Union Pacific Devoting Spaces for Employee Prayer and Meditation

Union Pacific's Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room

Employees inside Union Pacific’s Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Room in Omaha, including Mubashir Shaik, systems engineer, at the washing station. Group photo, back row from left: Weslyene Lee, senior manager-Risk Management; Ravneet Gill, senior director-Legal Operations; and Josh Perkes, vice president, Loup Logistics; front row from left: Melissa Schop, senior manager-Environmental; and Shaik.

Union Pacific employees at the railroad’s Omaha and Spring, Texas, facilities now have a dedicated space to pray, meditate or take a quiet moment. Driven by employee feedback, these spaces are meaningful to employees who practice a religion requiring prayer at specific times, such as Muslims and Orthodox Jews, and those simply seeking time to meditate or reflect.

“I’m able to fulfill my religious obligations while I’m at work,” said Mubashir Shaik, systems engineer. “I don’t need to hide that aspect of myself, and I feel others will be inclusive of me since the prayer room is sponsored by the company.”

Located on the sixth floor of UP’s Omaha headquarters and the first floor of its Southern Region headquarters in Spring, Texas, the rooms are available 24/7 and enable employees to bring their whole selves to work.

“For me personally, it demonstrates UP cares about my personal well-being and making me feel included,” said Melissa Schop, senior manager-Environmental. “When I can bring my whole self to work in a safe, empathetic and inclusive environment, I experience more job satisfaction and engagement.”

The Omaha room features prayer mats, a washing station, pews, private spaces and religious books donated by employees. So far, religious writings include Islam, Judaism, Catholicism, Sikhism and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with hope to expand. The only rules are to enter the room respectfully and quietly, and be mindful of areas where shoes shouldn’t be worn.

Thanks to Bobbi Johnson, senior director-Operations Support, and her leadership team, the Spring space opened earlier this year to all employees and visitors.

“We serve a diverse workforce,” said Polly Harris, vice president-Human Resources. “Creating an inclusive environment where every team member feels comfortable and belongs is important. These spaces are for everyone and support employee well-being.”

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