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The Complexities of Employee Engagement

February 01 2021 - by Dr. Lois Parkes, Leadership and Institutional Strengthening Specialist, CARICAD

Through our various capacity development programmes, CARICAD has the privilege to serve its many participants, who in turn, never fail to inspire our team with their contribution to the development of their respective organisations, countries and the wider Caribbean region.

Very recently, we were received a testimonial from a participant about the successful roll-out of an innovation birthed from her participation in one of our Leadership Development Programmes, and its attendant Improvement Project (more details will be shared in our next newsletter). This experience, along with working along with other participants working on change initiatives around employee engagement, inspired further reflection on how organisations achieve employee engagement, and increased employee contribution and organizational productivity. Here are some pointers to consider, as you might be grappling with this challenge of increasing employee engagement:

1 .Employee engagement is about leadership creating the space for staff to be empowered to contribute their best.

2. Leaders are also staff. This is a point often overlooked. In fact, they are staff first, leaders second. Even as we ask leaders to create that space to facilitate employee  engagement, we should also ask:

  •  To what extent do leaders themselves believe that they are engaged? Empowered? Can leaders create an environment of engagement for their team, if they themselves are not the recipient of that same provision?

3. Then  there is the dimension of individual agency. Ultimately employee engagement is a choice. Each organisational member ultimately has to make the choice whether to engage or not. That choice is not always the result of having an ideal organisational context for engagement. In fact, it can actually be the opposite.

4. Engagement is indeed a complex dynamic. However, for change to occur, ultimately it must start at the individual and small team levels. When enough individuals and teams engage, you then get that wave and organisational-wide impact.

As you read and reflect on the above, please share your own perspectives on employee engagement challenges and strategies.