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Research: Businesses need systematic method for workplace spirituality to fully reap positive benefits

July 11, 2014

In a recently published study, two Loyola University New Orleans researchers are touting the advantages of workplace spirituality. Frankie J. Weinberg, Ph.D., Loyola assistant professor of management, and William B. Locander, Ph.D., dean of the College of Business at Loyola co-authored “Advancing Workplace Spiritual Development: A Dyadic Mentoring Approach,” published in The Leadership Quarterly in April.

Weinberg and Locander point out that business owners and managers are in need of a method through which to deploy spirituality to the individual level and sustain high levels of spirituality over time. These methods are already present in some ways at Loyola. For instance, Loyola provides employees the opportunity to engage in deeply meaningful work within a context of engaging with a community of scholars and students. In fact, mentors are provided to all new faculty members for academic support, which Weinberg and Locander argue could benefit by following the spiritual mentoring model developed in the paper. This can greatly uphold employees’ own inner life needs.

The study points to one important method in particular for supporting spirituality in the workplace: spiritual mentoring. “Spiritual development is deeply personal, and in order to be extraordinarily effective in sustaining the development of individual spirituality in the workplace, one-on-one mentorship may be the best avenue,” Weinberg said.

In the paper, Weinberg and Locander draw on previous research and propose that spiritual mentoring should be organized into three categories—inner life, meaningful work, and context/connectedness—and present a process through which leaders may provide these supportive behaviors.

The paper points to a number of goals that spiritual mentoring is likely to be associated with. These include not only individual goals such as personal fulfillment, job satisfaction, pro-social behaviors, creativity and problem-solving capabilities, but also more macro-level goals such as achieving higher levels of commitment from one's personnel, greater profits, increased shareholder value, higher net earnings and a greater return on investment.

“Ultimately, it is hoped that this research will inspire organizations to begin to institutionalize and benefit from employee spirituality through mentoring practices in the workplace. This topic is of importance not only to businesses, but to anyone interested in following St. Ignatius Loyola’s vision of practicing exercises in spiritual development that balance one’s personal inner developmental needs with the demands of one’s outer life,” Weinberg said.

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