In a recent study by Baylor University investigating how faith might affect the workplace, evidence shows that Catholics win out over Christian Evangelicals in terms of who is the most emotionally committed to their place of employment.
The one mitigating factor, according to the study, is how big the company is. The smaller the company, data suggests, the more committed the Catholic is.
A Baylor press release stated that, “When they work for companies with 2,000 or more employees, the emotional commitment to the workplace [among Catholics] is similar to that of individuals with lower attachments to God.”
Blake V. Kent, a sociologist in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, headed the study and said he wanted to examine Evangelical Christians and Catholics in comparison due to their different viewpoints about how they approach and think about work and the workplace.
Yet, Kent said he can’t be certain of the reason for the differences the study found, guessing that “for religious believers, being committed to work may be a way of ‘doing’ a religious commitment — not just earning a paycheck, but rather, cooperating with God for a larger purpose.”
The findings may strike observers as counter-intuitive, for a couple of reasons.
First, historically it’s been Protestants, not Catholics, generally credited with investing the “Protestant Work Ethic,” a phrase made famous by German sociologist Max Weber. His idea was that the emphasis in Calvinism especially on demonstrating one’s salvation through hard work and frugality fueled the development of capitalism in the West.
In addition, there’s the concept of the “prosperity gospel” in both Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity, which holds that faithful Christian life will be rewarded with financial and material success.
Kent expanded on earlier research focusing on people who experience God as a “secure base” for attachments, and therefore find more job satisfaction as well as an emotional commitment to those jobs.
Kent’s study — “Attachment to God, religious tradition and firm attributes in workplace commitment” is published in The Journal of Social Psychology.
In the current study, Kent analyzed data taken from a random U.S. sample of adults done by Gallup in 2010.
The press release states that “respondents included 739 working adults who believe in God or a higher power and are from one of four religious groups: Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestants and those not affiliated with a particular faith tradition. (Jews and Black Protestants were among those in the sample, but there were too few for significant findings about their work commitments.)”
The other finding that surfaced in the study is that people who have no religious affiliation are not likely to have an attachment to God, and they are also at the back of the bus in terms of their feelings of commitment towards their workplaces.
Their scores were considerably lower on the scale of workplace attachment than that of Catholics and Evangelicals.
There may be a real world application to the study, as employers always want their employees to be committed to their workplace, and for them to understand the reasons for workers to have such attachments could be very useful.
These sorts of attachments lead to lower levels of turnover and absenteeism and higher levels of productivity, as well as better overall job performance.
Kent wanted to stress that his findings should not be used by small businesses to disproportionately hire Catholics rather than Evangelicals, however tempted they may be.