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About usFaculty of Theology and Religious StudiesOrganizationAcademic staffPhD ResearchComparative Study of Religion

Heike Aiello

Collecting and interpreting interventions of spiritual caretakers in Dutch hospitals with regard to ‘making-meaning’ and its impact on intrinsic motivation

Management experts argue that tapping into spirituality at work benefits not only individual employees, but also the systems around them. But interventions and conversations that touch this realm are not regularly part of the workplace. How can organisations create a work environment that supports employees to connect with and consequently operate from their intrinsic motivation, which is tied, in our understanding, to ‘meaning-making’ and spirituality?

To answer this question, we use Appreciative Inquiry as a methodology to identify and understand the ways that spiritual caregivers in Dutch hospitals help employees “make deep connections with the core of what gives life to a human system” (Zandee and Cooperrider 2008, 194). The key-question of this qualitative study is: “How do spiritual caregivers in Dutch hospitals support employees in ‘meaning-making’, and what are the consequences on the employees’ intrinsic motivation?” We have identified four subquestions:

  1. Which successful interventions with regard to ‘meaning-making’ do spiritual caregivers perform in Dutch hospitals?
  2. What is the nature of these interventions (e.g. structural vs. incidental, organized vs. spontaneous, rooted in protocols vs. rooted in persons)?
  3. How are these interventions received (and recognized) by members of the respective organization in terms of intrinsic motivation?
  4. What is the impact of these findings with regard to HR-practices, and the profession and the training of spiritual caregivers?

We have observed a reluctance within professional organisations to address the concept of meaning-making. At the same time, employees report stress and insecurity by increasing workloads, focus on protocols, and uncertainty through reorganisations. Many express the need for support on questions regarding meaning-making and personal spirituality in order to keep, or restore their intrinsic motivation.

We assume that spiritual caregivers set a good example of how to help a person to make meaning of a (crisis-) situation that will have a positive, generative effect on the persons’ intrinsic motivation. One industry that officially employs professional spiritual caregivers is the healthcare industry. Presently, this group of spiritual caregivers focuses primarily on patient well-being. However, our recent pilot study conducted in the Netherlands, shows that up to 25% of their time is spent on supporting the well-being of staff; many spiritual caregivers are unaware of their positive impact on staff motivation.

Supervisor: Prof. dr. T.H. Zock

Last modified:29 July 2016 1.22 p.m.