Does spirituality belong at work?

I recently heard of a talk at the St. James Coffee house regarding "Spirituality at Work." Just hearing the topic of discussion intrigued me.

Do people do things differently at work if they have spirituality and bring it to work? I look back at my years of working, and I wonder if I had spirituality at work or am I completely misunderstanding what it means.

My first thought is that spirituality is different than religion, but I had to get the thoughts of other women, which I would like to share.

A local coach shared, "We do not talk spiritual matters with each other as coaches, nor do we with the kids. If a question or comment is made, as it usually does around the holidays, I acknowledge that families all celebrate differently. However, I feel this is more about religion. Now, do I stop and pray at work? Not enough. If I am faced with angry parents or upset kids then I do try to stop, center myself and pray for wisdom and peace from God to get me through the particularly tough instances."

A real estate agentshares, "Some people are spiritual and some people have a spiritual identity. The people who are spiritual seem authentic whether in the workplace or with family and friends. They bring their integrity and compassionto how they work with their colleagues and customers."


Finally, a woman who has years of experience in the non-profit world stated: "To the degree that spirituality is about finding meaning and purpose, I would say that the third sector, or not-for-profit sector, has this hands down!I say that mainly because we work for mission-driven organizations that are called to do work to serve others and improve society. Certain values govern our organizations making that work possible.It's almost like a calling.I would say that for-profit businesses can say the very same thing if they believe they exist to provide a service and help others, first, and earn a profit, second."

So, is spirituality about bringing fulfillment to a job or is it about praying at work? I have found that it can have many meanings.

According to Fortune Magazine, 78 percent of Americans feel a need to experience spiritual growth -- and half of them say they openly talk about such spiritual needs at work.

In researching this, I found several categories that can incorporate spirituality at work.

• God-centered approach. Hundreds of organizations and companies dedicate time and resources to bringing God-centered spirituality into the workplace. Mostly Christian, these organizations seek to strengthen employee faith in God and to further His work in the world. The God-centered approach to spirituality, for the most part, concentrates on spreading the faith and extending a helping hand to those in need.

• Ethical approach. The ethical approach to workplace spirituality focuses on cultivating values that inspire us to be noble and decent in how we engage our jobs and professions. This approach to spirituality centers on values, exploring those that drive current business practices, like efficiency, material wealth and competition, and cultivating those that at times may be overlooked, like honesty, fairness, respect and compassion.

• Existential approach. This approach to workplace spirituality centers on finding and preserving meaning in our jobs and careers. Millions of people around the world find themselves leading futile lives trapped in a harsh and, at times, dehumanizing relationship with work. This approach to spirituality focuses on social activism, preserving the valuable human aspect of work and preventing dehumanizing business practices by helping workers protect what is meaningful and valuable to themselves and their families.

Kristen Asleson is an administrative specialist with Express Employment Professionals in Rochester. Send comments and ideas to

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