26 Apr #170 – Integrity Idea 023: Segregate Sacred Space
ESSENCE: Integrity Ideas are specific actions a faithful leader can consider in leading faithfully through business a better way.
INTEGRITY IDEA: Segregate Sacred Space
COVERT-OVERT CONTINUUM (six Continuums for action): Practices
COVERT-OVERT RATING (several levels from Highly Covert to Highly Overt): Highly Covert
STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees
Most Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization. “Segregate Sacred Space” is about (1) creating a space where employees can go to sit silently and pray, meditate or “chill” AND (2) encouraging its use. It recognizes that prayer is not just for church/synagogue and that the Bible calls for people to “pray without ceasing”, and it supports the idea of employees bringing their “whole self” to work. It also recognizes that quiet breaks during work can help reduce stress, improve mental health, and contribute to employee well-being, creativity and productivity–all aspects of Humanizing that promote human flourishing. “Segregate Sacred Space” can be one easy way to lead faithfully through business a better way by curating and reinforcing a caring and compassionate organizational culture that aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.
Integrity Ideas are specific actions a leader can consider during the Re-Align step of Integriosity®–actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. You can find more Integrity Ideas at Integrous | Integrity Ideas (integriosity.com)
Integrity Ideas are practical actions toward implementing a bigger WHY for the organization. We believe some are critical (and necessary) steps in the RENEW/RE-ALIGN/RE-IMAGINE/RESTORE process. Others are just ideas to be considered if they feel like a good fit based on what leaders prayerfully discern is best for stewarding the organization toward its WHY.
“Segregate Sacred Space” falls into the “if its a good fit” category. Whether it is easy, difficult or impractical to institute will depend on the nature of the organization’s space and activities.
INTEGRITY IDEA: Segregate Sacred Space
“Segregate Sacred Space” is about (1) creating a space where employees can go to sit silently and pray, meditate, or “chill” AND (2) encouraging its use.
Biblical Prayer. From a Biblical perspective, “Segregate Sacred Space” recognizes that prayer is not just for Sundays (or Saturdays) and not just for church (or synagogue). People who are practicing a Biblical faith are called to be praying throughout their day.
“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.” (Psalm 86:3)
“Every day I call upon you, O Lord.” (Psalm 88:9)
“pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
It also recognizes the example set by Jesus of finding a secluded place to pray. For example:
• And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. (Matthew 14:23)
• But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:16)
• And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)
Whole Self. “Segregate Sacred Space” also supports the idea that employees should be encouraged to bring their “whole self” to work. Back in post #130 (Promote an ERG), we specifically addressed the Integrity Idea of supporting the formation of a Biblically faith-based Employee Resource Group (ERG). A faith-based ERG is a way, particularly for a larger organization, to extend the focus on diversity to religious diversity, recognizing that a person’s faith can be a big part of “who they are” that shouldn’t be stigmatized or forced to be hidden at work.
In that spirit, a quiet segregated space can offer a place of prayer for employees of various faith traditions. It can also support employees who practice various forms of non-faith meditation as a means of relaxation.
General Well-Being. The idea that breaks during a work day are healthy seems undisputed. Just search the Internet for “benefits of taking a break at work”. “Segregate Sacred Space” recognizes that quiet breaks during work can help reduce stress, improve mental health, and contribute to employee well-being, creativity and productivity–all aspects of Humanizing that promote human flourishing. We have often emphasized that people are more “fully human” when engaged in meaningful work that unleashes their God-given productivity and creativity in a culture of Shalom built on Biblical principles of relationships, community and human dignity.
As easy as it may be to segregate a quiet space, its benefits will not be realized, and people will not be Humanized, unless the organization encourages (both in words and behavior) the use of that space. A 2021 survey by Tork found that “nearly 40 percent (39%) of people say they only occasionally, rarely or never take breaks during the workday” and “nearly a quarter (22%) of people feel guilty or judged when they step away from work midday“. The Tork study (which focused on lunch breaks) found:
• 94% of employees agree that taking a break gives them a chance to take a step back and get a fresh perspective.
• 91% of employees and 93% of bosses agree or strongly agree that taking a break is an important part of maintaining their mental focus.
• 88% of employees and 91% of bosses say they return to work feeling refreshed and reenergized after taking a break.
• More than 9 in 10 employees say they are more likely to stay at a company where bosses encourage their employees to take a break.
“Segregate Sacred Space” done right can be one easy step toward leading faithfully through business a better way by curating and reinforcing a caring and compassionate organizational culture that aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities. It is one step toward what Don Flow, CEO of Flow Automotive Companies, describes as treating people as “whole persons” with dignity and respect:
Everybody’s work counts, everybody’s work makes a difference, and everybody deserves to be treated with respect. . . . We want to treat employees as whole persons.
The Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums. There is nothing magic about these categories, but we believe they are helpful in thinking about practical execution of a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture. The Continuums are Prayer, Proclamation, Policies, Practices, Products, People.
Each Continuum represents an area in which leaders can begin to think about, plan and institute Re-Alignment changes to the heart of the organization.
“Segregate Sacred Space” is on the Practices Continuum. It is a practice the organization can adopt to affirm its commitment to curating and reinforcing a caring and compassionate organizational culture that aligns with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities
COVERT-OVERT RATING: Highly Covert
The Integriosity model breaks the Covert-Overt Continuums into six gradations–from Highly Covert to Highly Overt–that we believe are helpful in beginning to pray and think about what is most appropriate for an organization at a particular moment in time.
Most Integrity Ideas will have one place on the scale. Some can vary depending on how they are implemented. We identify “Segregate Sacred Space” as Highly Covert (An action that would be taken by a secular company) because every organization could and should strive to care for employees by implementing practices that help reduce stress, improve mental health, and contribute to employee well-being, creativity and productivity.
In addition, many secular companies are embracing the “diversity” idea that employees should be encouraged to bring their “whole selves” to work. Places set aside by organizations for prayer have been designed to accommodate people of various faith traditions.
“Segregate Sacred Space” can also be Overt (An overtly faith-based action known generally within the organization) if the faithful leaders of the organization choose to implement the quiet space as a Biblically faith-based “prayer room”, which could even include features such as kneeling stations, Bibles and religious icons.
STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees
When we categorize faith-based actions, we also consider the stakeholders principally impacted by the action: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community and Kingdom.
“Segregate Sacred Space” principally serves employees by treating them as a “whole person” and caring for their well-being.
We want to treat employees as whole persons. (Don Flow)
Implementation of “Segregate Sacred Space” requires addressing three key questions: WHERE, WHEN and HOW.
• WHERE: Whether or not this is an easy question will depend on the nature of the organization’s space. Here are a few questions to consider:
• Is there a separate room that can be designated and dedicated as a quiet space? Is there a need for multiple spaces (e.g., on separate floors or in different buildings) to minimize disruption to work dynamics?
• If there is not a space that can be designated, is there a space such as a conference room that can be made available at specified times?
• If the organization’s space is more open (such as a theatre or movie set), is there an area that can be designated as a place for quiet prayer/meditation (perhaps separated with a curtain that can be drawn), either at all times or at specified times?
• Is there a tranquil outdoor space that can be designated?
• WHEN: The timing of breaks will depend on the nature of the organization’s activities.
• Is the nature of the activities independent enough (such as in an office setting) that employees can be given the freedom to take breaks at times of their choosing?
• If employees taking breaks at random times would be disruptive to the activities of the organization (such as in a manufacturing environment where people’s activities are dependent on the progress of others or in an environment where activities are group focused), are there times that can be designated?
• Will faith traditions be accommodated that have set prayer times (e.g., Muslim prayer times)? If so, will the area be designated only for those traditions during those times?
• Will there be rules or guidelines on the amount of time that may be taken in a work day?
• HOW: This is where the most variation in implementation will occur.
• Will the space be designated as a “prayer” space or more generically as a “relaxation”, “reflection” or “quiet” space?
• How will it be furnished? How will it be lit?
• If a “prayer” space, will it be designed specifically to accommodate Biblical faith traditions or more specifically Christian or Jewish traditions (e.g., with an altar or kneeling stations)? Will it be a “multi-faith” space designed to accommodate other faith traditions? For example, accommodating Muslim prayer has implications for timing (prayer times are set), space (all people would be using it at the same time and there are restrictions as to use by men and women together) and additional facilities (such as for washing rituals). A company named WuDuMate (a manufacturer of supplies for multi-faith prayer rooms in workspaces publishes an informative booklet titled “Tips for Designing a Multi-Faith Room” that goes into great detail about some of the traditions to be considered in accommodating various faiths.
• Will there be materials (e.g., Bibles, Torah, Koran) or icons for one or several faiths? If so, will there be storage so people of other faiths or no faith can “put away” any materials or icons they find uncomfortable?
• How will the organization encourage employees to utilize the quiet space and ensure that the culture of the organization (including the behavior of managers) supports that utilization.
In implementing “Segregate a Sacred Space”, the answers to many of these questions will ultimately come back to the WHY behind the initiative.
• Is the priority caring for the well-being of, and Humanizing, all employees by creating a space for them to “take a break” in the way that most aligns with their beliefs, whether that is prayer, meditation or simply sitting in silence?
• Is the priority to promote diversity and accommodate the faith traditions of all employees in order to encourage them to “bring their whole selves” to work?
• Is the priority to reinforce an overtly Biblical faith-based culture and provide those of Biblical faith a place to pray to the God of the Bible?
Whatever the answer, a faithful leader must consider the cultural impact of the decisions, including the impact on employee who will feel “included” and on those who may feel “excluded”. Leading faithfully requires recognizing that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, because every person is created in the image of God. Leading faithfully requires being intentional about moving the organization toward its collective divine design through business a better way so that flourishing of the people it touches is maximized.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): As a lawyer, “sacred space” was easy because I had a private office and the flexibility to step away. In theory, I could close the door any time for privacy and quiet. In practice, days flew by with little thought of “taking a break”. As an associate, meals were frequently eaten at my desk (which could provide some “break”). Although I have experienced in brief doses (in real life and in movies) the constant chatter of an open-space office with cubicles, the cacophony of a trading floor with people shouting and the constant noise of a manufacturing space with machines humming, I have never experienced those environments for eight hours and can’t even imagine them for eight hours without quiet breaks. In any environment, the absence of meaningful breaks (including not taking a break for lunch) must be part of the business as usual push that has led to so much brokenness in work, workplaces and workers.