Spirit at Work

by Sue Howard


Since the late 1980s there has been a surge of publications, conferences, workshops and books on the topic of spirituality in organisations. Workplace spirituality has emerged as being a topic of considerable interest and importance for organisations. The Academy of Management (the US academic forum for management researchers) has recognised its importance by creating an interest group on management, spirituality and religion, and this field is now a legitimate new paradigm for organisational research and study.

Organisational spirituality explores questions such as

  • How do employees feel about work?
  • How does the work that employees do fit with what they really want to do?
  • How can work be made more meaningful?
  • What can leaders do to help employees be more fulfilled, motivated and engaged in the work they do?
  • How can organisations work in ways that are better for people, the environment and the planet?

Definitions abound, but a useful one is provided by Judi Neal:


Spirituality in the workplace is about people seeing their work as a spiritual path, as an opportunity to grow personally and to contribute to society in a meaningful way. It is about learning to be more caring and compassionate with fellow employees, bosses, subordinates and customers. It is about integrity, being true to oneself and telling the truth to others. It means attempting to live your values more fully in your work. It can refer to the ways in which organisations structure themselves to support the spiritual development of their employees.

Organisational spirituality is about profound change: exploring and attempting to apply no lesser an ideal than the Spiritual Transformation of Capitalism!


Powerful trends are re-inventing free enterprise:

  • The power of spirituality
  • The dawn of conscious capitalism
  • Leading from the middle
  • Spirituality in business
  • The values-driven consumer
  • The wave of conscious solutions
  • The socially responsible investment boom

The English word spirit comes from the Latin spiritus, meaning ‘breath’ – the life-giving force or energy.

You cannot reach your potential as a leader, if you are not using your potential as a human being first.

Jay Sidhu, Chairman and CEO, Bancorp

Spirituality is part of being human. Therefore, spirituality is relevant to every aspect of life – business, medicine, psychology, economics and politics. The transformational perspective it offers is in our awareness that our ‘inner’ spiritual life (our being) shapes the way we engage in everyday activities (our doing).

Organisational spirituality is an ongoing learning journey shared by theorists and practitioners – both exploring the varied ways (methods, approaches, processes) that are enabling the previously un-discussable area of spirituality to be shared openly as part of work.