Spirituality and ethical behaviour in the workplace: wishful thinking or authentic reality
McGhee, P; Grant, P
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The link between religion and work is not new. For centuries, people have strived to interpret their work through religious lenses. Recently, however, a significant paradigm shift has occurred. The current view is that spirituality, as opposed to religion, is a better construct for understanding the relationship between the individual and modern pluralistic workplaces. This current perspective, sourced in various socio-cultural factors, views spirituality as positively influencing numerous organisational outcomes. Also implicit within this discourse is the notion that allowing and encouraging spirituality in the workplace leads to improved ethical behaviour at a personal level and an enhanced ethical climate/culture at an organisational level. What is unclear, however, is how an individual’s spirituality translates into ethical behaviour within an organisational context and the impact of this conversion. This paper develops a model explaining this process. A review of the relevant literature recognised several characteristics that permeate discussions on spirituality. This paper’s premise is that these characteristics inform an individual’s choice of values – they form a type of regulative ideal. The model developed explains the link between these values and virtue and therefore ethical behaviour in the workplace. The values frameworks developed recently in the spirituality literature specify those things a spiritual person perceives as worth having, getting or doing. This paper contends that these values, particular to spiritual persons, contribute to the flourishing of individuals and therefore lead to the acquisition of virtue. Spiritual persons are likely to be ethical persons. Such individuals are likely to be of significant benefit to their organisations.