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When Jobs Pay the Bills But Starve the Soul
June 1999 By Joyce Lain Kennedy
“Efforts by employers to make It easier to juggle work and home lives can go a long way toward recruiting and keeping quality employees.” Michael Losey, Society for Human Resource Management
I’ve been feeling trapped for the last six years working in a job that pays a decent wage, but it’s an endless series of repetitive parts without a meaningful whole. What advice would you give someone like me? — K.R.
A. Consider spirituality in the workplace, an alternative work schedule or shift your work focus.
Today’s business climate is an auspicious window in which you may be able to break lockstep concepts and try new ideas if your work is shriveling your inner self. Undoubtedly, your productivity is suffering if you feel each day starves your soul a little more than the day before. The potential for improved productivity is a powerful management motivator.
As Michael Losey, president of the Society for Human Resource Management says, in today’s tight-labor market, “recruitment” and “retention” words. “Efforts by employers make it easier to juggle work and home lives can go a long way toward recruiting quality employees.”
Loosely translated what Losey reports is a less rigid perspective by employers of 9-to-5-ers: employers are giving a bit on such benefits as alternative work schedules (which allow you to do more of your own thing), a family-friendly environment and casual business dress.
They know that in the high-tech market, for instance, many young people can call their own shots. Because of the need to recruit and retain, a number of employers are bending old rules to make their organizations an attractive work environment.
But can you talk to God or your higher being on the job? Can you take the time- to think spiritual thoughts?
Liberalized workplace trends may indeed include a new openness to religious and emotional thinking, according to recent reports and books. Signs of times include comments from Martin Rutte, a Santa Fe, N.M., business consultant, who says 10 years ago, people laughed when he talked about spirituality in the corporate world. No more. Quoted in the May 3 issue of U.S. News & World Report, says that within the last decade more than 300 book titles on workplace spirituality – from “Jesus CEO’ to “Invisible Leadership: Igniting the Soul at Work” – have turned up in bookstores.
Other indications: CEOs – such as Monsanto’s Robert Shapiro – are meditating at work and running meditation retreats. Companies are offering training programs aimed at spiritual dialogues to unlock creativity; as Boeing manager Craig Elkins says, “If your people aren’t allowed to bring their whole selves to work – body, mind and soul – then you’re not going to win.”
What should you do to explore spirituality for you on the job? Admittedly, the logistics of implementing spirituality policies are challenging and just one of a number of issues to resolve. Higher ups with offices have no problem, but what about employees in cubicles or on the factory or retail floors? Where can they meditate in a quiet zone?
Solutions to the nuts and bolts of being open about spirituality are likely to be as diverse as definitions of spirituality itself. Before approaching management, talk about the subject informally with coworkers and see where it leads.
If you decide that neither workplace spirituality nor an alternative work schedule will satisfy your longings, consider shifting your work focus. Talk to a career counselor about whether you’re badly suited to your type of work.
Valerie Young, who has walked in your shoes, publishes acompelling newsletter, “Changing Course.” Young urges you to devote at least five minutes daily to defining your ideal work life and making an action plan. Reflect on what you love doing during your commute. Stash money. Set a launch date.
You can order a sample of “Changing Course” for $4.95/by calling Young at (800) 267-6388 checking her Web sitewww.changingcourse.com
Young’s motto for “Changing Course”: “Live life on purpose. Work at what you love. Follow your own road.”
Write to Joyce Lain Kennedy: in care of the Sunday Republican, P.O. Box 2350, Springfield, MA 01102-2350.