When Employee Engagement is a Joke

For some time now, I’ve enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek philosophy of E. L. Kersten, author of The Art of Demotivation and provider of anti-motivational posters & products on his site: www.despair.com. Here are a few choice quotes:

  • Apathy: If we don’t take care of the customer, maybe they’ll stop bugging us.”
  • “Get to Work: You aren’t being paid to believe in the power of  your dreams.”
  • “Worth: Just because you’re necessary doesn’t mean you’re important.”

(Enjoy checking out the complete list of demotivational quotes.)

But I’ve also had mixed feelings.  We all need to lighten up (like Sergeant Hulka, I have a “hell of a sense of humor”), yet I wonder if displaying these cynical, anti-Successories-type items might send the wrong message or be misinterpreted.

The sad truth is Kersten’s Despair, Inc. business wouldn’t be successful if it didn’t resonate with people.  There are too many organizations out there whose only effort to engage employees is to display motivational posters and/or initiate token recognition programs.  Kersten’s satire is an effective way to deal with these shallow efforts.

And for those of us who are passionate about employee engagement, it’s also an opportunity to poke fun at ourselves … while reminding us of the importance of our work.

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