How much individuals express their religious beliefs in the workplace depends on how much power they hold there, according to new research.
The study, which used survey data from a nationally representative sample of employed US adults, was published in a recent edition of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Expressions of religion that were measured included displaying faith with symbols, feeling comfortable talking about faith, and speaking up when observing unfair work practices that conflict with their beliefs.
According to Robert Thomson, the study’s lead author and a former postdoctoral fellow at Rice University, “expression at work is influenced by more than simply a person’s religious enthusiasm or identity.”
“Leaders who are free to express their faith would do well to recognize that subordinates may suppress their religious identity at work to avoid alienation, obtain promotion, or manage job insecurity,” says study coauthor Elaine Howard Ecklund, chair in social sciences at Rice University and director of the Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance.
Most prior research on religious expression in the workplace has focused primarily on the impact of such expression on managing stress, increasing job satisfaction and improving performance. The researchers say the new study can help leaders, managers, and human resource officers evaluate how their workplace culture and policies facilitate or constrain religious expression for those at different levels of the organization.
“We found that those at the bottom of their organizations may have more limited ability to draw on the resources of religion to cope with the stresses of work,” says study coauthor Denise Daniels, professor of entrepreneurship at Wheaton College.
“It would be helpful for organizational leaders to recognize how this can impact worker health, well-being, and productivity,” says Daniel Bolger, a former graduate student at Rice.
Additional coauthors of the new paper are from Princeton University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The Lilly Endowment Inc. funded the work.
Source: Rice University