Will Holy Water Coolers Abound in Religious Workplaces?

Religion enters the workplace this New Year, just in time to aid workers in their search for ultimate office fulfillment.

Incorporating religion into the workplace is on the rise, and managers looking for innovative ways to increase employee performance can benefit from the trend. White-collar Allah is using his workplace powers to aid in a number of office-based problems, from stress, to addiction, to increased pressure to perform.
Reverend Ifan Roberts, General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Wales, notes that religious advocates should be present in all social settings; including work. Rev. Roberts cites occasions when inviting white-collar religious counselors into factories, airports and other workplaces has supported employees in times of need.  Visiting injured workers, and employees dealing with drug rehabilitation or family problems, Rev. Roberts packs a pious punch when it comes to supporting the healing of hires.
While the office may seem far from the Holy Land, it is a place where employees in the United Kingdom spend about a quarter of their time, or 39.5 hours/week in 2006. With so much time spent pencil-pushing, workers are starting to yearn for a daily divinity dose at work, and seek to live a holistic religious lifestyle, whether at the office, or at home.
Conversing with the creator at the water cooler may not be a common workplace occurrence, but religion is both overtly and subtly entering the office. And whether you’re fighting to get a leave from work for your upcoming pilgrimate, or working to change dress-codes at the office to accommodate your almighty apparel, you may be up for a challenge when convincing management of your devout desires to balance work and religious rights.
Before inviting the Yahweh, the Prophet Muhammad, or JC and the Divine Gang to tag along at the office, it may be wise to consider what you’re up against. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has noted a 75% increase in religious discrimination charges between 1993 and 2003 in the US. Although religion is gaining greater permission to enter into public realms, only 4 percent of US firms have religious accommodation policies that guarantee freedom of harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
Some workplaces seem to be working hand-in-hand with higher powers. The Virgin Mary has been spotted on a chocolately treat at Bodega Chocolates in California, and the Bongo Java Coffee Shop in Nashville produced a Mother Teresa-esque cinnamon bun that was later stolen by a cinna-burglar. 
The management opinion on religion in the workplace tends to vary based on geography and politics. 44% of executives from conservative states said religion does belong in the workplace, while just 24% of managers in democrat states could agree.
Does that bearded happy worker in your neighboring cubicle bring a staff to work and speak in tongues? Religion may be the new secret to keeping spirits high at work. Christina Maslach, a US-based expert of workplace burnout, notes that professionals who throw their hearts into their work often become disenchanted and cynical as a result of workplace disappointment and depression. By keeping a healthy stock of ordained office supplies at your desk, (i.e. giving your holy book a look at break, or taking time for a shout-out to your God of choice) religion may be the business holy water that prevents burnouts and keeps workplace spirits high.
Is it getting hot in your office place? Leave your pitch fork at home and consider how religious accommodation can help your employees to perform like angels. If you’re not into going religious, try idolizing the divine qualities of the automatically replenishing storage closet. And pray that you don’t get caught stealing its sacred supplies!


Evan Vincent
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