Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


Quick Studies

creation.jpg

(Photo: Public Domain)

Does Faith Make You a Better Worker?

• June 26, 2014 • 2:00 AM

(Photo: Public Domain)

If you attend a church that promotes messages about faith and employment, you might be more committed, satisfied, and entrepreneurial on the job.

For the extremely faithful, everything seems to be, in some way, observed and refracted through the prism of God. The beautiful—double rainbows, bluejays, cascading waterfalls—and auspicious—locating a parking space in San Francisco, extended happy hour specials, a chance encounter with an old friend—make this kind of religious-tinged perception easy: They can be symbols of celestial beneficence.

Some of the faithful, though, take it a step further, and see spiritual connections in the desolate corners of their day jobs, even where there might not be any clear ones. “I am called to clean sewage out of this pipe, for this menial task will help me provide for my children and fulfill God’s purpose,” a plumber might think. Of course, this might become more difficult when compensated tasks veer into not-so-moral territory. “I manufacture nuclear weapons because God…” an executive at a missile company might try to reason.

Some of the faithful see spiritual connections in the desolate corners of their day jobs, even where there might not be any clear ones.

Despite the sometimes difficult task of seeing God in work, someone who manages to embrace the notion that work and faith are fully aligned might actually make for a more committed, satisfied, and entrepreneurial employee, when compared to other full-time workers, even other religious ones, according to a study published in the summer issue of Sociology of Religion. 

The research team, led by Baylor University associate professor of sociology Jerry Park, surveyed “a nationally representative” sample of 1,022 full-time adult workers about their church attendance, congregational values, and work behavior. After controlling for “hours worked per week, organizational firm size … white collar professional occupational status” and “religious tradition,” among other variables, the team found that actively attending a church congregation with a strong work-faith philosophy was significantly associated with higher affective organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and entrepreneurial attitudes. “Rather than treating work experience and religious experience as nonoverlapping features of workers’ lives, our study suggests that participation in religious congregations and the messages that are promoted matters for many fulltime workers,” the researchers conclude.

The fact that congregation membership and values had to be paired with active attendance in order to produce positive work correlations surprised Park. “Oftentimes our explanations for the impact of religion are much more blunt: it’s either go to church, or identify a belief or practice,” Park says in an email. “This interaction suggests that both of these alone do not explain the effect that being in certain congregations could have on workplace attitudes.”

Of course, Park isn’t totally certain that the correlation doesn’t work the opposite way. It might be that those who are better workers seek out congregations that emphasize strong work-faith values and simply attend more often once they’ve joined.

Though this study mainly focused on religious workers, Park also plans to more rigorously examine whether atheism and agnosticism are actually correlated with less job satisfaction.

Ryan Jacobs
Associate Digital Editor Ryan Jacobs joined Pacific Standard from The Atlantic, where he wrote for and produced the magazine’s Global and China channels online. Before that, he was a senior editorial fellow at Mother Jones. Follow him on Twitter @Ryanj899.

More From Ryan Jacobs

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

October 24 • 4:00 PM

We Need to Normalize Drug Use in Our Society

After the disastrous misconceptions of the 20th century, we’re returning to the idea that drugs are an ordinary part of life experience and no more cause addiction than do other behaviors. This is rational and welcome.


October 24 • 2:00 PM

A Letter to the Next Attorney General: Fix Presidential Pardons

More than two years ago, a series showed that white applicants were far more likely to receive clemency than comparable applicants who were black. Since then, the government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a study, but the pardons system remains unchanged.


October 24 • 12:00 PM

What Makes You So Smart, Middle School Math Teacher?

Noah Davis talks to Vern Williams about what makes middle school—yes, middle school—so great.


October 24 • 10:00 AM

Why DNA Is One of Humanity’s Greatest Inventions

How we’ve co-opted our genetic material to change our world.


October 24 • 8:00 AM

What Do Clowns Think of Clowns?

Three major players weigh in on the current state of the clown.


October 24 • 7:13 AM

There Is No Surge in Illegal Immigration

The overall rate of illegal immigration has actually decreased significantly in the last 10 years. The time is ripe for immigration reform.


October 24 • 6:15 AM

Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.


October 24 • 5:00 AM

Why We Gossip: It’s Really All About Ourselves

New research from the Netherlands finds stories we hear about others help us determine how we’re doing.


October 24 • 2:00 AM

Congratulations, Your City Is Dying!

Don’t take population numbers at face value.


October 23 • 4:00 PM

Of Course Marijuana Addiction Exists

The polarized legalization debate leads to exaggerated claims and denials about pot’s potential harms. The truth lies somewhere in between.


October 23 • 2:00 PM

American Companies Are Getting Way Too Cozy With the National Security Agency

Newly released documents describe “contractual relationships” between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as undercover operatives.


October 23 • 12:00 PM

The Man Who’s Quantifying New York City

Noah Davis talks to the proprietor of I Quant NY. His methodology: a little something called “addition.”


October 23 • 11:02 AM

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.


October 23 • 10:00 AM

The Psychology of Bribery and Corruption

An FBI agent offered up confidential information about a political operative’s enemy in exchange for cash—and they both got caught. What were they thinking?


October 23 • 8:00 AM

Ebola News Gives Me a Guilty Thrill. Am I Crazy?

What it means to feel a little excited about the prospect of a horrific event.


October 23 • 7:04 AM

Why Don’t Men Read Romance Novels?

A lot of men just don’t read fiction, and if they do, structural misogyny drives them away from the genre.


October 23 • 6:00 AM

Why Do Americans Pray?

It depends on how you ask.


October 23 • 4:00 AM

Musicians Are Better Multitaskers

New research from Canada finds trained musicians more efficiently switch from one mental task to another.


October 22 • 4:00 PM

The Last Thing the Women’s Movement Needs Is a Heroic Male Takeover

Is the United Nations’ #HeForShe campaign helping feminism?


October 22 • 2:00 PM

Turning Public Education Into Private Profits

Baker Mitchell is a politically connected North Carolina businessman who celebrates the power of the free market. Every year, millions of public education dollars flow through Mitchell’s chain of four non-profit charter schools to for-profit companies he controls.


October 22 • 12:00 PM

Will the End of a Tax Loophole Kill Off Irish Business and Force Google and Apple to Pay Up?

U.S. technology giants have constructed international offices in Dublin in order to take advantage of favorable tax policies that are now changing. But Ireland might have enough other draws to keep them there even when costs climb.


October 22 • 10:00 AM

Veterans in the Ivory Tower

Why there aren’t enough veterans at America’s top schools—and what some people are trying to do to change that.


October 22 • 8:00 AM

Our Language Prejudices Don’t Make No Sense

We should embrace the fact that there’s no single recipe for English. Making fun of people for replacing “ask” with “aks,” or for frequently using double negatives just makes you look like the unsophisticated one.


October 22 • 7:04 AM

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.


October 22 • 6:00 AM

How We Form Our Routines

Whether it’s a morning cup of coffee or a glass of warm milk before bed, we all have our habitual processions. The way they become engrained, though, varies from person to person.


Follow us


Politicians Really Aren’t Better Decision Makers

Politicians took part in a classic choice experiment but failed to do better than the rest of us.

Earliest High-Altitude Settlements Found in Peru

Discovery suggests humans adapted to high altitude faster than previously thought.

My Politicians Are Better Looking Than Yours

A new study finds we judge the cover by the book—or at least the party.

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.