Spirituality and Employee Engagement: It’s not about religion

I don’t think work-life balance is the most-important factor for people feeling engaged on the job. Yes employees appreciate leaders who care about their lives beyond work. But work-life balance doesn’t ensure people are happy at work. The work itself must be fulfilling.

In some parts of the world, fulfilling work is defined as having a spiritually enlightening experience. I heard Shriram Darbha, Head of HR for BSE Limited (Bombay Stock Exchange), speak at this year’s World HR Congress in Mumbai, India on spirituality in the workplace. He equated employee engagement with spirituality and said it is too bad the west feels there is no connection with spirituality and work. He said a spiritual workforce is the most engaged and productive of all.

Spirituality, as Shriram explained it, are moments when people feel in relationship with the deepest meanings or powers governing life. They may feel this deep sense of love and gratitude when the work they do is personally satisfying and meaningful for others. The feeling is spiritual whether they call it that or not. In these moments, they feel connected to others, to the planet, to beauty, and with whatever forces are beyond what can be seen.

Recall the times when you felt that life was special and you were lucky to be alive to experience the moment. Knowing something awesome is occurring is a spiritual experience.

Your spirit yearns for these moments, to feels alive and full while working. If these moments happen frequently, you will consistently give your best effort. A full spirit keeps the mind engaged.

Even if you don’t feel this all the time, an occasional full-hearted moment at work will lift your spirits. When something happens at work as a result of your personal effort or your team’s accomplishment, or someone does something special for you, the moment may take your breath away. Your heart opens. You may find it hard to find the words.You are fully present in the moment and in your body.

The more of these moments you experience, the more you will engage and commit to your work.

Conversely, when you do not like your work, feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled, your output suffers. No matter how committed you feel to your responsibilities and team, boredom, disappointment and resentment kill motivation. Engagement erodes. The attitude of “it’s just a job” sets in.

If you are a leader, you want these moments to happen for your team as often as possible. You might not openly call the environment a spiritual workplace, but you can call yourself a transformational leader if you coach your people to find meaning in their work and fulfillment in their relationships.

Transformational leaders focus on people’s spiritual growth and development, the expansion of their wisdom, and a sense of delight with work and relationships. Transactional leaders focus on achieving job goals, leaving the person out of the loop. Which type of leadership feels more fulfilling for you?

There is a difference in having enough to live by but not enough to live for. Do the people who work for you have the means, not the meaning? As a transformational leader, you help people discover the meaning and purpose of their work so they come to love it. Then, when their love of their work supports organizational objectives, the overlap yields extraordinary results. Organizational measures of engagement need to include words such as love, pride, satisfaction, and hope.

But first, you should start with your own sense of connection at work. Darbha said, “Your greatest tools will be to detach from judgment of self and others and to increase your sense of humor.” Do your best and learn from your mistakes. Don’t complain about what is out of your control.

Darbha also said to work for the good of all not just yourself. Always follow the principles of right action. Character is who we are in the dark, what we think and do when no one is watching.

Can work be a spiritual experience? Transform yourself first and coach people to discover the meaning and sense of purpose in their work. But remember, don’t expect behavior from others. Detach from expectations. Love them instead. Your energy will be as profound as your actions.

Does this post inspire you or make you shudder? As a transformational coach, I would love to hear your point of view. Please comment here.

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