What’s So Funny About Employee Engagement?

Plenty, if you’re cynical about it. And such cynicism is not surprising given how many employees endure lame attempts to improve engagement. For example:

  • Providing a special lunch for employees as a token employee appreciation event.
  • Conducting periodic employee engagement or satisfaction surveys with little or no follow-up.
  • Creating an HR or cross-company employee committee to provide recommendations to improve engagement with limited authority or budget to make anything meaningful happen.

E. L. Kersten, founder of Despair, Inc. has built a successful business based on ineffective efforts to better motivate and engage employees. A sample of his anti-motivational messages from his DEMOTIVATOR® products include:

  • “Worth: Just because you’re necessary doesn’t mean you’re important.”
  • “Get to Work: You aren’t being paid to believe in the power of  your dreams.”
  • “Motivation: If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job. The kind robots will be doing soon.”
  • Demotivation: Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire all of the unhappy people.

I admit I enjoy the humor in Kersten’s satire. I also recognize that Despair, Inc. wouldn’t be successful if it didn’t resonate with people.

Yes, it’s easy to make fun of employee engagement based on how companies approach it. It’s also a critical reminder that effective employee engagement is a serious business.

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