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Today, companies like Ford, Nike, Adidas, AT&T, Panda Express and Taco Bell incorporate some form of spirituality into their workplace. It’s easy to understand why. Spirituality proves to directly contribute to peoples’ lives in constructive and healthy ways, both at work and at home.

Please take note, workplace spirituality is not about bringing religion into the office or requiring that employees chant mantras at their workstations. Rather, spirituality is a way for people to have a direct sense of meaning and purpose to their work and a genuine emotional connection between them and the company.

Spirituality is the quality of being concerned with the human spirit as opposed to material things. Most companies have their entire attention and total intention on material things - those things that can be measured or quantified - their strategic plan’s quarterly, yearly, three and five-year goals; sales targets, closure percentages, KPIs, SOPs, performance reviews, balance sheets, budgets, individual and team goals, 360’s, the number of “open’s” or “likes.” The charts, the graphs, the numbers.

Spirituality is not physical or material, and therefore cannot be measured. For many companies, if it can’t be measured, it can’t be calibrated. If it can’t be calibrated, it can’t be scaled. If it can’t be measured, calibrated and scaled, it is considered unimportant, sending spirituality to the bottom of the priority list.

Nonetheless, according to a rather large volume of literature, the impact of spirituality on companies is profound. The basic conclusion by many investigators is spirituality delivers a significant positive impact on employee and customer relations, and the employee’s performance and wellbeing.

The question is, even with these consistently proven results, why aren’t more companies providing spiritual enrichment for their employees?

Why, because most senior executives, investors, and board directors collapse religion and spirituality, and they don’t want religion on the ‘shop floor.’


While religion and spirituality aren’t diametrically opposite, neither are they the same. To bring in workplace spirituality, you first need to understand the difference between religion and spirituality.

By definition, religion is an institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices, that serve and worship God or the supernatural. Spirituality, on the other hand, elicits a direct experience of connection to something larger than oneself in a reverential manner. 

Intrinsic to the structures of religion, religion has an ‘outside-in’ framework; God out there and the person over here whereas spirituality is an ‘inside-out’ job. Spirituality is about the person discovering who they are and finding their purpose. It’s about here. it’s about now. It’s about responsibility. it’s about who I am and who I can be.

As Christina Puchalski, MD, a leader in incorporating spirituality into healthcare, puts it, “Spirituality is the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and the significant or sacred." []


Holy Man vs Man

Another difference between religion and spirituality is religions have spiritual founders based upon the lives, teachings, and beliefs of a historical or archetypal figure (e.g., Christ, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, Muhammad). The details of their lives as holy and highly evolved beings carried across time through oral tradition and written scriptures. These figures are the subject of worship and devotion as part of the foundation of respective religions.

On the other hand, spiritual aspirants follow the advice of the Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” There are no figures to worship in spirituality. Finding out about one’s own self is a pillar of spirituality. Spirituality aims at the human spirit, not the holy spirit.


Object vs No-Object Experience

On the whole, formal religions have direct “object” experiences, something that can be seen and touched, as part of the religion. In other words, religion involves some external physical items - buildings of worship (churches, synagogues, kivas or Mosques), books of scripture, statues, paintings, decorations, stained glass windows, religious symbols. Each religion has got its own ‘material.’ All religions inherently have an object-experience as some part of their structures.

Spirituality doesn’t associate itself with any objects. Spirituality is self-referential and highly individualized. Spirituality is an inward journey that involves a shift in awareness rather than some form of external activity. Spirituality doesn’t need anything material.


Many vs One

In nearly all religions there is a congregation of some kind, people, a group, go through the same liturgy and rituals. In spirituality, there is a congregation of one going through their own experience. Spirituality is an individual event. Everyone is different, so each unfolding is unique.

In religion, your intention is expressed through mutually shared practices, objects and figureheads. Whereas in spirituality, your intention is directed to your soul, higher self, or divinity within. In religion, people want to connect with God. In spirituality, people want to more deeply connect with themselves.


Spirituality leans heavily on direct experience. Spiritual practices such as meditation, yoga, and reflection allow people to make conscious contact with more expanded states of consciousness. But in my training and consulting, I am acutely aware the market exists in a business ecosystem, where time is money.

Spirituality has an experiential component. The experiences validate the personal lessons-learned rather than accepting them on faith alone. You know something because you have tasted the experience yourself and have allowed it to resonate, as opposed to taking the word of some authority.

Our findings over the last 30 years incorporating spirituality into daily business practices and infusing it into the corporate culture greatly impact employees’ wellbeing, level of satisfaction, and enhanced performance levels. It seems clear that spirituality has a definite value-added for any business.

In religion, your intention is to external practices, objects and figureheads. Whereas in spirituality, your intention is to your soul, higher self, or divinity within. In religion, people want to connect with God. In spirituality, people want to connect with themselves.

By improving your organization’s spirituality climate, you will improve organizational performance. This occurs because people react reciprocally towards an organization that satisfies their spiritual needs, allows them to experience a sense of psychological safety, makes them feel that they are valued as human beings and that they deserve respectful treatment, and allows them to experience senses of purpose, self‐determination, enjoyment and belonging.


Might want to check out our program “Workplace Spirituality: Adding Soul to Your Business”

More than Enough Research References

The interlace between spirituality and well being is impressively acknowledged (George, Larson, Koeing and McCollough, 2000; Pacoutzion, Emmons and Keortge, 2003). Research strongly supports to the viewpoint that the experience of spirituality at work produces more fulfilling lives to individuals as well as positive organizational outcomes (Fairholm, 1997; Geon, 2003; Kinjerski, 2004; Kinjerski and Shrypnek,2006; Milliman et al. 2002; Mitroff and Denton, 1999; Moxley, 2000). Spirit at work was reported to acts as an antidote to disengagement and disenchantment at work (Kinjerski and Shrynek, 2006). McGhee and Grant  (2008), have similarly advanced the concept that spiritual individuals are more ethical in business, thereby resulting in teamwork and fairness (Biberman and Whittey, 1997), along with greater awareness for the needs of other employees (Cash and Gray, 2000). Increased honesty and trustworthiness at the workplace was reported (Brown, 2000), enhanced indices of organizational citizenship behaviors - OCB’s (Nurr and Organ, 2006), and evidence of enhanced servant leadership (Beezley and Gemmil, 2006).

Suggest you Google – Business and Spirituality. I stopped reading abstracts and articles on the 15th page of citings.

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