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Workplace and spirituality: Meeting of opposites

 

CHITRA KHARI

I am sure that you will all agree with me, that despite the Philippines being a Christian nation, there is a possibility of having room for different perspectives of spirituality. Yet, we would nod to the fact that spirituality is a universal human experience and forms the core of our fundamental nature. Since ages, human beings have walked the path of spirituality to search for the meaning of their existence.

Spirituality relates with finding a connection with some higher power. The literary definition of spirituality relates with finding meaning, purpose and connectedness (with all entities). Now the big question comes: Can spirituality be experienced only in meditation halls, temples, churches, mosques or can it be experienced even within the organizational context? And, if yes, then how is this experience made possible within organizations, and what benefit can organizations and individuals derive out of it. This is a broader question which I am trying to answer here.


You might be wondering why there is there a need of spirituality at workplaces. The answer lies in today’s complex, ambiguous, uncertain and highly volatile business environment. Things are interrelated like never before (yet we feel disconnected). The recession at one part of the globe has a ripple effect on the other sides of the planet. Downsizing, layoffs, constant pressure from jobs, use of temporary workforce, long working hours and changes in social structures (downfall of joint families and rising nuclear families) have generated the feeling of alienation in individuals. People feel that despite being connected through the Internet of things, they are isolated, empty and find their life meaningless. All this outer turmoil has triggered an inner journey towards finding meaning and purpose in life.

As people spend most of their substantial time in the office, organizations can take charge of filling this inner void in individuals through providing them meaning, purpose and a sense of strong connectedness with the larger society. Organizations can provide purpose and meaning to employees by integrating and practicing universal spiritual values such as benevolence, integrity, compassion, mutuality and respect. Such organizations are kind, careful and affectionate towards all the stakeholders (internal and external); mindful of their actions towards others and show congruence between their words and actions.

For example, these organizations focus on serving the larger community (or society) by producing earth-friendly products and avoid actions that harm other entities. Workplace spirituality make people realize how one’s organization is fitting in the larger picture, with respect to meeting the economic and social goals in a balancing manner. This would generate social value along with the economic value that in turn, would make organizations meaningful for employees as they will feel that they are part of a larger cause.

Employees engaged in such organizations would sense the contribution towards organizational vision through their work that marks a difference in others’ lives which in turn, instills a sense of self-worth in them. Employees feel their life has meaning, feel more connected with the larger community and develop deep emotional bonding with their respective organizations. The notion of making a difference in others’ lives enhances positive feelings and well-being of the individuals (doing the kind act). Positive feelings act as antidote to stress, and we know that happy employees are the most productive employees. Organizations with a spiritual element enjoy good public reputation which further reinforces employees’ reputation in society, making employees glued to the organization for a longer time.

Thus, integrating spirituality in the workplace is a win-win approach due to its benefits for employees, organizations and of course, the larger society. I hope to have set a favorable tone for a spiritual element in organizations. I leave it to you readers to decide.

Dr. Chitra Khari is an assistant professor at the Institute of Management at Nirma University in India, where she teaches organizational behavior and emotional intelligence. She is a member of the Management, Spirituality and Religion Interest Group of the Academy of Management where De La Salle University is a part. Email: chitrakhari045@gmail.com

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Today’s Front Page February 18, 2020

Today’s Front Page February 18, 2020