Volume 1: 2002 Abstract 1

Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management

Volume 1: 2002

Understanding spirituality in the workplace: A qualitative study

Patricia Purnell-Webb, Ian Glendon and Peter Creed

Griffith University


Although there has been much interest in recent years in developing spirituality in the workplace there is little rigorous research available to support its effectiveness, for example, in respect of work performance. Without this type of research, many CEOs and business leaders are sceptical that spirituality is anything more than a millennium fad. In order to begin developing robust models to demonstrate the relationship that spirituality has with such criterion measures as employee well-being and performance, it is first necessary to arrive at a common understanding of the construct of spirituality and how this construct applies in the workplace.

For this study, five focus groups were conducted, with an opportunity sample that provided a cross-section of employees, managers and professionals (n = 33). Two main questions were examined: “What does spirituality mean to me?” and “How do I demonstrate my spirituality in the workplace?” Data from these focus groups were analysed using a grounded theory approach and the computer programme NVivo. Results are reported in three major categories: (1) defining and operationalising spirituality; (2) understanding employee spiritual behaviour and needs in the workplace; and (3) identifying organisational blocks to spiritual development. A preliminary model of spirituality is proposed.