"For many people, religion is the core of their lives," researcher Sooyeol Kim said. "Being able to express important aspects of one's life can influence work-related issues, such as job satisfaction, work performance or engagement. It can be beneficial for organizations to have a climate that is welcoming to every religion and culture."
An important limitation of the study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, however, was that it only looked at Christian employees. Further research needs to be done to study other faiths, and especially whether those unaffiliated with a religion have positive or negative attitudes toward speaking about their beliefs.
Still, for those with beliefs, "disclosing your religion can be beneficial for employees and individual well-being," Kim said. "When you try to hide your identity, you have to pretend or you have to lie to others, which can be stressful and negatively impact how you build relationships with co-workers."
Kim said there are several ways employees can share their religion in the workplace. Employees might decorate their desk with a religious object, such as a cross or a calendar. They also may share stories or information about their religious beliefs during conversation, such as describing a church-related event.
Kim said the research on religion in the workplace plays a part into work-life balance. Research continues to show that individual characteristics — such as family and religion — can influence work-related issues.
"People can bring nonworking issues into the workplace or they may bring a work issue into their nonworking domain," Kim said. "Now days that boundary is blurred and there are less clear distinctions between work and personal life."
* Applying models of employee identity management across cultures: Christianity in the USA and South Korea by co-authors on the study include Brent Lyons, assistant professor of management and organization studies at Simon Fraser University; Jennifer Wessel, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Maryland; Sonia Ghumman, assistant professor of management at the University of Hawaii, Manoa; and Ann Marie Ryan, professor of psychology at Michigan State University, and Sooyeol Kim of Kansas State University.