Workplace spirituality or spirituality in the workplace is a movement that began in the early 1920s. It emerged as a grassroots movement with individuals seeking to live their faith and/or spiritual values in the workplace. Spiritual or spirit-centered leadership is a topic of inquiry frequently associated with the workplace spirituality movement.
The movement began primarily as U.S. centric but has become much more international in recent years. Key organizations include:
- International Center for Spirit at Work (ICSW)
- European Baha'i Business Forum (EBBF)
- World Business Academy (WBA)
- Spiritual Business Network (SBN)
- Foundation for Workplace Spirituality
Key factors that have led to this trend include:
- Mergers and acquisitions destroyed the psychological contract that workers had a job for life. This led some people to search for more of a sense of inner security rather than looking for external security from a corporation.
- Baby Boomers hitting middle age resulting in a large demographic part of the population asking meaningful questions about life and purpose.
- The millennium created an opportunity for people all over the world to reflect on where the human race has come from, where it is headed in the future, and what role business plays in the future of the human race.
In the late 1990s, the Academy of Management formed a special interest group called the Management, Spirituality and Religion Interest Group. This is a professional association of management professors from all over the world who are teaching and doing research on spirituality and religion in the workplace.
Different theories over the years have influenced the development of workplace spirituality.
- Spiritual Leadership Theory (2003): developed within an intrinsic motivation model that incorporates vision, hope/faith, and altruistic love
- Social Exchange Theory (1964): which attempts to explain the social factors which affect the interaction of the person in a reciprocal relationship
- Identity Theory (1991): claims a connection between workplace spirituality and organizational engagement
The International Center for Spirit at Work offers examples of workplace spirituality including:
- "Vertical" spirituality, transcending the day-to-day and developing connectedness to a god or spirit or the wider universe. This might include meditation rooms, accommodation of personal prayer schedules, moments of silence before meetings, retreats or time off for spiritual development, and group prayer or reflection.
- "Horizontal" spirituality, which involves community service, customer service, environmentalism, compassion, and a strong sense of ethics or values that are reflected in products and services.