Religious work environment – benefit or challenge? A qualitative study on motivation at work in a religiously affiliated hospital

Ann-Kathrin Seemann


Workplace spirituality and faith are important and emerging trends in business that should direct managers’ attention for various reasons. Therefore, this qualitative study asks whether a religious work environment provides a beneficial or challenging factor for an organization. It examines the particular work environment of a faith-based hospital and its effects on employees’ motivation and work ethics. The study adopts a qualitative approach, using semi-structured interviews. The interviews were conducted with human resources (HR) staff and nurses of an Adventist Hospital in the USA. The interviewees were purposefully selected to learn about their individual perspectives. The findings indicate that religiously affiliated organizations attract a special type of employee with a certain work ethic. The respectful, friendly and helpful treatment of colleagues amongst each other is one of the biggest differences when compared to non-faith-based organizations. Additionally people are more altruistic, humble and dedicated. In addition, the community outreach and the chance to support patients, both medical and spiritual, gives the work a special meaning. However, the study also indicates some challenges due to the religious affiliation, especially in the case of tough business decisions. Thus understanding the special features of a religiously affiliated organization and its effects on employees might help secular organizations to provide a spiritual working environment for their employees to take advantage of the beneficial effects without having to deal with the identified weaknesses.

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Journal of Hospital Administration

ISSN 1927-6990(Print)   ISSN 1927-7008(Online)

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