Workplace Spirituality


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Workplace spirituality is a sophisticated concept (Kinjerski & Skrypnek, 2004). Generally speaking, it involves the sense of well-being, the feeling of the whole self involved in the work, the feeling of connection to others and something larger than oneself, and a sense of transcendence (Ashmos & Duchon, 2000; Ingersoll, 2010; Kinjerski & Skrypnek, 2004; Kinjerski, V. M., & Skrypnek, 2008; Rego & Pina e Cunha, 2008; Sheep, 2004). Individuals view their work as sacred (Ingersoll, 2010), while workplace spirituality is not necessary related to religion (Ashmos & Duchon, 2000; Krishnakumar & Neck, 2002; Milliman et al., 2003; Rego & Pina e Cunha, 2008). It can be regard to personal value or philosophy. This concept can be referred to self-actualization proposed by Maslow’s (1954) hierarchy of needs. Besides pursuing satisfaction of the basic levels in the hierarchy, individuals have desire to satisfy the higher level of need. Although earning money is the basic goal, individuals eager to find out the meaning in work, to make contribution to the society, to reach their full potential, to become connecting with colleagues, to work in an organization which they identify its goal and value (Kinjerski & Skrypnek, 2004).
Although a consistent definition in workplace spirituality has not been reached, mutuality in its definition delineated in literatures can be easily found. Sheep (2004) has been summed up into four themes. The first theme is self-workplace integration, that is the immersion of whole self into work. The second theme is meaning of work. People tend to find out meaning in their work. The meaning may be related to personal value, such as contributing to society and others, and go beyond monetary benefits. The third one is transcendence of self, connecting to something larger than self. This theme includes the connectedness to others, community, and the organization. The final theme is “personal growth and development of one’s inner life at work”. Organization can provide conditions for the growth and development of employees.
Despite various perspectives about workplace spirituality, three dimensions were focused in the present study. The model proposed by Milliman et al. (2003) was adopted. In this model, workplace spirituality includes three levels, namely individual, community and organization. This model embraces two above mentioned theme such as meaning of work and transcendence of self.
In the individual level of workplace spirituality, meaningfulness in work is involved in this level. People are motivated to actively search for and give meaning to their lives (Ashmos & Duchon, 2000; Frankl, 1992; Lips-Wiersma & Morris, 2009).

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Work is a mean to fulfill one’s desire to have a meaningful life and to make contribution to others. Some people may even view their work as “calling” (Dik & Duffy, 2009). Their calling is not necessary religion-based, rather, they have secular view to their calling (Steger, Pickering, Shin, & Dik, 2010). They think their job is meaningful that they can make contributions to others. This pro-social thought is not only possessed by those of social service occupation. Employees in any occupation can have a sense of calling (Dik & Duffy, 2009). This level of workplace spirituality can also be delineated in terms of person-job fit as one type of fit is need-supplies fit (Kristof-Brown, Zimmerman, & Johnson, 2005). People have desire to have meaningful life (Frankl, 1992) and workplace provides opportunities to people to fulfill their needs.
In the community level, it involves the relationship between an individual and colleagues. Human is motivated to form bond and stable relationship with others (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). The connection in workplace can be from one’s inner self to other’s inner self. This connection can be seen through the support and caring between colleagues. The individual trusts their colleagues. The colleagues treat each other genuinely and with their whole heart. Burroughs and Eby (1998) postulated that the sense of community in workplace includes six dimensions: coworker support, emotional safety, sense of belonging, spiritual bond, team orientation, and truthtelling. In high level of the sense of community, the colleagues should provide selfless support to each other. Individuals feel trustworthy and emotional secured with their colleagues. They are honest to their colleagues, and are open-mind to coworkers’ opinions. They have the feeling that they are a part of community and have a mutual goal. Their actions and decisions are based on their moral sense.
For the organization level, employees feel positive toward the organization in terms of its value (Milliman et al., 2003). Their value is congruent with the value of organization. It seems to be similar with “person-organization fit” in traditional occupational psychology, while workplace spirituality focuses on the ethic and conscience of organization and organizational support provided to employees. Employees accept the value of organization. Employees identify with organization that it obtains strong moral sense. The organization is not only interested in getting profit. Welfare of employees and community is also concerned.



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