Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spirituality in Business

I was recently called to assist a firm in Miami named Sonshine Communications. The communications and public relations firm is run by a very special entrepreneur, Bernadette Morris, who has held the reigns for more than 20 years. It is a very successful business, and it is also very unique in that it thoroughly incorporates spirituality into the workplace.

As Bernadette was showing me around her office, the first room we came across, right off the main entrance, was a spiritual/devotional room. When I asked about this room, Bernadette said she thought it was so important to have a quiet room for her staff to pray or meditate. I asked her staff about the room, and they said that even if they did not use the room often, it meant a lot just knowing it was there.

On the web, Sonshine Communications is described as “A Christian-based, minority-owned and operated, private corporation providing an array of value-added services in the realm of public relations, marketing, advertising and graphic design.” Additionally, when referring to its code of ethics it says, “The firm upholds a professional code of ethics in all of its creative endeavors and operates under principles of Godly living and Christian character.”

Obviously, spirituality plays a major role in this firm. It is present in every element of the business, and there is no question in my mind that much of its success can be attributed to this commitment to spirituality.

In 2003, a study published in USA Today showed that six out of 10 workers would like to see more spirituality in their workplaces. This is especially true today with Generation Y (born after 1980). This age group takes a much more holistic approach to their work life, and spirituality or religion is an integral element.

A number of empirical studies have shown that embracing spirituality will improve the bottom line of a business. A study by a University of Chicago professor found firms that make a commitment to ethics are more successful than companies that do not. A study in Business Week showed firms in Australia that adopted spirituality in their workplaces had greater productivity and less turnover. A study from MIT reported that employees want to practice their spirituality in the workplace without offending their co-workers.

Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of Timberland Shoes, uses his prayer book and his religious beliefs when formulating company policy, and often consults with his rabbi. The American Stock Exchange has a Torah study group, and Boeing offers Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayer groups to their employees.

Like Sonshine, Apple’s offices in California have a meditation room where employees are given a half hour of company time to meditate or pray. They know that doing so will improve the productivity of their staff.

I believe one of the main reasons that spirituality is now playing a bigger role in business is the presence of more women in the workplace. Women typically focus much more on spiritual values then men do. Additionally, the aging of our workforce also contributes to this trend. Baby Boomers are no longer satisfied by materialism and are looking for a deeper meaning in both their work and personal lives.

Now go out and consider how adding a spiritual dimension to your business might fit with your views and those of your staff. I promise your staff will appreciate the effort.

You can do this!

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