A strong sense of spirituality has been shown to provide many positive outcomes. People who are very spiritual may have a more positive outlook on life, less anxiety and depression, and may experience less stress in trying situations. An abundance of existing research explores how spirituality can benefit intimate relationships, physical health, and quality of life, but few studies have examined what role spirituality plays in career satisfaction. Specifically, what is the relationship between spirituality, job satisfaction, and workplace stress? To answer this question, Steve M. Jex of Bowling Green State University’s Psychology Department led a study that explored how spirituality moderated negative workplace conditions.
For the study, Jex surveyed 854 adult participants and asked them to describe their levels of mental health, physical health, and workplace stress. The participants also were asked about their level of job satisfaction and if they had any intention to quit their jobs in the upcoming year. Finally, Jex measured levels of verbal and physical aggress and spirituality, as reported by the participants. He found that the most spiritual participants had the highest levels of mental and physical health. Additionally, those same participants reported being more satisfied with their jobs than those who were less spiritual. Although the spiritual individuals reported less workplace stress, they did react more negatively to aggression, be it physical or verbal. “Thus, spirituality may be beneficial when the work environment matches a spiritual person’s belief systems and expectations, but detrimental when these expectations are not met (e.g., high levels of aggression),” Jex said.
One way to interpret these findings is to suggest that when workplace atmospheres are in line with a spiritual person’s moral belief system, the person may experience less stress. But when transgressions occur that contrast the person’s spiritual and moral beliefs, he or she may react more negatively than less spiritual people. This study had limitations, including a single item measure for each category and low physical aggression thresholds. Future work should expand assessment items and broaden the categories to gain a more comprehensive analysis. Until then, the findings of this study demonstrate that spirituality can result in less stress at work, depending on the work environment.
Jex, Steve M., Michael T. Sliter, and Justin M. Sprung. Spirituality as a moderator of the relationship between workplace aggression and employee outcomes. Personality and Individual Differences 53.7 (2012): 930+. Health Reference Center Academic. Web. 28 Sep. 2012.
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