Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Our family and home environment shapes us as persons. We respond to people and situations based on our upbringing. Attitudes in life get formed at an early age -if our spirituality has to come alive at work, we need to be deeply rooted in faith. The workplace environment – where we spend more than 50% of our conscious day, influences us as persons. While our family is mostly a given – the workplace is something we most often can choose – and the workplace environment is a confluence of the relationships and values we exhibit as persons. There are three main areas addressed below:
l    Unemployment & Job Satisfaction
l    Spirituality at the Workplace
l    Relationship with one’s co-workers
For each area of concern, we’ve explained the issue in some detail; reflected on desired outcomes; and finally listed a few possible ways forward. These reflections are not exhaustive but lend scope for creativity in implementation.
1)  Unemployment and Job Satisfaction
The Issue: 69% of the total survey respondents strongly agree that unemployment is a major concern in their parish. Some of the core issues around this topic include:
l    Unemployment linked with underemployment
l    A number of people are dissatisfied because of jobs that are mismatched to their skill
l    Many qualified people are working at call centers as they do not find other alternatives
l    Some are forced to accept jobs only to ensure that they make ends meet
l    Many youthare not aware of available options or fail to pursue areas that they are genuinely interested in
l    Some while searching for a job quickly get disheartened and join anti-social groups and gangs
l    Often young adults are unable to manage their finances during difficult times and hence get into the vicious circle of borrowing, living on credit etc.
Desired Outcome: Individuals need jobs to sustain themselves and their families – while also upgrading their skills to maximize their potential. Developing skills will open up new avenues for people – possibly allowing them to focus on things they are genuinely interested in.
Possible Ways Forward:
l    We need to counsel young adults to use their talents at their job in order to find fulfillment and satisfaction.
l    Can schools provide realistic career guidance and aptitude tests based on current new age job options?
l    Rope in entrepreneurs and senior business leaders from industry, to give motivational talks/weekend training to young adults. Parishes shouldwork with them to offer summer job opportunities/projects to young adults to get them thinking of a career direction?
l    Parishes should maintain an employment cell and tie up with search firms to provide a bank of talent. A possible common database framework across parishes can be a big win for search firms and parishioners.
l    The Power to Lead program has played a key role in exposing some of the best talent in our parishes to managerial inputs. The alumni of the Power to Lead program could create industry relevant modules that will impart to young adults and others critical skills with respect to communication, managerial skills and etiquette. (Exposure to industry relevant skills being a reason why some join call centers.)
l    Can we inculcate a culture of dignity of labor – no matter what job one does because in many cases a persons’ trade is their prayer. Parish teams should work together on parish tasks – for instance – cleaning the Church over the weekend (Sirach Ch38: 24 - 34)
2)  Spirituality at the Workplace
The Issue: Our common experience suggests that living out our Christian spirituality at the workplace is often challenging. Office politics calls into question our honesty; our busy work schedules, stretch our time so much that we seemingly don’t have time for prayer; questionable promotion policies tear at our integrity; and long hours at work – tend to make us believe we have a different life – and sometimes cushions our conscience allowing us to be less than faithful to our spouses and children.
Desired Outcome: It is essential that people experience our Christian values permeating all we do. Catholics should strive to be role models of human values. It’ll be impossible for us to live our Christian values if we are not rooted in prayer – so finding God in all things and making space for him in our lives is the need of the hour. Chastity is not a vow for priests – it’s a calling for all people who vow to one another or God to be faithful – we need to foster a family life that builds our core values that we live out at work.
Possible Ways Forward:
l    A short prayer/reflection on the day before the family goes to bed.
l    Sharing joys and pains with hope rather than reacting based on our tiredness from work.
l    Taking ten minutes before lunch and dinner to do an Examen (the famous Examination of Conscience that the Jesuit founder Ignatius shared with all).
l    Take a stroll away from your desk and colleagues…reflect on the ‘Christianness’ of your responses to situations.
l    Close your eyes wherever you might be and slow down your mind –empty it to allow God’s peace to flow in – so you act with His peace.
l    Stand up for what you believe in – integrity and honesty work best when they are exhibited in tandem – each moment of the day in everything you do.
l    Be honest about success and failure – when talking to peers, teams, or supervisors – it helps to celebrate achievements and learn from failures.
l    Do not be worried about the outcome – what’s the worst that can happen – you’ll lose your job – you’ll find another one – worthy of you – and of your value system.
l    If you see someone lying or doing something unethical – have the courage to confront the person with love; do the right thing so that if others are impacted by lies and deceit you respond to that situation so justice prevails.
l    Begin adult catechism classes/ groups in parishes where the CCC is discussed and studied –as discussion groups rather than receptive groups - this will help make our faith relevant to our daily lives, especially while dealing with situations at work.
3)  Relationships with Co-Workers
The Issue: An important aspect of living out our Christian spirituality is our relationships with other workers as colleagues or employers. Any workplace has people with different personalities working together. Day to day interactions with co-workers, employers and employees if not well managed lead to stress and frustration at work. Though subtle, gender bias still exists at the workplace. In some organizations sexual harassment remains an ugly fact of life. An overall lack of positive professional relationships leads to a loss of productivity. Extramarital affairs result due to frequent and long interactions with co-workers, which not only hurt children but also damage &destroy marriages and families. Domestic workers are often treated very differently from how we expect to be treated at our workplace.
Desired Outcome: It is essential to have a positive ambience at the workplace; a healthy, cooperative and helpful attitude between employees. Each person should learn to appreciate diversity (of gender, culture and thought) at the workplace. Good relationships at the workplace are important for our physical, mental and emotional health and also for the results that we produce for the organization.
Possible Ways Forward:
l    Treat everyone with respect regardless of their position in the organization. At our own homes, treat our domestic workers with equal respect.
l    Organize domestic workers to ensure they have rights similar to what we expect as workers at our workplace.
l    Sensitize parishioners in their role as employers for domestic workers.
l    All forms of gossip at the workplace are to be strictly avoided- Use the “three sieves” of Socrates ‘Is it true?’, ‘Is it kind?’, and ‘Is it helpful?’
l    Counter negativity with positivity – so you are enabled to do your job better.
l    Strive to establish clear boundaries for work and working hours.
l    Let co-workers know you support them and are praying for them when difficulties arise in their lives.
l    Be sensitive to diversity – the Church can organize Sensitization workshops for parishes.
l    Be open to genuine feedback
l    If you see a coworker needs help, lend a helping hand.
l    Have in place coping mechanisms to deal with office realities such as politics, sexual harassment, gender bias. Could the Church help identify & empower people with coping mechanisms? Could this be done through talks/discussions -through support groups or relevant literature?
l    Parishes can start an active campaign on the relevance of the Eucharist in our lives – it seems to be disengaged with office realities. Part of the campaign could include monthly articles in the examiner/parish bulletin on ‘Spirituality at the workplace’. Such articles with a spiritual slant, applied to office realities can be important input, food for thought, and encouragement on our journey of living the Christian way of life at the workplace. 
l    A deeper understanding of the sacraments, (including marriage) will go a long way in living out our Christian values and being conscious of us being the body of Christ – the laity. This will help couples understand that marriage is a sacrament and a life- long commitment to each other. Parishes could actively support marriage encounter programs to enable couples to constantly work on their marriage.
Spirituality at the workplace is an extension and expression of our values and culture. Our workplace spirituality has an influence on the way we are as persons. Parishes can make efforts to better understand people’s workplace challenges – conceiving programs that empower people to live their Christian values even in difficult situations. We as Christians should take a lead to positively influence situations rather than being laid back victims – whether in the workplace or in society.
Questions for Discussion:
1.   Mention at least 3 most important ideas in the paper you agree with, giving reasons for the same
2.   Any suggestions relating to the implementation and the way forward regarding the above?
3.   Please mention any ideas in the paper you disagree with, giving reasons for the same

4.              Please mention any important aspects that you think have not been covered in the paper.

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