Time it was a description of the mystifyingly fuzzy concept of “corporate culture” was limited to discussions about the schedule for filling the coffee pot and the politics of displaying personal photos at your desk. The world’s changed a whole heap since then, and an emerging recognition of the significance of corporate culture has mercifully been part of the shift. Today, we understand that saying your company’s most valuable assets are the human ones isn’t the malarkey it might sound, but the most brutal of truths.
Treat your employees well, and they’ll treat your customers well. Not astrophysics, that show them respect, facilitate their interests and needs, and demonstrate your commitment to a philosophy that recognizes that a company’s success is nothing less than a team pursuit, and you’re starting to get it.
And a sense of spirituality should very much be a part of an organization’s corporate culture, whether it’s been deliberate about it or not. Given that the people who labour for a business are not automatons, it behooves those individuals overseeing their productivity to acknowledge their humanity meaningfully. How ridiculous to pretend that the guy in cubicle three doesn’t have two kids and an ailing father, or that the woman who looks after customer service isn’t an avid skier who’s working on her pilot’s license. How insane that employees feel the sting of self-consciousness about those personal demands that tug at their lives, dragging focus from more corporate-minded preoccupations. How pathetic to exist in an environment in which work and personal lives have to be so dreadfully compartmentalized.
Signature Healthcare, a healthcare provider based in Massachussetts, actually has a department of spirituality as part of its corporate makeup. Here, a “compassion fund” bankrolls unexpected catastrophes that visit employees’ lives, robbing them of their ability to cover everyday expenses. How lovely.
The bottom line is this: Corporations that choose to ignore the myriad other challenges competing for the time and attention of the members of their ranks do so at their considerable peril. If the semantics of the subject make you itchy and the word “spirituality” sends you into conniptions, call it “integrity” or “corporate governance.” Just call it.
And if you’re so old-school that you still can’t yank your eyes off the bottom line, consider that the payoff of such efforts for the company at their helm is considerable. At Signature, the incidence of job turnover has been significantly reduced thanks to this kind of mindfulness, a development that translates easily into financial gains. But the biggest payoff of a manager’s attention to spirituality is that the souls in his oversight feel respected, useful, heard.
Material values and spiritual values are not mutually exclusive. The material world is there to enhance the spiritual, after all — not the other way around. Indeed, it’s thanks to the spiritual that our lives enjoy meaning. And while spirituality is undeniably a personal concept, a corporation that embraces the value its employees’ place on the stuff is establishing a corporate culture — unwittingly or no.