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Workplace Spirituality and Spirituality in the Workplace: Are They Mutually Exclusive?

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 Workplace Spirituality and Spirituality in the Workplace: Are They Mutually Exclusive?

This week I would like to discuss exerts from my dissertation titled “Exploring the Role of Workplace Spirituality for Managers in Financial Institutions in Nigeria: A Case Study”

Let us start by looking at various definitions of Spiritual Intelligence:

  • Spiritual intelligence is a term used by some philosophers, psychologists, and developmental theorists to indicate spiritual parallels with IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient) (Wikipedia)
  • The inquiry into spiritual intelligence suggests that it is one of several types of intelligence and that it can be developed relatively independently. Spiritual intelligence calls for multiple ways of knowing and for the integration of the inner life of mind and spirit with the outer life of work in the world. It can be cultivated through questing, inquiry, and practice. Spiritual experiences may also contribute to its development, depending on the context and means of integration. Spiritual maturity is expressed through wisdom and compassionate action in the world. Spiritual intelligence is necessary for discernment in making spiritual choices that contribute to psychological well-being and overall healthy spiritual development (Frances Vaughan)
  • Cindy Wigglesworth defines spiritual intelligence (SQ) as: The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation.

After definitions of SQ; So, what is spirituality and how does affect the workplace? Do we practice workplace spirituality or bring spirituality to the workplace? We should first differentiate between spirituality and religion.

  • Religion: The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods (Oxford Dictionary)

Religion can create problems in the workplace, except in cases of religious accommodation, especially in countries where there are state religions (Cunha et al., 2006).  Although there are advantages of encouraging spirituality in the workplace, religion can be used as an instrument of control.  Employees can be forced or coerced to join societies such as happy family associations and prayer groups.

  • Spirituality: Spirituality are positive values or principles that we develop which can be influenced by religion, societal values, or corporate culture (Obrimah, 2013).

So, what is workplace Spirituality: workplace spirituality are values we bring to the workplace such as; integrity, honesty, fairness, professionalism, thoroughness, discipline, transparency, sincerity, trust, simplicity, and humility.

How is workplace spirituality different from spirituality in the workplace?

Workplace spirituality are values we bring to the workplace that influence ethical behavior whereas spirituality in the workplace implies the encouraging the practicing of spirituality in the workplace.

The human resource perspective to spirituality must do with employee well-being which purports that (a) incorporating spirituality in the workplace improves employee well-being by increasing commitment, morale, and productivity, and (b) spirituality in the workplace reduces employee burnout, stress, and workaholism (Karakas, 2010).  Several major organizations are beginning to show interest in bringing spiritual practices into the workplace framework.  Managers of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Wal-Mart have arranged God squads that consist of priests and ministers who advise employees on spiritual issues (Izak, 2009).  Organizations such as Coca-Cola, Intel, Sears, and Boeing are reported to have introduced spirituality into their strategies and culture (Karakas, 2010).  The Xerox Company has funded trips for employees to visit the American deserts so the employees can meditate and gain inspiration and creativity to develop new products (Izak, 2009).  Anita Roddick of the Body Shop invests 25% of the company’s profit back to the Glasgow community as a corporate social responsibility to keep the soul of the company alive (Karakas, 2010).  Tom’s of Maine gives 10% of the company’s pre-tax profit to charities and encourages its employees to engage in four hours of voluntary community work every month (Karakas, 2010).

Workplace Spirituality and Spirituality in the workplace are not mutually exclusive, it is the approach or strategy that is different. Workplace Spirituality is individualistic; a personal decision to bring positive values and principles to the workplace. Spirituality in the workplace is however, driven by the organization.

Below is the abstract from the dissertation: “Exploring the Role of Workplace Spirituality for Managers in Financial Institutions in Nigeria: A Case Study”

Managers play a major role in ensuring the practice of ethical behavior in organizations.  The problem addressed in this study was that bank failures in Nigeria have been associated with fraud, unethical behavior, and malpractices.  The purpose of this descriptive multiple qualitative case study was to explore the perceptions of managers regarding the role of spirituality of managers in banks in the Nigerian financial sector and its perceived influence on ethical behavior.  The sample study consisted of managers in three Banks in Nigeria, subordinates working under these managers, and executives supervising the managers.  A total of 39 participants were interviewed comprising of 18 managers, 18 subordinates, and three executive directors.  Purposive sampling was used in the selection of participants in each organization.  The findings from the study indicated that workplace spirituality is essential to preventing organizational malpractice, unethical behavior and fraud in banks, in Nigeria.  Managers, subordinates, and executives indicated that integrity, honesty, fairness, and professionalism were necessary for ethical practices in the banking sector.  The findings were consistent with claims of other researchers, and achieved the study purpose, which was to highlight the role of workplace spirituality in preventing fraud, unethical behavior and malpractice in banks.  The implications are that bank managers in Nigeria should practice the spiritual values, and encourage their subordinates to do likewise. This is considered possible through training or inclusion of ethics curricula in professional development programs for managers.  The recruitment of bank managers with a strong propensity towards spirituality and ethical values is also recommended to enhance workplace spirituality.  Building organizational culture on principles of ethics so that newly hired managers are put in the ethical environment is also recommended.  Future similar studies on the role of employee spirituality in preventing fraud, unethical behavior and malpractice in settings other than banks, other African countries, as well as non-African countries is recommended.  Quantitative studies such as the need to assess the existence, strength, and direction of potential relationship between the level of spirituality of managers in banks and the level of fraud, unethical behavior, and malpractice is also recommended.

 Other Studies

The findings are consistent with claims of other researchers.  Values identified in managers and leaders by other researchers include: honesty, love, trust, treating others with dignity, and caring relationship (Vasconcelos, 2011).  Ethics is related to a belief in God or a higher power, understanding, respect, honesty, openness, trust, kindness, team orientation, and interconnectedness (Altaf & Awan, 2011).  Ethical behavior can lead to loyalty, peace, love, peace, affection, and care (Usman & Danish, 2010b).  In addition, acting in an ethical manner is related to compassion, meditation, selfless service, right livelihood, and problems with pluralism (Phipps, 2012).  Other values related to ethics include self-transcendence, meaning, purpose, connectedness, love, affection, care, wholeness, affiliation, loyalty, meaningful work, hopefulness, authenticity, sense of community, respect for diversity, meditative work vision, mission, altruistic love, hope, and faith (Fry, 2003; Pandey et al., 2009; Pawar, 2008; Usman & Danish, 2010a) as well as honesty, increased creativity, commitment, and trust (Izak, 2012).

Nine spiritual values which influence ethical and moral behavior observed include: perfection, compassion, passion, inspiration, investigation, dedication, appreciation, determination, and cooperation (Karakas, 2010).  Ethical principles for individuals and organizations include: (a) honesty and integrity (McCraw et al., 2008), (b) openness and transparency (Christian & Gumbus, 2009), (c) confidentiality and respect for intellectual property (Rakichevikj et al., 2010), (d) mentoring and training (Clements, 2010), (e) nondiscrimination (Christian & Gumbus, 2009), (f) respect for colleagues, legality, and competence (McCraw et al., 2009; Christian & Gumbus, 2009), and (f) spirituality (Pandey et al., 2009).  Principles such as integrity, concern for other honesty, and fairness were observed to influence ethical behavior (Bello, 2012).


The Challenge:

What do you bring to the workplace, Spirituality or religion?

How do people see you in society, a spiritual person or a religious person?

The challenge with Nigeria is that there are too many religious people and few spiritual people. This explains the problem of corruption. If 98% of the population are either Christians or Muslims and both religion teach honesty; how do, we explain corruption except for more of religion and little of spirituality.

Let the debate begin!!!!!!







Exploring the Role of Workplace Spirituality for Managers in Financial Institutions in Nigeria: A Case Study, 2013, Doctorate Thesis Publication. ProQuest I.D – 3577313 –  http://gradworks.umi.com/35/77/3577313.html


Details of references not listed are in the dissertation.

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