Taking employee engagement to the next level

The 2018 Civil Service Engagement Survey results show improvement across all areas and, last week, more than 400 civil servants attended an event themed around “Taking Employee Engagement to the Next Level.”

There is clear evidence from international studies that there is a link between increasing levels of employee engagement having positive impacts on customer service, employee well-being and organisational performance.

Introducing the events, Graeme Jackson from the Portfolio of the Civil Service explained that improving employee engagement was a key component in helping us to become a World-Class Civil Service: “We are at a key turning point in cultivating employee engagement. For the first time, we can now show the link within the Cayman Islands Government in levels of improved customer service through the customer satisfaction terminals.”

The three days of events commenced with a one-day workshop for Chief Officers to agree the corporate level priorities for the Civil Service. This was followed by a continuous professional development event for senior leaders and a one-day workshop to help engagement champions in Ministries, Portfolios and Departments develop their individual engagement action plans.

Lee Cartwright and Alice Streatfield from ORC International – a market research company based on the UK which administers our annual survey – were on hand to interpret the 2018 engagement results while Nita Clarke from the Involvement & Participation Association provided practical illustrations of the impact of engagement and the role leaders play.

A panel of Chief Officers ended the senior leadership event, with Teresa Echenique, Cetonya Cacho, Wesley Howell and Gloria McField-Nixon answering questions from the audience and sharing their leadership narrative of why employee engagement matters.

Portfolio of the Civil Service Chief Officer Gloria McField-Nixon opened the senior leadership event on the second day and cited numerous illustrations of how the Civil Service “Makes Lives Better.”

Ms McField-Nixon shared one of the most recent examples where Deputy Governor Franz Manderson was commended by the international organisers of KAABOO – who observed that, while they host such events around the world, civil servants at our Customs and Border Control agency stood out for their dedication and professionalism. Organisers said the two-day event would not have been possible without the support of these and other civil servants who went the extra mile.

She also shared an experience from the previous month when she and the Deputy Governor were interviewed on a local radio programme, exclaiming “Not only did the host welcome the update about the progress being made in areas of customer experience and leadership, but she went on to cite her own recent examples of how new e-services in the Department of Vehicle & Driver’s Licensing and the Department of Commerce & Investment had made her life better.”

On the final day, workshop participants were supported and encouraged by Mr Cartwright, Ms Streatfield, Ms Clarke and the team from the Management Support Unit in the Portfolio of the Civil Service. Grouped by department or portfolio, engagement champions delved into their results and considered the impact of actions that had been taken since the year before as well as what could be done this year to celebrate success and seize opportunities to improve.

Following on this series of events, the Ministry of Health, Environment, Culture & Housing plans to engage one-on-one with each team member to receive more insight into how to best address areas which were highlighted as requiring attention. Deputy Chief Officer Nancy Barnard said, “One of our Ministry’s values is ‘open communication, everyone is heard and has a voice‘. Therefore, engagement is central to our ethos.”

“We will ensure we have further development to address issues and then check in points throughout the year to see how the improvements are going,” Ms Barnard added. “It is also important to celebrate what we are doing well.”

Police Inspector Eustace Joseph believes the critical success factor for any organisation is having engaged employees: “There is empirical evidence to prove that when managers listen, show respect and work as a team, the outcome exceeds expectations. What stands out in my mind is a remark made by Ms Nita Clark that ‘the employee should be seen as a human being and not as a human resource.’ This, in my opinion, underpins the importance of employee engagement.”

Ministry of Education Senior Policy Advisor Shari Smith noted, “If employees are engaged, they don’t see what they do just as a job/work, but as a service for their country. My major takeaway was how important it is for senior managers to build those relationships with staff at all levels. Although as a senior manager your time is usually overbooked, finding a way to just make some time to be visible and listen to and engage with staff is important.”