The benefits of religious diversity in the workplace

Societal shifts mean that it is critical to consider religion and belief in the workplace. Inclusive workplaces accept and encourage colleagues to feel confident to bring that part of themselves to work. Organisations where employees feel safe to share their faith at work will reap the benefits of religious diversity. Read on to find out what they are.

Why is there more religious diversity in the workplace?

Immigration to the UK has meant that there has been a diversification and an increase in people who choose to identify with a religion.

The 2011 census indicated an increase in those following non-Christian beliefs from 5.8% to 8.4% of the population. This is likely to be reflected in many workplaces.

When the data from the 2021 census is released, it is likely to show that this trend has increased. Interestingly, a citizenship survey conducted in 2010 indicated that 80% of self-declared Muslims are likely to actively practice their religion, compared to 32% of self-declared Christians.

The benefits of religious diversity in the workplace

With these influencing factors in mind, it is important to understand how freedom of religion at work can make your workplace more inclusive. Religious diversity will enable you to be confident to attract and retain a workforce that reflects the society you operate in. It will give you the opportunity to address religious bias in the workplace and will bring diversity of thought, alongside many other benefits that are explored in more detail below.

Internationalisation of operations

Internationalisation means that organisations need to be aware of the religious customs and practices in each country or community that they operate in. It’s important to understand these customs and practices in context of your organisation’s values and behaviours. A mismatch can lead to poor employee retention, engagement and dissatisfied customers.

Varied organisational benefits

There is wide acceptance of the organisational and social benefits of workforce diversity. As religious workplace diversity grows, consideration of religious inclusion will be critical to achieve and retain its benefits. 

Our anecdotal research suggests that colleagues with a religious conviction bring strong ethical values and different perspectives to the work they do, which is highly advantageous for many sectors.

In addition, employees who connect with the deeper purpose of their work through their beliefs are thought to be more resilient, responsive and passionate about their work. 

High-quality service delivery

The richness and diversity of thought that religious inclusion brings to the workplace will benefit all sectors. 

For sectors that have a diverse client or customer base this insight and sensitivity towards religious beliefs and practices will be especially valuable.

Examples include those working in, or as: healthcare, social workers, counsellors, psychologists, lawyers, judges and teachers. 

Creates an open culture

Employees today have different expectations of the workplace than their predecessors. 

In many societies people have the freedom to choose their value systems and beliefs. When people are more open like this they can be less willing to disconnect from their personal identities at work.

They expect to be able to express their views freely at work and be respected regardless.

People with strong beliefs may be more likely to seek alignment of their values in their work and in the organisations they work for.

Organisations that enable employee authenticity, like sharing your faith at work, are more likely to reap the associated benefits.

Supports employee well-being

Workplace well-being programmes are generally accepted as being important for organisational outcomes. 

Traditionally programmes focused on health and safety, stress and work-life balance, but more recently have extended to cover ‘spiritual needs’.

This recognises that religion can provide an additional source of well-being and comfort, particularly for those working in emotionally charged environments.  As a result, more organisations are now providing ‘quiet rooms’ for contemplation or prayer.

Creating a faith inclusive workplace with Inclusive Employers

We can see that religious diversity has many benefits to creating an engaged, productive and inspired workforce. To find out more about how to make faith inclusion an everyday reality in your organisation download our Religion and Belief in the Workplace package. It contains useful insight of the ethics and practices of the UK’s major religions and how organisations can accommodate them. Members, please download the package for free here. Non-members, do get in touch here to obtain your copy.