Spirit in the Workplace

By Iris Sauber
Director of Opportunities at Sauber & Associates, LLC

While spirit in the workplace may sound very strange to many who have never heard those words linked together, they express an idea which is gaining a large following. Articles have appeared in Newsweek, Fast Company and the Harvard Business School Journal, to name a few. Companies such as Lucent Technologies, the Boeing Corporation and Southwest Airlines have begun to ponder such intangibles in an effort to attract and maintain a motivated, performance-boosting workforce. They recognize that as people strive to understand and search for their purpose, listen to their inner wisdom, and seek more satisfaction and a deeper connection, they truly want to find this deeper meaning and sense of purpose in their daily work.

In a country which has long espoused separation of church and state, it seems almost paradoxical that one would discuss spirit in the workplace. However, spirit in the workplace is not about religion. It is understanding and embracing the idea that we humans are much more than what we do to earn a paycheck. We are spiritual beings, having a human experience. Spirit in the workplace seems to emit images of releasing the full expression of human potential-allowing people to be all they are capable of being. When 'spirit' is left outside of the workplace, it seems reasonable to think that the very essence of who we are is not present at work.

Many studies, as well as news headlines, indicate workplaces riddled with corruption, apathy, disenchantment, decline in services rendered and a lack of stability. When people do not feel fully awakened and connected to a deeper purpose something seems to be missing.

Corporate cultures that embrace spirit in the workplace are moving toward a new kind of culture. When cultures can be created which empower, appreciate and cultivate inclusiveness, open, honest communication and support true teamwork and cooperation, instead of competition, control and fear, what results is less turn over, less absenteeism, greater productivity, increased profits and happy workers. These workers then provide the best possible goods and services because they feel like contributing members, rather than just social security numbers showing up to do a job. We have been living with old models and ideas of fear and control to get workers to do their jobs, rather than inspiration, inclusiveness and purpose.

Spirit-oriented organizations have no problem listening to the voices of staff and employees because they recognize them as full human beings with talents and gifts to contribute. It makes sense to 'include' these voices in the planning, growth and missions of the organization. Spirit in the workplace is leaders learning to lead instead of manage. It is an understanding that organizations are in service, not just providing a service. It is searching one's self for his/her purpose in life and tapping into that passion. It is embracing and appreciating the gifts and talents each and every employee brings to their job each and every day - day in and day out.

As we begin to observe the breakdown of old models and ideas of fear and control to get workers to do their jobs, the time is right to embrace inspiration, inclusiveness and purpose as motivators.

The most powerful emotion in the world is love. LOVE is the only power capable of transcending all differences, diversities, obstacles, challenges and fears. With love at the core of ANY relationship, everything is possible. Imagine looking at your co-workers with eyes of love/spirit, understanding that on the inside, we are exactly the same as one another. As human beings, on this planet, in this lifetime, we are each searching for the same things. Spirit in the workplace is knowing that each one of us perceives life through our own eyes. Imagine looking at your colleagues and peers and being open to the idea that your way of seeing and doing things is not the only way and that perhaps another way is just as good, maybe better; imagine them doing the same!

As Jennifer Lawrence (Harvard, MBA'87), professor at Boston University, so aptly said, " spirituality is having a sense of inner calm and a willingness to reflect carefully on yourself and the world around you. Integrating spirituality in the workplace means creating a place where it's all right for people to bring their whole selves, with all their talents and complex emotions, where there's enough safety so that people can speak the truth openly at meetings, rather than secretly in the hallway afterward; where there's an elevated sense of integrity."

Books abound on our desire to find more meaning and purpose in our lives; books are appearing everywhere with ideas and steps to follow to assist workers and leaders in their desire to create cultures which allow for humanity's need for more purpose and spirit in the workplace. Just think of what could be created and accomplished if we put more spirit/love into our workplaces. Like spirit itself, the possibilities are limitless.

Iris Sauber is the Director of Opportunities at Sauber & Associates, LLC. They offer consulting and training in the areas of sales, customer service, team development and business growth as well as motivational keynote addresses. She is the Director of the Maryland Chapter of the Association for Spirit at Work and assists organizations seeking to implement more spiritual ideas in the workplace. She can be reached toll free at 877-617-1319 or iris@sauberaa.com or you can visit her website: www.sauberaa.com

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