Manaakitanga Putaiao – Increasing staff engagement through collaboration and a culture of care

Linda Thompson | Director of Faculty Operations, Faculty of Science | University of Auckland, New Zealand

Glenda Haines | Student Academic Services and Engagement Manager, Faculty of Science | University of Auckland, New Zealand

Last year some of our staff organised an activity that involved going to Escape Rooms with teams of 5 – 6 people in a themed room having to figure out cryptic clues to solve puzzles and ‘escape’. What stood out most for me was all of the laughing and talking going on and the energy levels as teams worked out how to collectively solve the puzzles. These were staff who don’t generally work together and don’t know each other particularly well, yet they were able to quickly work out each other’s strengths and accommodate different styles for communicating ideas and problem solving to get the job done. This relatively simple activity was a great demonstration of the principles we’re trying to embed through our wellbeing programme and which we’ll be talking about in our workshop.

Our distributed leadership approach supports the principle of Tu Ake (standing tall) encouraging the organisers, who were mid-level staff, to step up and take charge of a faculty-wide event to enhance engagement across diverse units. Through participating, staff built better relationships and connections – the principle of Whanaungatanga and developed a greater respect and understanding of each other’s strengths and contributions, demonstrating the principle of Manaakitanga. We’re hoping that by sharing our insights and learning about what works for us, participants will be motivated to consider what approaches might support a wellbeing ethos at their institutions. We’ll challenge you to take the plunge; when staff at all levels drive the wellbeing agenda the diversity of expressions, viewpoints and values opens up endless possibilities for improving everyone’s experience of the workplace.

110: Manaakitanga Pūtaiao – Increasing staff engagement through collaboration and a culture of care  is a working session at the AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2020. In these mini blogs, our session speakers talk about the journey that lead to this point. Read the full Conference programme here.

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