American Workers Value Spirituality on the Job

May 23, 2002
One-third of American workers claim that spirituality has increased in the workplace since September 11.

Spiritual concerns play an important role in the day-to-day work-lives of more than half of all American workers, according to a new survey, which reveals that more than 55 percent of working Americans consider spirituality to play a "very significant" or "important" role on the job. More than one-third - 34 percent - say this role has increased since September 11. An additional 16 percent of those surveyed said spirituality plays at least some role in the workplace, while 28 percent said it plays a minor role or no role at all.

The ACT-1 Workplace Spirituality Study, which was conducted by MarketFacts TeleNation of Chicago for ACT-1 Group, an industry leader in managed services and human resource solutions, asked more than 650 employed Americans how large a role spirituality plays in their day-to-day work-lives, and if that role has changed since the events of September 11.

Overall, the findings show that women, workers in the South and those between the ages of 35 and 64 tend to care most about spirituality on the job.

"It's clear that many Americans incorporate spiritual elements into their lives that aren't left at the door when they go to work," says Janice Bryant Howroyd, chairman, CEO and founder, ACT-1 Group. "However it's defined, spirituality is something that shapes who we are as people and how we make decisions. Increasingly, Americans are taking that sensibility with them to the office or job site."

She adds the study findings should prove especially useful for companies that want to retain their employees and keep them productive and satisfied at work. "Employers need a deeper understanding of the filters their workers use to help shape their perspectives and make the ethical and moral decisions they face on the job every day. Organizations should be open to assuming a role in spiritual matters that many have traditionally regarded as off-limits," adds Bryant Howroyd.

Although the Northeast was most tangibly affected by the events of 9/11, respondents from the South represented the highest regional increase (37 percent) of those reporting a change in the importance of spirituality at work. The Northeast and West followed with 35 and 33.5 percent, respectively.

"The workplace isn't peripheral to the fallout of 9/11, it's central - symbolically and practically," believes Bryant Howroyd. "While it's revealing that one-third of the workers surveyed believe spirituality is more important today than it was on September 10, it's even more telling to consider the two-thirds who say it has stayed the same. To me, this means that spirituality has been present in the workplace all along. The events of September 11 certainly amplified this trend, but they did not create it."

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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