attributes that guarantee the individual wellbeing of the employee ultimately leads to improved collective personal and professional performance.
Petchsawanga (2012) carried out a related study in order to establish the relationship between work place spirituality and performance. In this study, it was noted that performance is linked to meaningful work, mindfulness, compassion, and transcendence and that attending to these factors goes a long way in creating a productive work environment. The author notes that in order for employees to realize their full potential, organizations need to design meaningful job characteristics and also address employee needs at a personal level. This includes ensuring continuous learning and development, appreciating individual contributions, promoting creativity and enhancing autonomy and flexibility.
Structural and cultural aspects of the organization such as integrity, workplace culture, social responsibility, sense of community and an inspirational leadership are some of the issues that enhance workplace spirituality and ultimately positively impact on organizational performance.
According to Neck & KrishnarKumar (2012), encouraging spirituality leads to benefits in areas such as personal fulfillment, honesty, and trust, creativity, and commitment, all of which lead to improved organizational performance. Spirituality, being a higher order achievement often leads to expansion of one’s mental frontiers, and this leads to creativity and intuition. Complete spiritual development of the employee leads to happiness and satisfaction which leads to better employee creativity.
Most spiritually based organizations have instituted a culture of honesty and trust towards their suppliers, customers, and other stakeholders. For an organization to succeed and sustainably so, there is a need for honesty and truthfulness in her dealings. Spiritual organizations bank on their honesty and truthfulness even in times of hardships as this fosters a bond between the organization and its employees. Trust leads to accelerated decision making, focus on customer issues, better communication, and greater innovation.
Spirituality in organizations has also been found to contribute positively towards personal fulfillment. Spirituality in the organization makes employees feel complete as they come to work. This often leads to increased morale and ultimately improved organizational performance. Personal fulfillment is a key component of personal development for employees.
Spirituality increases employee commitment by establishing a culture of trust. When employees trust their employer, then they are more likely to show commitment to their work, as opposed to a situation where there is distrust between employees and their employer which often leads to dissatisfaction. Committed employees often translate to great service to customers and ultimately a successful organization.
Conclusion
The 21st-century businesses and economies are faced with a myriad of challenges such as business complexities, structural and competition aspects which require a more organized and creative approach to conquer. Research in managerial and organizational sciences has come to the conclusion that introduction of spirituality in the workplace will enable employees to be more creative, innovative, productive and compassionate in all their activities if business sustainability is to be achieved. When people commit their spirits to work, then they can find a meaning and purpose. This kind of fulfillment in the workplace not only leads to reduced stress levels, increased more but also leads to enhanced wellbeing, work performance and quality of life.
To promote spirituality in the workplace, management should institute several forms of spirituality such as optional prayers, yoga sessions, having multi-faith prayer spaces, corporate chaplaincies, etc., which would create an environment of spirituality for all. In organizations that are not highly spiritual, management needs to encourage spiritual practices such as meditation, reflection, fitness and sports and wellness programs as a method of coping with stress in the organization. Management also needs to create an environment where employees can openly express their spiritual beliefs as long as they do not interfere with the freedoms of others.
Lastly, organizational leadership needs to appreciate that employees as spiritual beings and value their spiritual lives. Workplace spirituality begins with the appreciation that employees are not only present in their physical beings but also brings their hearts, creativity, souls and unique spirits to work.

References
Ajala,E.M (2013). The impact of workplace spirituality and employees’ wellbeing at the industrial sector: the Nigerian experience. The African Symposium: An online journal of the African Educational Research Network
Beheshtifar,M & Zare, E (2013). Effect of Spirituality in workplace on Job Performance. Interdisciplinary journal of contemporary research in business. VOL 5, NO 2
Duchon, D & Petchsawanga,P (2012). Workplace Spirituality, Meditation, and Work Performance. Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion 9:2 (June 2012), pp. 189- 208;
Khanifar, H., Jandaghi, G. & Shojaie, S., (2010). Organizational Consideration between Spirituality and Professional Commitment, European Journal of Social Sciences – Vol.12, No. 4
Kinjerski, V. & Skrypnek, B.J. (2006, August). Measuring the intangible: Development of the spirit at work scale. Paper presented at the Sixty-fifth Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, Atlanta, GA.
Krishnakumar, S., & Neck, C. P. (2002). The “what”, “why” and “how” of spirituality in the workplace, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 17 (3), 153-164

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