Our organizations are being challenged by an increasingly uncertain environment. Besides tools, work models and investments, it’s necessary to recognize a business’ main strength.
We often hear phrases such as “this group has a great spirit” or “I could sense the house’s spirit the minute I walked in”, yet may ignore them in the rush of our daily routines. However, these observations bring about a request that I’m hearing more frequently during meetings with executives and collaborators.
Let’s be honest: spirituality isn’t an aspect we usually associate with the world of business. The competition behind being the best, fastest and most efficient seems to be a natural barrier for everything that’s unmeasurable. The well-being of our company’s people remains disconnected from that of our income statement.
The last few years have taught us the importance of the skills—inaccurately defined as “soft skills”—when it comes to managing people’s work. I’m referring to emotions, happiness or the purpose behind “meaning.” However, and despite all we’ve been through since the pandemic, these “soft” skills still seem to be considered more important than “hard” skills.
Talking about spirituality sounds “abstract”, to say the least, and even more disconnected from the life of organizations, to put it lightly. However, surprisingly, our organizations demand its members to give their best (individuals) for the common good (business) while respecting others. This policy is the essence of spirituality: individually doing good for everyone’s best interest, while channeling our effort towards a common, better place.
Tangible spirituality: examples
Throughout the world, we can observe experiences that prove the importance of spirituality for a company’s wellbeing, and ultimately that of its teams. In some cases, this can be observed in physical spaces, coexistence, and ways of leadership. The common ground: these organizations were able to make room for this aspect in their culture, where each person’s purpose and spirituality could thrive daily.
Enrique Shaw, Argentine businessman of the ‘50s and ‘60s, serves as an example of the proximity between spirituality and successful sales. His management of family business Cristalerías Rigolleau based itself on common sense and respect for others. His actions as CEO revolved around his employee’s personal growth in order to make his business sustainable.
Shaw’s story anticipated what we now call “psychological security.” Through his behavior, the father of nine created a space of interaction for the 3,000 people he employed in order to strengthen group effort. He did this by prioritizing his demand for excellence from a respectful and transparent position. Shaw and his team created a culture that cared about their employees as people: the demands for his company were just as important as his genuine interest in their personal wellbeing. This is how spirituality motivates us to go to work each morning.
For anyone who believes that this goal exceeds the demands of the virtual era we’re experiencing in this century, I recommend the tool “Poverty Stoplight.”
Developed by Fundación Paraguaya, the tool is based on five dimensions that allow businesses to get a further idea of their collaborators’ reality outside the workspace. Taking into account Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the Poverty Stoplight is made up of five dimensions. The first dimension focuses on the “material” aspect: type of housing, living conditions, housing size, etc. The fifth dimension is “interiority” or “spirituality”: the level of support experienced at home, where needs and insufficiencies usually appear, such as physical or psychological domestic violence, autism or illnesses. Understanding these conditions and consensually working together through respect creates the foundation for a very different bond than the one generated from a paycheck at the end of each month.
Tools such as the “stoplight” and others help create a net of trust between a business and its collaborators. In other words, it makes “humanizing” businesses possible, enabling people to bring their spirit to work with them and offer the best versions of themselves to their job. This is the effect of feeling respected and cared for by their employer, regardless of the demands and skills required by the business.
By Claudio Ardissone, Managing Director at Olivia in Paraguay