Religion and Employee Engagement

Engagement is about “Connections” or mutually beneficial bonds.  The more connections we have and the stronger the connections are the more engaged we will typically be.  So if we want to engage our employees we need to focus on two factors regarding connections.

Strength – We should increase the strength of the connections we have with our employees

Number – We should build new connections with our employees

The Trump Card

In cards it is the card with the highest value and beats any card in any suit or the deck itself.  Some connections work the same way.  Even with all of the connections we can make with our employees sometimes the foundation just won’t be there.  Why is that?  Well the foundation may not be there because of the “Trump” card.  One connection that is so strong, weak, or maybe even negative determines an employee’s choice.

The Disconnection or Negative Connection

Employees disconnect when they believe their values and beliefs have been short circuited or compromised.  Religion represents the beliefs and values of many employees.  Some employees cannot work on Saturdays and others on Sundays.  Many employees have activities related to their place of worship for which they feel strongly about and desire attending. Religion is a “Trump” card.

Some organizations have placed job roles and organizational values over the need to accommodate their employees.  Other organizations demonstrate a bias or value for one religion over another.  Of course these actions and efforts are handled subtly most of the time.  After all, if they were blatant an organization might risk being sued.  Nonetheless, these types of organizational cultures exist.

When organizations act in a manner that values one person’s belief or religion over another’s or does not allow a person to practice their faith the organization actually sends out other messages as well.  These messages include:

“You cannot be who you are here.”

“Fit in or we do not want you.”

“Why don’t you just believe what we believe?”

All this does is trigger the Trump Card.  Employees with different religious preferences start to take stock of their personal values.  They begin to ask their own questions:

“Am I valued?”                  No.

“Am I respected?”           No.

“Are my values being chipped away over time?”               Yes

“Am I losing my religion?”            Yes.

These employees, many of which are great employees, typically decide to leave.  How is that good for an organization and its health?

Remember the Platinum Rule

When you can…treat others the way they prefer to be treated.  We should ask ourselves:

  • How accepting is our corporate culture of different points of view?
  • To what extent do our benefits, policies and procedures support people from different backgrounds?
  • How do or don’t we we acknowledge others that are different?
  • How do we demonstrate respect for different religious perspectives?

What is your perspective?


One thought on “Religion and Employee Engagement

  1. Thought-provoking post on an often-overlooked topic.

    The best of the best in the world of engagement find a way to keep religious tensions out of the workplace while allowing faith to remain an important and respected part of their employees’ lives.

    That’s a tricky proposition and it’s almost always context-dependent.

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