Surveying Workplace Spirituality

While it’s not unusual for employees to grouse about life on the job – dreading Monday mornings does occasionally occur — “workplace spirituality” isn’t an oxymoron. Far from it.

Spirituality is not a warm and fuzzy theoretical construct. It is direly practical since it deals with the ultimate ends of life, about living a life that really matters. Spirituality is about making the world a better place to live, about reducing suffering in the world by living a life that is rooted in the common good. Spirituality infuses one’s life with sacred meaning, purpose, and significance. And workplace spirituality is about approaching work as an offering to the Divine, about discovering the sacred dimension of human existence, a dimension that is getting increasingly lost in this Darwinian world. It is about reclaiming our spiritual heritage and being mindful of the fact that ‘we are not human beings on a spiritual journey; we are spiritual beings on a human journey.’ It is not about making a living but living a significantly meaningful life that is good for oneself, good for others, and good for the society.

The latest Major Reference Work (MRW) from Dr. Satinder Dhiman, Business School Associate Dean, MBA Chair and Director and Professor of Management, attests to the topic’s depth and complexity. Dr. Dhiman serves as editor-in-chief of The Palgrave Handbook of Workplace Spirituality and Fulfillment (1st ed., 2018), a new volume that, in its nearly 1,200 pages, draws together some 75 scholars on six continents. Assembled with co-editors Gary Roberts, Robertson School of Government at Regent University in Virginia, and Joanna Crossman, University of South Australia, Dr. Dhiman’s seminal work stands as perhaps the most comprehensive survey of workplace spirituality to date.

The backstory for the book began some two decades ago, in a body of management literature Dr. Dhiman first tapped for the MBA program in 1995 at Woodbury University. As it happens, in 1999, he served as dissertation advisor for current Business School Dean Dr. Joan Marques, who attended his pioneering Spirituality in the Workplace course at the time. Today, in addition to his duties on the faculty, Dr. Dhiman is the Founder-Director of Forever Fulfilled, a Los Angeles-based Wellbeing Consultancy that focuses on workplace wellness, sustainability, and self-leadership.

The Palgrave Handbook of Workplace Spirituality and Fulfillment relies on a structured but open-ended schema designed to capture major research and best practices on the subject. “We’ve sought to be both comprehensive and concise,” Dr. Dhiman said. “Our handbook traces the genesis and growth of this burgeoning field and suggests trends and future directions in workplace spirituality. To do so, we’ve tapped various theistic and non-theistic traditions around the world, examining varying dimensions and models of workplace spirituality, including the best of emerging new age spiritualities.

“Thanks to the work of both our team and our contributors, we’ve been able to weave together various strands of management theory, spirituality, religion, and positive psychology in a systematic manner,” he said. “It’s our hope that the book will come to be regarded as a definitive resource guide in scholarship addressing so many areas that touch organizations in fundamental ways — spiritual, social, and emotional intelligence; mindfulness, meaning and purpose and fulfillment at work; various forms of positive leadership such as servant, values-based, authentic, spiritual leadership; servant-followership and corporate citizenship behavior; workplace spirituality and organizational performance.”

Dr. Dhiman facilitates courses pertaining to ethical leadership, sustainability, organizational behavior & strategy, and spirituality in the workplace in the MBA program. Author, translator, co-author, and co-editor of over 25 books, including Holistic Leadership (Palgrave 2017), Gandhi and Leadership (Palgrave 2015), and Seven Habits of Highly Fulfilled People (Personhood 2012). He is the Editor-in-Chief of two Major Reference Works, including, Springer Handbook of Engaged Sustainability (2018). His two recent books that focus directly on the theme of workplace spirituality include, Bhagavad Gītā and Leadership: A Catalyst for Organizational Transformation (Palgrave 2018) and Managing By the Bhagavad Gītā: Timeless Lessons for Today’s Managers (Edited, with A. D. Amar; Springer 2018). His forthcoming books related to this theme include: The Palgrave Handbook of Workplace Wellbeing ( 2019/2020) and The Routledge Companion to Mindfulness at Work (2019).

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