Spirituality at Workplace: As Seen by Indian Managers.

AuthorYadav, Rama Shankar


Workplace Spirituality as a field of inquiry is young and relatively new (Sheep, 2006; Gotsis & Kortezi, 2008). Till date there is no universal definition of workplace spirituality (Gotsis & Kortezi, 2008). Extant literature from West investigating spirituality at workplace has defined it as a highly personal construct involving values, wholeness and connectedness with the larger world (Gibbons, 2000). Almost every researcher accepts that spirituality is a multidimensional construct and it involves service-oriented mentality, community-orientation, compassion and forgiveness, morality and meaning (Mahoney & Graci, 1999). Based on the review of existing literature work Petchsawang & Duchon (2009) identified five major dimensions of spirituality: a) compassion, b) meaningful work, c) mindfulness, d) compassion and e) transcendence. Many other researchers have identified similar components of spirituality as identified by Mahoney and Graci (1999).

Referring to the constructs of spirituality in details compassion involves sympathy (Twigg & Parayitam, 2006), mutual caring (Delgado, 2005) and a will to relieve the sufferers from the suffering. Meaningful work is an experience in which one finds his/her work as a significant and meaningful part of his life. This meaning gives a sense of joy and goes far beyond the materialistic rewards (Duchon & Plowman, 2005). Mindfulness is a state of inner consciousness in which one is completely aware of his/her thoughts and actions (Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2004).This inner consciousness helps him/her to control and manifest emotions and behavior in a better way. Connection has been defined as a sense of connection with coworkers and anonymous others (Duchon & Plowman, 2005), and Transcendence is a sense of being in connection with some higher power not necessarily God (Delaney, 2005). This connection is believed to bring positive energy, transcendence and feeling of bliss in an individual.

Saroglou, Pichon, Trompette, Verschueren & Dernelle (2005) found that spiritual people often display helping behavior towards all sentient beings including anonymous others, hence, indicating that spiritual people are more likely to develop a culture which nourishes cooperation and collaboration among the coworkers ultimately leading to harmonious relationship among them. This harmonious relationship increases the overall satisfaction at workplace and reduced intention to quit (Podsakoff, Ahearne & MacKenzie, 1998).

Spirituality at workplace is driven by the personal values and beliefs rather than some religious ideology (Mitroff & Denton, 1999). In details it includes efforts aiming at achieving the ultimate purpose of one's life, developing a strong sense of relatedness with one's coworkers and having concordance between personal and organizational values and beliefs (Mitroff & Denton, 1999).Literature mentions that workplaces which foster spirituality perform better than those who do not. Neck and Milliman (1994) found that spirituality is positively related to organizational performance. Organizations promoting the spiritual well-being of their employees are high on creativity, performance, satisfaction and organizational commitment (Brandt, 1996; McCormick, 1994).

Spirituality has been majorly studied in the western context (Petchsawang & Duchon, 2009). Only two significant studies measuring spirituality in eastern context are evident, one explores spirituality in Thailand (Petchsawang & Duchon, 2009) and the other in Indian contexts exploring the meaning of spiritual orientation (Singh & Premarajan, 2007). The study of Singh and Premarajan (2007) identifies six components of spiritual orientation. These are:a) service towards mankind, b) feeling of peace, c) being vision, d) inter connectedness, e) respect for others and f) self-awareness. Whereas the components identified by Petchsawang & Duchon (2009) are a) compassion, b) meaningful work, c) mindfulness, d) compassion and e) transcendence. Since the factors identified in the two studies are different it gives us opportunity to explore the meaning of spirituality in the Indian context.

Thus, the knowledge obtained from previous research gives us opportunities to explore a few rarely explored questions such as meaning of workplace spirituality in Indian contexts as perceived by Indian employees. Is spirituality perceived different from religion of an individual? What is the impact of spiritual individual at the workplace? Hence, the aim of this study is: a) identify the meaning of workplace spirituality as perceived by Indian employees and b) identifying the attributes of a spiritual individual and its impact on workplace.

Spirituality at Work

Spirituality differs from individual to individual and context to context (Sheep, 2006: 358). As identified by Freke (2000) spirituality encases selflessness, love, morality, acceptance, personal growth, forgiveness, positivity. Spiritual has been defined as: a) something related to one's inner self, b) basic value which anchors all other values, c) core of life which guides you, and d) transcendental dimension of human nature (Thibault, Ellor & Netting, 1991). Spirituality includes sense of community, spiritual connection and meaningfulness in work (Kinjerski & Skrypnek, 2006). At large workplace spirituality covers a sense of connectedness with coworkers, meaningfulness in work, compassion and love, belief in transcendental power (Mitroff & Denton, 1999; Ashmos & Duchon, 2000; Petchsawang & Duchon, 2009).

As spirituality is a contextual phenomenon and it varies from individual to individual and culture to culture, thus it becomes relevant to explore the meaning of spirituality in the Indian context. Scholars studying spirituality have unanimously emphasized the importance of inner self while explaining spirituality. Since the concept of self and identity is different in India as compared to western context (Wolter, 2012; Wallace, 2001). In the West creator and the created are distinct like potter and the pots; on the contrary in the East the creator is not distinct from the created (Wolter, 2012). Hence, it becomes relevant to explore the meaning of spirituality in Indian context.

India is a secular country comprising four major religions namely Hindu, Muslims, Christian and Sikhs unlike West where the majority of the population is Christian. Thus, this demographic scenario can generate different understanding about spirituality as compared to West. Apart from demographic differences Indians are on the higher side of the collectivist dimension as compared to the West (Hofstede, 1983). We divide the culture on the basis of collectivist and individualistic similarly at individual level it is allocentrism and idiocentrism, respectively (Triandis, Leung, Villareal &amp...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT