A new survey from the Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life reveals that far from being a negative thing, having a religious faith means you’re more likely to work hard, trust your colleagues and be satisfied in your job. It’s something to celebrate, says Mark Greene


Source: Andrea Piacquadio: pexels.com

New research indicates that an active religious faith - whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist or Jewish - makes a significant difference to people’s attitudes to and performance at work. In essence, people of faith are more likely to trust their colleagues, be satisfied in their work and believe it’s important to do their job well.

No surprises there, you might think. But before we get too smug, let’s acknowledge that there are also plenty of people with faith who aren’t model employees. And we know that Christians (as well as Christian-run charities and organisations) have no monopoly on excellence. Indeed, there are some that may not be run at all well, or staffed with committed, dutiful workers.

However, the results of this study from the Institute for the Impact of Faith in Life (IIFL) make it clear that, all other things being equal, rather than being hesitant to employ people of faith, employers might well look favourably upon it.

Let’s look at some of the results:

Doing your best

You’d think no one would admit to thinking that doing their job thoroughly is unimportant. But actually, 16 per cent of atheists were happy to say just that, compared to just four per cent of those with a religious belief.

There’s no room for complacency, and plenty of room for improvement, but there’s certainly also reason to be grateful

Of course, it should be no surprise people of faith are more likely to work hard than their non-religious colleagues: the exhortations to honour your employer and work diligently are strong values in Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. That ought to make a difference and, in reality, it seems that it does.

Happy at work

Interestingly, people of faith also report higher levels of job satisfaction than atheists or those with no religious affiliation. More than three in four people with an active faith (77 per cent) reported being satisfied with their job, compared with 50 per cent of atheists. Conversely, 27 per cent of atheists were dissatisfied with their job, compared with just ten per cent of believers.

There could be all kinds of reasons for this, not least that they see a higher purpose in their work, or view it as a way to express their devotion to God, as Christians are called to do in Colossians 3:23–24. That can mitigate against a sense of meaninglessness about work in general.

Assuming the best

The question of values also comes into play in terms of how much people trust their colleagues. Here the difference is startling.

Nearly three in four workers with a strong religious affiliation (76 per cent) said they trusted their work colleagues, compared to just under half (49 per cent) of atheists. Just eight per cent of people with a faith distrusted their work colleagues and professional contacts, compared with 29 per cent of atheists.

We know Christian-run charities and organisations have no monopoly on excellence

There are many reasons why non-religious people score so differently. Without religious affiliation, people may be more likely to see the world (and life itself) as the result of random biological and physical processes without any overarching purpose. As such, the universe is indifferent. Humans are not precious beings created purposefully by a loving deity but, rather, the by-product of random forces in thrall to their biologically-wired drive to survive at all costs. Perhaps if you think that’s what a human being is, you might be less likely to trust them.


Encouragingly, the vast majority of people of faith also had a positive view of how their employers treated them in relation to their beliefs, with three in four (73 per cent) saying their religious beliefs and practices were accommodated and respected at work. Only two per cent felt negatively about this, with 20 per cent neutral.

Of course, this doesn’t obviate the reality that there are many contexts where Christians (and people of other faiths) do suffer significant constraints – and even outright discrimination. There’s no room for complacency, and plenty of room for improvement, but there’s certainly also reason to be grateful.

What these results don’t tell us, of course, is what our co-workers think about the people of faith they work with. Let’s hope they trust us at least as much as we trust them.