Spirit at Work

by Sue Howard

How does workplace chaplaincy fit into this?

Industrial Chaplains offer a safe space in which those who may have questions about their spiritual life or who need someone to talk to beyond their line manager and work colleagues can be listened to and supported. This service can be for those who already identify with certain religious beliefs, such as Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Interfaith (or even Pagan); alternatively, it can simply be used by someone is experiencing difficulties in life (such as death in the family or divorce) or has other problems or challenges.

Some organisations, such as Hospitals, Prisons and Detention Centres for failed refugees, have a statutory duty to employ workplace chaplains. Increasingly, these posts are carrying new titles, such as Manager of Religious Affairs (signifying a multi-faith perspective) or Manager of Cultural and Religious Affairs, signifying an even wider responsibility to those of no faith and wider cultural backgrounds.

In fact, all workplace chaplains are primarily there to work with the whole workforce and sometimes the customers too. Therefore they are not there to preach or convert people to a religion, but rather to listen to people and provide help and support where they can. That said, if asked a question about their own faith, they are of course entitled to talk about it.

In the past, workplace chaplains (or industrial chaplains) tended to be clergy who were paid by the church to undertake this work. Increasingly, the church is finding it lacks the funds for this work and is therefore either seeking volunteers (paid parish clergy as an additional role or lay people). It is also beginning to receive some major contributions from the clients (employers). This is likely to increasingly become the norm as church funding shrinks.

An example would be Workplace Matters that are running workplace ministry in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, with 50 volunteer part-time chaplains, run by two paid seconded leaders (one from Anglican Church and one from URC) and a third leader running London Luton Airport’s chaplains, paid half by the airport and half by the sponsoring churches. There are six sponsoring churches – Baptist, Church of England, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and United Reform Church.

In many other places in the UK, workplace ministry or industrial chaplaincy, if it exists at all, is funded by just one church, often having one sponsored full-time chaplain, possibly with some volunteer part-time chaplains.

Workplace Matters

Workplace Matters was formed in 2011 to expand the traditional offering of pure chaplaincy in organisations. Chaplaincy typically provides pastoral support to all, but Workplace Matters has expanded this offering in order to support organisational and leadership development through its consultancy arm. The combined expertise available through Workplace Matters can help organisations to understand spirituality and how to work with it, releasing the performance outcome of people becoming more fulfilled and engaged in the work that they do.

Workplace Matters organisational consultants have a passion for the creation of spiritually healthy work environments. They can help organisations to become more conscious of the ways in which spirit underpins work, and can help people and organisations decide ‘what to do with spirituality’ and take the first steps. By operating as catalysts they bring energy, experience and courage to take risks and try new things in order to release meaning and purpose, creativity, enthusiasm and engagement. Their approach can include pragmatic work around the organisational mission, support with setting a new vision and strategic goals, as well as various learning and development initiatives for example, action research, action learning, workshop facilitation, coaching and mentoring. 

See Workplace Matters for more information.