In the late 1990's researchers began studying spirituality as a workplace phenomenon. In the
year 2000 a distinction was made between individual spirituality and organisational spirituality.
This meant that spirituality could be studied on more than one level and that it was no longer
just a personal phenomenon, but rather that organisations (as non-human entities that are
made-up of clusters of humans) could in fact also be spiritual entities. In 2004, Kinjerski and
Skrypnek, identified a third dimension of spirituality distinct from individual spirituality and
organisational spirituality the experience of spirit at work.
The aim of this study was to gain insight into the functionality of spirituality by testing the
relationship between these three spirituality constructs individual spirituality, organisational
spirituality and the experience of spirit at work and the resultant impact of these constructs
on two positive work outcomes work engagement and affective organisational commitment.
A sequential mixed methods approach was utilised in this study and the research was
conducted in two phases. The first phase of the research was quantitative. During the
quantitative phase of the research an online survey was distributed to respondents across
South Africa. The second phase of the research was qualitative and consisted of follow-up
semi-structured personal interviews with selected respondents to the survey.
It was found that the three spirituality constructs individual spirituality, organisational
spirituality and the experience of spirit at work are independent constructs but that strong
positive correlations exist between individual spirituality and spirit at work, between individual
spirituality and organisational spirituality and between spirit at work and organisational
spirituality; with the strongest correlation between spirit at work and organisational spirituality.
From these correlations one can conclude that the experience of spirit at work has the
greatest impact on work engagement and organisational commitment; followed by the level of
organisational spirituality in the workplace. Therefore, organisations that are more spiritual
seem to have employees who are more engaged in their work and more committed to their
respective organisations. Spirit at work was found to be the strongest predictor of work engagement, meaning that
when there is an increase in experiences of spirituality in the workplace, work engagement
levels also increase. This means that the extent to which people feel engaged and immersed
in their work, is dependent on the extent to which they experience spirit in their work. This
finding highlights the critical importance of enabling employees to discover their strengths and
passions and matching them to work that they both enjoy and are good at, for enhanced work
engagement. Spirit at work was also found to be the strongest predictor of organisational
commitment. As the experiences of spirit at work increase, the levels of affective
organisational commitment in the organisation also increases. It could thus be argued that
when people experience spirit at work or in their work, they tend to be more committed to their
The current study has strengthened the business case for workplace spirituality. The findings
of this study indicate that the organisational environment is the greatest predictor of whether
employees will experience spirit at work or not and thus indirectly the greatest factor for
predicting work engagement and organisational commitment levels. These findings
substantiate the need for organisations to start playing a more active role in creating a work
environment that is conducive for employees to experience spirit at work. There are a number
of things that organisations can do to create more spiritual work environments and as a result
reap the benefits of greater work engagement and greater organisational commitment.