Newswise — WACO, Texas (June 20, 2014) — A congregation’s beliefs about work attitudes and practices affect a churchgoer on the job — but how much depends in part on how involved that person is in the congregation, according to a study by Baylor University sociologists funded by the National Science Foundation.
“We already knew that about 60 percent of American adults are affiliated with congregations, but we wanted to delve into whether that carries over from weekend worship services to the work day,” said Jerry Z. Park, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “It turns out it does make some difference in their attitudes at work. That means it has a potential ‘payoff’ not only for employers, but for employees themselves.”
Researchers asked a random sample of full-time employees if they attended a place of worship, and if so, they were then asked whether their congregation emphasized integrating their faith in the workplace through “sacrificial love” to their co-workers, sensing God’s presence at work among others. What seemed to make the difference, researchers found, was frequent attendance at a church that stressed a merge of faith and work. Simply being at such a congregation – or just attending any church – did not result in greater work satisfaction or dedication.
The analysis of data — “Workplace-Bridging Religious Capital: Connecting Congregations to Work Outcomes” — is published in the journal Sociology of Religion.
Researchers’ analysis was based on the National Survey of Work, Entrepreneurship and Religion, a 2010 Web-based survey of 1,022 fulltime workers. Their findings concentrated on three areas:
• Job satisfaction: Full-time workers who regularly attend a congregation that emphasizes integrating their faith at work report higher job satisfaction.
• Job commitment: Full-time workers who regularly attend a congregation that emphasizes integrating their faith at work report higher commitment to their place of employment.
• Entrepreneurship: People who are actively involved in in congregations that promote integration of faith with work are more likely to describe themselves as entrepreneurial, Park said. However, attendance seems to impede entrepreneurship — perhaps because time and energy spent in entrepreneurial endeavors leaves less time for church attendance.
How religion affects job satisfaction, commitment to one’s job and entrepreneurship was measured by researchers using a 15-item Congregational Faith at Work Scale, Park said. That scale includes such items as whether respondents sense God’s presence while they work, whether they view their work as having eternal significance, whether they view co-workers as being made in the image of God, whether they believe they should demonstrate “sacrificial love” toward co-workers and whether they believe God wants them to develop their abilities and talents at work.
Workplace attitudes such as job commitment also were evaluated by a variety of items that asked how much participants felt like “part of the family” at their organization, how efficiently they get proposed actions through “bureaucratic red tape” and whether they “went to bat” for good ideas of co-workers.
Max Weber, an early social theorist, argued that Protestants who lived strict, simple lives — such as the Calvinists of the 16th and 17th centuries — viewed their worldly employment as service to God, so religion added significance to labor. Success in business was viewed as confirmation of salvation.
“Religious participation is an active part of life for millions of Americans, and it is relevant in other domains,” the study concluded.
Co-authors were researchers Jenna Griebel Rogers, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Baylor; Mitchell J. Neubert, Ph.D., associate professor and holder of The Hazel and Harry Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business; and Kevin D. Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.
ABOUT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES
The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 26 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit www.baylor.edu/artsandsciences.