There is a burgeoning body of research on the faith and work movement, including books for business people on faith and
by MARA GRBENICK
Twenty-something career-builders have taken flak for their rapid job changing and sense of entitlement to a good work-life balance. But surprisingly, it is that generation’s Baby Boomer parents who are part of a steadily growing workplace spirituality trend—a historic movement that has found new life in American business and in an outcropping of academic research centers around the country.
Americans have endured the worst recession since the Great Depression and despite a lingering fear of finding or losing a job, workers are prioritizing a balanced lifestyle. As more people seek workplaces that embrace diversity and the whole person, they have rightly also asked: Why should I park my soul at the door?
Nasrudhin Hassani, 55, owns Victory Technology, a network equipment company based in Elmhurst, Ill. Hassani, who was raised in the Muslim faith but is not practicing, said that spirituality has played a big roll in his business and in being ethical in his dealings.
“Having faith has helped me to accept hardship as a test…and to stay positive in hard times has helped me in being able to accept unforeseen situations,” Hassani said. Times such as when business is slower than usual and the company faces financial constraints.
To be sure, the faith and work movement, which had a modern resurgence beginning in the 1980s, is not just about bringing God into the workplace. “There is a misunderstanding of the movement,” said David Miller, director of Princeton University’s Faith & Work Initiative.
Miller said the impetus is to make workplaces “faith friendly and spiritually respectful” and likened it to similar efforts to be open to and inclusive of gays or minorities. Further, there is emerging research on organizations that are open to integrating faith and spiritual practices.
Principles of the Faith + Work Movement
Ethics—How do I work?
Be fair, honest and respectful in business.
Experience—What is my bigger cosmic or spiritual purpose?
Work is not just a job, but a calling to a higher purpose that has deep personal value and meaning.
Enrichment—How do I develop these qualities to benefit my work?
Nurture the soul through faith or spiritual practices to find inner quiet that is anchoring or healing, guiding.
Expression—How can I show my faith?
Open workplaces promote freedom of expression through words, attire or actions. Workers express religion or beliefs without scrutiny or fear of coworkers thinking they are trying to get others to “join their view”.
Source: David Miller, Ph.D.
Studies show a “positive correlation to traditional business measures,” Miller said. Other important benefits include increased morale, lower turnover rates, more creativity and increased engagement and loyalty. The success of such organizations is rooted in a culture of openness and an environment in which people feel they can be their whole self.
The movement seeks to spur organizations that value diversity to accept different faith backgrounds just as they have accepted varied representation of race, gender and sexual orientation in the workplace. Miller said it is crucial that employees feel secure in expressing their faith in external ways, such as when Muslim women wear headscarves.
The increased interest in faith and spirituality in the workplace reflects a convergence of social trends that merges the ideals of a younger generation, workers who fall into the Generation Y/Millennial demographic, with the considered reflections of an older one, the Baby Boomers.
According to a 2011 Gallup survey, 71 percent of Americans think that religion as a whole is losing its influence on American life. But when asked how important religion is in your own life, 55 percent responded “very important” and 26 percent of those surveyed responded “fairly important.” And perhaps most telling of all, more than 9 in 10 Americans said "yes" when asked "Do you believe in God?”
While religious influence overall may be on the decline, many people still care a good deal about religion on a personal level, and they care about being able to express that at work in a non-intrusive and normal way.
“Baby boomers are definitely driving this,” said Judi Neal, director of the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. The center is now one of twelve research centers dedicated to the topic.
“The younger generation is certainly helping to put a huge tailwind” behind the movement, Miller said. Young people, studies show, have expressed a desire for work environments where individuality is encouraged.
“Spirituality,” Miller added, “is a central part of who you are” and there should be a place for it in the office.
But Baby Boomers have uniquely presided over a period in modern history that primed them for their role in influencing workplace spirituality, said Neal, known among her peers for creating the International Spirit at Work Awards
First, there was the loss of the notion that workers have a job for life. Most Baby Boomers will not experience retirement in the way that their parents did—with comfortable pensions from an employer where they held a long career. Retirees today will depend more on their own savings than corporate pensions. Couple that fact with challenging economic times and there is an emerging group of middle-to-retirement-aged workers turning inward for a sense of security.
Change and reflection have also been factors in the velocity of the movement. Important time markers such as the turn of a decade or a crisis tend to cause people to contemplate the state of their lives. At such times, “people tend to reflect back and consider where we have come from as a human race and where we are going,” Neal said. The year 2000 marked an important transition and then 9/11 provided “a huge wakeup call,” Neal said. Workers in their forties and fifties started to think along the lines of their children’s generation in carefully considering and questioning the purpose of their work. According to Neal, the millennium created an opportunity for people all over the world to consider where the human race has come from, where it is headed in the future, and what role business plays in shaping a better world.
“People want to go beyond survival, and to find meaning in their work,” said Margaret Benefiel of Executive Soul, a coaching firm based in Massachusetts that works with executives and businesspeople to incorporate spirituality into their leadership strategies.
Traditionally, faith and spirituality have been closeted in the workplace. In the business world, individual spiritual beliefs are not often brought to the forefront. But many people depend on their faith practices to help them personally as they go about their job.
Benefiel said more people are seeking executive coaching to “try and bring their spiritual resources to bear” in making better business decisions and creating more harmonious work environments. She believes there is a justifiable business reason for the coaching.
“One-half of managerial decisions fail,” she said. Benefiel coaches leaders specifically to make better managerial decisions while staying true to their vision despite inner or outer forces that challenge that commitment. Business enterprise can be an “expression of your deepest values,” she said.
It is not just personal but organizational behavior that is a central focus of the movement. In organizations where the values of the movement are best executed, there is “an openness at the top” that can permeate the office ethos, Benefiel said.
Patricia Aburdene, a social trend forecaster and author, credited “spiritual” CEOs and senior executives at companies such as Hewlett-Packard (HP) for transforming their workplaces in her book, Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism.
American Express offers affinity groups for different faith groups. Ford Motor Company has an interfaith network. Experts on the movement agree that from brands like Tom’s of Maine to big organizations such as Southwest Airlines, Tyson Foods, The Body Shop and Medtronic, diversity is valued and therefore there is a place for faith in the workplace.
While productivity in the American economy has surged overall since the 1950s, Americans are working harder for less and incomes and wages have stagnated, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
BLS data also show that Americans aged 25 to 54 worked closed to 9 hours in the average workday in 2010. As employees spend more of their precious hours at work, they want and feel more entitled to express their whole selves, including their faith or spirituality, at work.
Plenty of Business Professionals Think This New Book Has More Than A Prayer for Success
Popular email prayer service for business professionals expands to book form and features insight from Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Ken Blanchard, Patrick Lencioni and others.
San Clemente, CA (Newsforce Daily) 10/31/2010 -- NFL Quarterback Jim Everett and Michael Joseph, Chairman of Dacor, the luxury kitchen appliance manufacturer, have something to say about In the Company of Prayer: Workday Reflections for Those Who Lead by Example as do Mike Paul, “the Reputation Doctor” and consultant to Dr. Laura; and David W. Miller, PhD., Director of Princeton University’s Faith & Work Initiative. All have contributed testimonials to the work of Leslie Bianco, the founder of In the Company of Prayer, a daily email service read by them, and thousands of other business people worldwide.
Bianco’s just-released book is a compilation of readers’ favorite reflections and includes those with insight from Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Patrick Lencioni, Christopher Lowney, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Larry C. Spears, Bob Greenleaf, Germaine Copeland, Meg Cadoux Hirschberg, Matthew Kelly, John Gardner, Marianne Williamson and others.
In the Company of Prayer: Workday Reflections for Those Who Lead by Example is available to preorder for early November delivery: http://www.companyofprayer.com/Book_Q1.html
About In the Company of Prayer
The four-year-old web-based company provides a brief, daily prayer and pertinent reflection specifically to businessmen and women through its “Morning Briefings” and services its worldwide audience via email subscription, RSS feed, twitter and from its blog. The emails provide instant access to the Morning Briefing blog for community participation, as well as to partner Sacred Space, the wildly successful site of the Irish Jesuits. Visit www.CompanyofPrayer.com
Ken Blanchard Endorses In the Company of Prayer
Popular email prayer service for business professionals expands to book form with the aid of "America's number one business author."
San Clemente, CA (Newsforce Daily) 7/20/2010 -- In the Foreword to the soon to be released book by Leslie Bianco, the Executive Editor of In the Company of Prayer, a subscription email prayer service for business professionals with a global reach and loyal following, Ken Blanchard said this:
Foreword for In the Company of Prayer
One of the real joys in my life was writing a book entitled The Power of Ethical Management with Norman Vincent Peale, the legendary author of The Power of Positive Thinking. My wife, Margie, and I were in our mid-forties at the time and far from turning our lives over to the Lord. Norman and his wife, Ruth Stafford Peale, who were in their eighties, were fabulous with Margie and me. They didn’t push us with our faith, but just loved on us. They would smile and say, “The Lord has always had you on His team; you just haven’t suited up yet.”
When I finally “suited up” in 1988, the year our book was published, I asked Norman if I should stop what I was doing with business leaders and go to divinity school and become a pastor. Norman was quick to answer. “Absolutely not! You have a huge congregation in the business world and we don’t have enough pastors there.”
This book is a compilation of morning briefings that Leslie’s subscribers considered among the best. If you’re like I am, and you find prayer to be an inspirational tool in the management of your professional life, you’ll love this little book. It involves thirteen weeks of five-day prayer messages on important subjects like integrity, leadership, core values, entrepreneurship, and much more. Read this little book every morning and start your day off right. It won’t take you very long to realize that God loves you and so does Leslie.
Thanks, Leslie, for making a difference in our lives.
Ken Blanchard is considered one of the best-selling business leadership authors of our time. Worldwide, his books have combined sales of more than eighteen million copies in twenty-five languages.
This Economy Changes Everything, Including the Way People Pray
Stresses brought on by today's economic crises have caused some faithful to change their prayer practices.
Orange County, CA (PRWEB) 2/18/2009 -- Some pray more. It is natural human instinct to reach out in prayer in times of distress. And the place that many are most distressed is in the workplace. Accordingly, In the Company of Prayer, an email subscription prayer service specifically for business executives has noticed a marked increase in subscribers in the last three months.
Some pray differently. With insecurity comes feelings of desperation, and that is reflected in prayer style, as well. Such prayers at the very least tend to include requests for action, such as, 'save me from financial ruin,' or 'help me meet my obligations.' At In the Company of Prayer, which began its service in 2006, they have found that in prior periods with greater financial excess, focus was on increased depth in devotion or carving out more time for oneness with the Almighty. While those themes remain important to subscribers, prayer addressing the various aspects of uncertainty have become priorities.
Through its 'Morning Briefing' service, In the Company of Prayer delivers concise devotionals into the inboxes of its subscribers each workday. The Morning Briefing daily prayer emails take seconds to read yet their impact lingers.
"Our subscribers have found in our service a place to grapple-in solitude or together as a community--with their own particular stresses," said Leslie Bianco, Executive Editor.
"I start the day in prayer, and end it there, too," said Berni Neal, a founder of the sports apparel and equipment company God Squad Athletics. "I appreciate opening my Morning Briefings right before lunch, when I start to get fatigued from working online all morning and want a prompt to refocus and reconnect," Neal said.
With Lent fast approaching, the practice of prayer is sure to increase. Many will find it to be a valuable tool in navigating these highly stressful times.
About In the Company of Prayer
Does Anyone Really Like Change?
Regardless of who becomes the next American President, change is a reality; CompanyofPrayer.com is a tool in managing for constant change.
Orange County, CA (PRWEB) 8/3/2008 -- An increase in taxes on corporations and a more highly taxed workforce are changes Obama says we can believe in, while McCain promises to upset the applecart with immigration reform and domestic drilling. All of which will affect those running businesses.
Since the 2006 election, when Americans are said to have voted for change by installing a Democrat-majority Congress, the result, some have argued, has been a spike in oil costs and a shift in morals issues legislation. Businesses suffer from increased fuel costs, and recently legislated gay marriage, for example, will have an affect on employee benefits, at the very least.
So how do successful business executives manage for constant change in their personal lives? Meditation, exercise, and prayer are all tools often cited as stress relievers. In the Company of Prayer, a subscription email prayer service devoted to the spiritual needs of business executives is one way for them to quickly get into prayer mode before the start of each workday. The Morning Briefing emails provide a quick, daily prayer specifically to businessmen and women who find prayer to be an inspirational tool in the management of their professional lives.
As members of this community, subscribers receive a prayer via email each workday that is short enough to be read off a PDA and is accompanied by a pertinent, two-sentence bit of inspiration, such as a quote from a peer, newspaper headline, or bit of scripture. Furthermore, subscribers join a community of like-thinkers who then pray for each other and who can comment via the blog.
According to Executive Editor Leslie Bianco, "As workdays grow longer, time for personal growth, including in the area of spirituality, necessarily overlaps with the business agenda. A daily prayer prompt appeals to these executives who also appreciate simply being reminded that they are in company with others who share their emphasis on faith."
Change is a way of life, and is an obvious element of the life of a business. Successful businesses are those that efficiently adapt to change. Successful business leaders are those who employ a multitude of skills and techniques in leading that change, which oftentimes include practices as simple as prayer.
About In the Company of Prayer
This Lent Season These Executives Have a Prayer in the Workplace
Professionals looking for prayer reflection each workday during Lent will find it from In the Company of Prayer.
Orange County, CA (PRWEB) 2/4/2008 -- In the Company of Prayer, an email subscription prayer service specifically for business executives is gearing up for a busy Lent season which begins Wednesday, February 6 for Christians worldwide--for everyone from the new to their faith to the pope. Through its 'Morning Briefing' service, In the Company of Prayer delivers concise devotionals into the inboxes of its subscribers each workday. The Morning Briefing daily prayer emails take seconds to read yet their impact lingers.
Tim LeVecke, CEO of LeVecke Corporation, a bottler and marketer of distilled spirits with facilities in California, Arizona and Hawaii is one such subscriber. "The Morning Briefing is the first email I open each day because it provides an opportunity for a moment of personal focus and reflection which carries me throughout the day," LeVecke said.
What is Lent?
About In the Company of Prayer
Copyright ©2006-2010 Company of Prayer, LLC