Posted by: healingtheworkplace | March 14, 2008

Healthy Workplaces Need Soul

What comes to your mind when you hear the words “organization and soul” spoken in the same breath? Why isn’t there more attention paid to the souls of the organizations that we spend so much time in? What is the connection between a healthy workplace and its soul? These are important questions but not ones that you’ll find discussed in most organizations.

I believe that part of the reason that people don’t usually talk about healthy workplaces and organizational soul in the same breath is because an organization’s soul is intangible and invisible. It’s not measurable!

There are many other reasons of course.

Talking about “soul” makes some people uncomfortable…unless of course you are in a place of worship or an organization that has a mission that is related to religion or faith.

Have you every worked in an organization that has “soul”? Can an organization have soul? What is soul in this context? A growing number of books are being written about this subject but few connect the health of a workplace with the need to recognize and nurture its soul.

In my humble opinion organizations without souls are unhealthy! I believe that workers in these organizations feel disconnected and suffer more stress and mental illness than in organizations that are soulful.

Soul might be intangible and invisible, BUT it is noticeable when it is absent!

Dr. John Izzo sees corporate soul awakening “when individuals are truly alive in the workplace, pouring their creativity, energy and passion into their work”.

What do organizations do to make this possible? Core values are the foundation of an organization’s soul. The vision shows the way and the values explain how to get there. Organizational cultures are created when values are known, shared and lived.

According to Alan Briskin, the author of The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace,  “Soulfulness requires both inner work–finding meaning and purpose–and outer work–seeking avenues for expression.”

Can the workplace be a place of spiritual growth? Should we expect our jobs to provide us with a sense of meaning, connection, satisfaction and purpose? Perhaps the workplace with all its challenges is a place where we can grow spiritually.

I’d like to think so but there’s another way of looking at this.

In “Fire Your Boss” Stephen M. Pollan argues that there is a danger in seeking meaning and satisfaction at work. “For most of American history people didn’t look to derive emotional satisfaction from their jobs…emotional and spiritual satisfaction came from family, home, church, community and hobbies.”

The danger in seeking this satisfaction from work is that we are now spending most of our time looking in the wrong place and as a result we are tired, dissatisfied, and have become disconnected from our families and community.   As much as I hate to admit it Pollan has a point.

Seems like there are many more questions than answers. What do you think?



  1. If we are seeking money to feed the baby, we don’t have luxury to seek for souls in our jobs. If our basic financial needs are satisfied, the need to satisfy our spiritual needs will surface. That’s the right moment to start looking for jobs that feeds our souls. My 2 cents.

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