1645a The spiritual dimension in occupational health: a key emerging issue

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Abstract

Occupational Health (OH) is dedicated not only to prevent diseases but also to promote health in its global dimension, including the spiritual wellbeing. This dimension must not be confused with mental wellbeing or religious beliefs, since it refers to intangible assets and deep feelings such as ethics, compassion, dignity, tolerance, engagement, inclusiveness, sustainability and individual growth among others. In this respect, spirituality is complementary to the other dimensions of wellbeing at work such as the physical, mental and social ones.

Though this dimension has not been much studied in the field of Occupational Health up to now, it is more and more an emerging demand from people willing to give sense to their life by allowing these intangible assets to become factors of their wellbeing at work and in their private life. Surveys in Europe have shown that the young generation prefers a meaningful job than a lucrative one. The meaningfulness of work strongly depends on its coherence with the fundamental values of individuals. Moreover, it has been shown that the ‘Sense of Coherence’, the basic concept of Salutogenesis – science focusing on factors that support human health and well-being, rather than on factors that cause disease – is closely linked with ‘good health’ and implicitly related to spiritual values of individuals. Therefore, it becomes more and more obvious that OH has to open to this new field of research and to the transfer of these new factors into practice.

And the Science of Management too has opened its research on its spiritual dimension for many years now, as illustrated by the Spiritual Division of their international Academy of Management. New forms of management focusing on care (benevolent leadership for example) belong to these emerging issues that OH should promote and develop since they contribute to set up healthy and productive workplaces.

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