Spirituality in the workplace : the emerging role of meaning in the workplace, and how spirituality addresses this need

De Witt, Stephen (2005-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2005.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study report addresses the emerging role of meaning in the workplace, and how spirituality meets this need. The conclusion is drawn that each person's interpretation of meaning is informed by their unique experience of reality, and that the path of self-actualisation gives a sense of purpose to the lives of individuals. More particularly, Frankl's concept of logotherapy proposes that people find meaning when they are future-orientated. The absence of meaning leads to an existential vacuum, a phenomena experienced individually, and collectively by whole societies. The latter causes a state of boredom or meaninglessness, a malaise that so profoundly inflicts the modern age. Numerous management surveys report that the majority want to find meaning in their work. However at times this seems at odds with the organisation's aims. This is partly the result of contending worldviews: scientific rationality versus non-physical models of the universe. The former suggests that the universe is made of separate physical matter, while the latter encourages interconnectedness. The paradigm of separateness pits employers against employees and does not entertain or prioritise individual aspirations to meaning within the workplace environment. Consequently employees become dispirited as evidenced in low productivity, rising absenteeism and low morale. The argument is made for a fundamental societal transition that embraces a spiritual perspective of reality. Consensus is reached that spirituality refers to a feeling of interconnectedness between all things underpinned by a basic harmony in the design of the universe. Some ascribe transcendence or divinity to this process. Individuals use spirituality to integrate their inner self to the known world and beyond. Spirituality itself is purposeful and therefore is an end in itself. As such it is the antidote to meaninglessness. Studies have shown that a new generation of first world people, particularly Americans, ascribe to new values of work, success, consumption and spirituality, rejecting the hedonism and materialism of the X generation. From this informal movement come new terms like Spiritual Intelligence (SQ). Altruism and self-actualisation are eagerly embraced in a new sense of the sacred that incorporates personal growth psychology, the spiritual realm and service to others. Sweeping social and economical changes, including downsizing, mergers, globalisation, the threat of terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, and Enron-type debacles are all contributing to business's spiritual awakening. In order to cope with increased stress and alienation, both managers and employees seek meaning and purpose in the workplace. Bringing spirituality into the workplace benefits all stakeholders as productivity improves and multiple bottom lines improve. This process is occurring rapidly in many different guises in orqanisations across the first world. Both individual and organisation-centred approaches towards transformation predominate. The end result is organisations that align personal and workplace spirituality, providing meaning and fulfilment to many. This study report provides numerous examples and brief case studies from across the world, including practical guidance for implementing and measuring workplace spirituality. The conclusion speculates on whether the movement is a passing fad or a real attempt at genuine transformation based on universal spiritual principles.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studieprojek spreek die tevoorskynkoming van sinrykheid in die werksplek aan en hoe dit die behoefte spiritueël tegemoetkom word. Die gevolgtrekking word gemaak dat elke persoon se interpretasie van sinrykheid gevorm word deur hulle unieke ervaring van realiteit en dat die pad van selfaktualisering 'n gevoel van sin toevoeg tot die lewens van individue. In die besonder stel Frankl se konsep van logoterapie voor dat mense doel vind sodra hulle toekomsgerig is. Die afwesigheid van doel lei tot 'n eksistensiële vakuum, 'n verskynsel wat individueel ervaar word, en gesamentlik deur gemeenskappe. Die laasgenoemde veroorsaak 'n staat van verveligheid of doelloosheid, 'n onbehaaglikheid wat die moderne gang diepsinnig kwel. Talle bestuursopnames doen verslag dat die meerderheid sin wil vind in hulle werk. Nietemin staan dit somtyds in stryd met die organisasie se oogmerke. Dit is deels die gevolg van strydende wêreld opvattinge: wetenskaplikke rasionaliteit teenoor die nie-fisiese wêreldmodelle. Die eersgenoemde stel voor dat die wêreld bestaan uit afsondelike fisiese materie, terwyl die laasgenoemde interverbinding voorstaan. Die paradigma van afsonderlikheid kuil werkgewer en werknemer teen mekaar op en trakteer of prioritiseer nie individuele aspirasies tot sin in die werkplek omgewing nie. Gevolglik raak werknemers ontmoedig soos bewys deur lae produktiwiteit, toenemende afwesigheid en lae moraal. Die argument ontstaan ten gunste van 'n fundementele gemeenskaplike oorganklikheid wat 'n spirituele perspektief van realiteit omvat. Daar bestaan konsensus dat spiritualiteit verwys na 'n gevoel van interverbintenis tussen alle dinge onderstut deur 'n basiese harmonie in die wêreldbestel. Sommige skryf voortreflikheid of geestelikheid toe tot hierdie proses. Individue gebruik spiritualiteit om die innerlike self te integreer tot die bekende en verby. Spiritualiteit is doelgerig en is in sigself 'n doel. Dit is dus 'n teenmiddel tot doelloosheid. Studies het bewys dat 'n nuwe generasie van eerste-wêreld mense, bepalend die Amerikaners, toeskryf tot nuwe waardes van werk, sukses, verbruik en spiritualiteit, wat die hedonistiese en materialisme van die X-generasie verwerp. Deur hierdie informele beweging kom nuwe terme soos Spirituele Intelligensie tot stand. Altruisme en selfaktualisering word gretig ontvang in 'n nuwe gewaarwording van die heilige wat persoonlike sielkundige groei, die spirituele realm en diens tot andere inkorporeer. Verrykende sosiale en ekonomiese verandering, insluitende personeelvermindering, samesmeltings, globalisering, bedryging van terrorisme sedert die 9/11 aanval en die Enron-tipe fiasco dra alles by tot spirituele ontwaking van besighede. Ten einde by te hou met die vergrotende stres en vervreemding, word beide werkgewer en werknemer genoop tot die soeke na sinrykheid en doel in die werkplek. Die totstandbrenging van spiritualiteit in die wekplek bevoordeel alle insethouers en produktiwiteit verhoog en die multi onderlyne vergroot. Hierdie proses kom vinnig onder verskeie maskers in organisasies oor die eerste wêreld voor. Beide individuele en organisatories-sentreerde benaderings tot die transformasie heers. Die eindresultaat is organisasies wat persoonlike en werkplek spiritualiteit spoor en sinrykheid en bevrediging aan die menigte voorsien. Hierdie studieprojek voorsien menige voorbeelde en kort gevallestudies vanoor die wêreld, insluitende praktiese voorligting vir implementering en maatstawwe vir werkplek spiritualiteit. Die slotsom spekuleer of die beweging 'n verbygaande gier is of 'n ware poging tot opregte transformasie is gebaseer op universele spirituele beginsels.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/50452
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