Dr. Tony Zeiss
Executive Director of t-Factor
Attempting to identify all the benefits of a faith-friendly workplace culture is like trying to identify the benefits of life. A very large portion of the benefits are intrinsic and residual. These personal benefits are not easily identified. Yet organizational stakeholders have a fiduciary and ethical responsibility to understand the return on their investment by transforming to a faith-friendly culture. Fortunately, some good research in the past decade has provided some useful data on this topic.
The term faith-friendly reflects a work environment that allows employees to express their faith and serve others at the workplace. They outwardly assist fellow employees, customers, and the communities in which they reside. By its nature, a faith-friendly workplace involves a servant-leadership attitude in its employees.
Before we examine the research on this question, let’s review a brief case study on what happened to Coca-Cola Consolidated after they began changing their workplace culture twenty years ago.
Chairman and CEO Frank Harrison established a faith-friendly and purpose-driven workplace culture because he believed it was the right thing to do. He wanted Coca-Cola Consolidated to be faith-friendly providing the opportunity for all employees to express their faith at work. Consolidated embraced a new purpose statement: To Honor God In All We Do, To Serve Others, To Pursue Excellence, To Grow Profitably.
This purpose has served their teammates, customers, communities, stakeholders, and the organization extremely well. Under this workplace culture, their teammates are energized by their work, they support each other, and they feel connected to the organization’s purpose. Coca-Cola Consolidated has used this purpose as its foundation and guiding principle during a series of recent acquisitions that started in 2014 and resulted in the Company becoming the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the country. During this time, it grew from 6,500 teammates to over 16,000 today.
Measuring an organization’s growth in profits, employees, and territory is relatively easy. And we don’t have to look very hard to find other impressive examples of organizational success by companies that have adopted faith-friendly cultures. Consider Service Master, Chick-fil-A, Hobby Lobby, Tyson Foods, and many others.
In 2013, Chad Brooks, a writer for Business News Daily, reviewed several sources of research on the topic of faith-friendly workplaces including a Sirota Survey by Patrick Hyland that measured 11,800 employee responses. His key findings included:
- Employees feel safer, have better working relationships with colleagues, and are more likely to be engaged in their work.
- The goal is to “create an environment where employees feel they can bring their full selves to work and have a professional life that is aligned with their deepest inner convictions.”
- Employees feel like they are treated more fairly, and their work is both personally and professionally meaningful.
Does God Make People Work Harder? Chad Brooks https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5494-workplace-spirituality-benefits.html
In 2016, Ann-Kathrin Seeman produced a researched paper titled “Religious Workplace Environment-Benefits or Challenge.” It was a qualitative study which focused on the responses of nurses and human resources staff on motivation at work in a religiously affiliated hospital in Germany. Some of her key findings revealed that:
- A faith-based environment is associated with a good-natured understanding and forgiving work environment.
- This environment attracts people who are self-motivated and driven by the desire to help and support other members of the community.
- Respectful, friendly and helpful treatment of colleagues among each other is one of the biggest differences when compared to non-faith-based organizations.
- Benefits for a religious work environment include an increase in employee performance, honesty and trust within the organization, and high expectations.
- Challenges of a religious work environment may include a lack of accountability and managers who are too compassionate.
Religious Work Environment-Benefit or Challenge? Ann-Kathrin Seeman
https.//www.researchgate.net/publication/306246854 religious work environment-benefit or challenge A qualitative study on motivation at work in a religiously affiliated hospital
HR Magazine published an article titled Religion at Work on April 11, 2018. The article featured Robert J. Grossman’s review of the Society of Human Resource Managers’ 2008 Religion and Corporate Culture workplace survey report and his report on the Coca-Cola Consolidated faith-friendly model. The Key findings included:
- 83% of Americans are affiliated with a religious group.
- (Faith-friendly cultures) increase employee loyalty.
- Religious diversity encourages a welcoming, inclusive environment and strengthens communication.
- Religion remains integral to life in the United States and religious practices are increasingly diverse.
Religion at Work Robert J. Grossman https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/pages/relidion-at-work.aspx
Let’s look at some research statistics we present at our t-factor workshops designed to help CEOs and senior leaders transform their workplaces into faith-friendly cultures.
96% of national survey respondents thought some form of their organization’s culture should be improved and 51% of respondents thought their organization’s culture needed a complete overhaul.
-Booz Allen Hamilton Annual Culture Survey, 2011
Factors most positively affected by faith-friendly cultures include:
- Employee morale increased by 62%.
- Employee Retention increased by 38%.
- Employee Loyalty increased by 37%.
- The organization’s reputation increased by 34%.
-SHRM Survey, 2008
We may never be able to assess and report all the intrinsic and residual benefits of faith-friendly workplace cultures, but we can clearly assess the happiness of our teammates and recognize that happy workers are more productive and are more likely to stay with the organization. Hopefully this brief review of the benefits of faith-friendly workplaces demonstrates a very good return on the investment for stakeholders, employees, and customers of an organization.