The role of HR in promoting workplace spirituality

The View From Taft
Jose Mari L. Yupangco

Posted on July 20, 2017

Workplace Spirituality (WS) has created increased interest and awareness in corporations worldwide. With our complex, conflicting, demanding, stressful, or boring (repetitive) work, most of us are forced to seek ways of achieving personal soundness and inner strength.

Why has WS become a recurring subject in the business world? Is WS just a fad? What is the role of the Human Resource (HR) function of an organization in promoting WS?

More than seventy definitions of spirituality can be found in academic journals. However, management scholars agree on the following four common traits of spirituality: 1) It originates from inside an individual; 2) It exhibits connectedness; 3) It provides purpose and meaning; and 4) It is associated with a “higher power.”

A common misunderstanding is that spirituality and religion are one and the same. Although believed to be compatible with each other, spirituality is considered as non-denominational and is a universal human feeling while religion is considered as more of adherence to certain beliefs, rituals, or practices. Thus, it would seem that that spirituality is a requisite for religion while religion is not a requisite for spirituality.

Despite being an abstract concept, WS has been chronicled by Newsweek, Time, Fortune, and Business Week because of its growing presence in the corporate world. While books on WS have increased by more than three times during the two 10-year periods ending in 1998 and 2008, journal articles have increased by almost five times during the same period.

Because we spend a large part of our lives in the workplace, business leaders are called upon to focus their attention on the processes of community among business stakeholders (e.g., the moral and ethical conduct of their employees). Some positive values that come to mind are wholeness, integrity, honesty, respect, equality, empathy, trust, openness, and stewardship.

Among the different Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) processes, identifying and implementing HR strategies are the most important. HR plays a vital role in providing a meaningful workplace to its employees.

A good example is to consider the impact of employees’ connecting or incorporating their spiritual values into a company’s vision, mission, and values, or how spirituality in the workplace can provide purpose and meaning to its employees. Another example would be HR strategies to promote positive practices and behavior that can create a culture of work-life balance in the workplace.

Some management scholars suggest a link between WS and enhanced individual creativity, increased honesty and trust within the organization, enhanced sense of personal fulfilment of employees, and increased commitment to organizational goals, all of which ultimately increase organizational performance, profits, and success.

With about 90% of Filipinos identifying themselves as Christians (and about 80% identifying themselves as Roman Catholics), it is important to understand how WS, if properly implemented, can help many businesses in the Philippines.

Jose Mari L. Yupangco is a Doctor of Business Administration student at De La Salle University. He is also the former President of the Business Doctoral Society (BDS) of the DLSU Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business.