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Spirituality in the Workplace: A Conceptual Approach toward Integration
Tracy H. Porter, Sharon E Norris

Last modified: 2011-09-07




In recent years there has been increased interest in the construct of spirituality among scholars (Cavanaugh, 1999), practitioners (Laabs, 1996), and the public (Zukav, 1989). Spirituality has been described in numerous ways by theorists in an effort to develop a strong theoretical definition. Fairholm (1997) describes spirituality as, “the essence of who we are” (p. 6). Other theorists consider spirituality to be the source of all thoughts, feelings, values and behaviors (Anderson, 2000; Fairholm, 1997; Fukuyama & Sevig, 1999; Harpham, 1999, Hawley, 1993; Neal, 2004, Neck & Milliman, 1994; Spohn, 1997). Clemmons (2008) describes spirituality through a connection with personal values.

 Spirituality is believed to affect the way in which individuals perceive themselves and others in society ( DiPadova, 1998; Elkins, Hedstrom, Hughes, Leaf & Saunders, 1988; Guare, 1998; Lerner, 1998, Mitroff & Denton, 1999a, 1999b; Neck & Milliman, 1994), how they value their place in society (Fairholm, 1997; Harpham, 1999; G. Morgan, 1986; Neal, 1997; Neck & Milliman, 1994), and how they apply meaning in their lives and in their work (Fairholm, 1997; King & Nicol, 1999; Neck & Milliman, 1994; Wagner-Marsh & Conley, 1998).

During the last few decades there has been surge in the interest in spirituality in the workplace. Individuals from all walks of life have expressed a desire to demonstrate their spirituality at work (Kantrowitz, King, Rosenberg, Springen, Wingert, Namuth & Gegax, 1994).  Contemporary research surrounding spirituality is believed by many theorists to affect the way in which people perceive themselves and others, how they value their work, and how they apply meaning in their lives (Fairholm, 1997; Neal, 1997; Neck & MIlliaman, 1994; Mitroff & Denton, 1999).  In fact, a growing number of organizations are building spirituality into their corporate strategies and cultures (Burack, 1999; Konz & Ryan, 1999; Milliman, Ferguson, Trickett & Condemi, 1999). 

Numerous theorists have determined the inclusion of spirituality within organizations offer many benefits such as increased morale, creativity, commitment, service,  compassion, trust, ethical behavior; personal and professional growth, team and culture building and increased ability to cope with change and uncertainty (Biberman & Whittey, 1997; Cacioppe, 2000; Cavangh, 1999; DiPadova, 1998; Elmes & Smith, 2001; Hawley, 1993; Klenke & Guare, 1998; Mitroff & Denton, 1999; Neal, 1997; Neck& Milliman, 1994). Mitroff and Denton (1999) found spiritual organizations are more profitable, more caring and more ethical. According to Bell (2007) spirituality will aid in reducing organizational conflict and in increasing cohesiveness.




Workplace Spirituality, Culture