by Kent Johnson, J.D., Senior Corporate Advisor, Religious Freedom & Business Foundation
Employees often feel unseen, disconnected and unappreciated. They long for a more significant connection; a solid sense of belonging. Here’s one suggestion to help shape a work culture in which your people feel free to connect more meaningfully: Invite them to interact in a forum focused on particular employees’ core beliefs.
The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) recently held a virtual event in which people were invited to gather in separate “rooms” of their choosing, each hosted by a representative of a particular faith or belief. For this gathering, the beliefs included Atheist, Bahai, Buddhist, Catholic, Friends of Bill (12-step programs), Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Scientology, Sikh, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Room hosts talked about the core beliefs that form their personal identity and inform their everyday work life.
This was not a “comparative religions” session. We didn’t enlist professionals to talk about particular religions. It was just employees from various companies, connecting informally with other employees who wanted to learn more about how the others’ core beliefs impact their workplace.
The response was very positive, including comments like: “We need more of this kind of connection!” “I learned so much!” “My preconceived ideas were challenged.” “This encouraged me to reach out to others who are not like me.”
Would you consider hosting a voluntary gathering around particular faiths and beliefs, like this, perhaps within your company? There’s nothing proprietary about the idea or the execution — the goal is simply to enable willing employees of various faiths to get to know their co-workers better.
If you’d like some pointers on how this kind of exchange might be facilitated at your company, RFBF can be a resource to you. In any case, it’s our hope (and prayer) that your workplace will embrace respectful and authentic communications around employees’ core beliefs. This will help strengthen your workplace culture by enabling employees to “see” one other more fully, to connect more deeply, and to truly appreciate one another.