Study relates religion to job satisfaction

Those who have a secure attachment to God are more likely to be committed to and satisfied with their work, according to a Baylor University study.

“Attachment to God, Vocational Calling and Worker Contentment” was published online in the Review of Religious Research in February. It was written by doctoral candidate in sociology Blake Kent, along with co-authors Dr. Matt Bradshaw and Dr. Kevin Dougherty, who are both professors of sociology.

The study used data from the Baylor Religion Survey, a national survey of 860 working adults who believe in God or a higher power.

The survey included questions about people’s relationships with God to categorize their attachment in one of three ways.

“There’s secure attachment, where he’s warm and close,” Kent said. “There’s insecure attachment, where you feel distant from God. There’s anxious attachment, where sometimes you think he’s real to you and sometimes he’s not.”

Bradshaw said that measuring and quantifying people’s attachment to God is challenging.

“Since one’s relationship with God is a perception, the only way to measure it is with self-reported questions,” Bradshaw said. “We asked our respondents whether they had a warm relationship with God, whether God knows when they need support and whether they feel like God is generally responsive to their needs.”

Kent said this method of measuring attachment was developed by Baylor psychology professor Dr. Wade Rowatt over a decade ago. Kent wanted to apply the psychological theory of attachment to the sociological study of groups and organizations.

“Essentially, I’m trying to bridge a sociological and psychological approach,” Kent said.

The researchers found that a warm, secure attachment to God correlates to higher levels of emotional attachment at work and better job satisfaction.

“These findings suggest that individuals who are securely attached to God tend to feel like their jobs and places of work are a manifestation of their connection with God, which subsequently leads to higher levels of emotional attachment to their jobs,” Bradshaw said.

Kent suggested that this study supports the idea that allowing employees to express their relationship to God in the workplace might lead to positive benefits when it comes to job commitment and satisfaction. He said this could be accomplished by something as simple as granting employees 15 minutes for meditation each day.

“Religion matters for work,” Dougherty said. “To ignore this fact is to ignore a powerful motivation driving the attitudes and actions of many Americans.”