Employment, Engagement, and Empowerment: The Way of Enough

When I entered seminary back in 2009, it was because, after working on a very disappointing Diversity Recruiting project with a certain company, I became convinced that a seminary degree would be just what I needed to “evangelize” the good news of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in organizations. After all, at their best, I believe ministers are called to be Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion professionals in the deepest sense. Additionally, I told myself that there was no way that a company would put in as much money as this organization had in this diversity hiring project only to consciously and intentionally sabotage their own efforts by continuing the same practices that bottlenecked their pipeline of qualified diverse talent in the first place. It turned out I was wrong. Companies do this all of the time.

Besides self-sabotaging their projects, I also observed how disengaged many employees were both within that organization and many of the other companies that I recruited for as well as many of the candidates that I was trying to recruit. For better or worse, I am a deep thinker on most things and when I see a problem, I cannot help but do root cause analysis. I’m not the type of person who is comfortable painting over rust. So as I examined what the issues that held back this organization’s DEI initiatives were as well as the issue of employee and candidate engagement, I saw that it was the same thing–a lack of a sense of empowerment.

There is a direct correlation between employee empowerment and employee engagement.

Many employers don’t seem to get this. But, there is a direct correlation between employee empowerment and employee engagement. And when that relationship goes unrecognized, everyone loses out.

According to a Gallup Workplace article, What Is Employee Engagement and How Do You Improve It?, “only 15% of employees worldwide and 35% in the U.S. fall in the ‘engaged’ category”–with employee engagement being defined as “employees who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” Now if 85% of the world’s employees are disengaged from an activity that they participate in more than almost any other in their lives besides sleeping (according to a study done by Our World in Data), what does that say about the levels of consciousness of the organizations and societies in which they actively or possibly inactively participate?

Furthermore, consider that if we spend a third of our time on this planet asleep and 85% of another third disengaged from our work, then what do we do with the rest of our time from a consciousness perspective? Perhaps, distract ourselves from or justify the fact that we spend the majority of our lives disengaged? Well, chances are that this is the case for many of us.

Statistics presented on a December 26, 2020 article on the Study Finds website, state that the average person will spend 44 YEARS!!! of their liveslooking at screens. Now how much of that do you think is used on social media and other distractions? Well, here’s another article from Comparitech.com to give you a little insight.

The average American spends over 7 hours looking at a screen each day.

Now of course, in an increasingly technocentric world, screens will be a part of many of our lives going forward. This cannot be disputed. I’m writing this article on a screen. But, how much of that time is empowering and therefore engaging? And how can that engagement be leveraged to maximize the employment experience so that all of the stakeholders feel like they are getting enough out of the relationship?

The image below offers an insight into the relationship between the 4Es of mutually beneficial relating. Regardless of whether the relationship focuses on work, community service, or other interpersonal relationships–as with one’s partner, other family members, or friends–the dynamic still works. One of the most important insights I’ve discovered in my work in the military, intelligence, corporate, and non-profit sectors is that “enoughness” resides at the intersection between empowerment, engagement, and employment (activity). And in the grand scheme of things, “enoughness” is what most people are looking for even though there is no culturally agreed upon way to articulate this in the western world. “Enoughness” is what makes relationships stick and the hope of future “enoughness” is what inspires us to stick around through the inevitable shifts that happen as relationships evolve.

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“Enoughness” resides at the intersection between empowerment, engagement, and employment (activity).

In the work I will be doing with people going forward, I will employ this methodology that I have learned to embody in serving the 85% of the world’s population that is disengaged from their work. I realize that there is no such thing as “work life balance”. It’s a carrot on a stick. But inwardly aiming for lifework harmony is a healthy pursuit. We are not the work we do. But when we can bring all of who we are to the work we do, thriving is the natural result. This is the power of “enoughness”. And this is the offering I bring to every relationship I am in. So how can I be of service?

Added note: If you do not connect with the concept of “enoughness” and its relationship to empowerment, engagement, and employment (activity), I invite you to look at its more familiar shadow side “not-enoughness”. A good article for some people is 5 Ways to Overcome Not-Enoughness by Jill Dreisilker.

I am currently open to new opportunities in the area of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in corporate and non-profit settings and will select an organization to partner with in mid January 2022. If you are interested in connecting on this subject, please feel free to connect with me on Linkedin or Twitter.

1 reply »

  1. For those looking for a little more of an explanation, my theory, that I’ve tested in a variety of settings is that if empowerment increases to the point of “enoughness” engagement will rise up to meet it. That will be expressed in a deeper relationship to employment (activity). Where they meet, the person will experience “enoughness”. And the system will remain sustainable up to the point where the person begins seeking a higher level of expression.

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