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Employee Engagement is About Meaning – Not Marketing



paul hebert[Employee Engagement is About Meaning – Not Marketing – from Paul Hebert-Vice President Solution Design. Read more about him on our Leadership page.]

Over the past few years I’ve seen more than a few posts about how communicating with employees and building connections with employees should follow the process marketing uses to connect with customers.   I’ve even heard it referred to as “internal marketing.”

I like the overall concept of applying more outbound efforts to bring the “company brand” and all that entails to the employee like we see in the marketing realm.  HR and the company should provide employees with email updates, videos, and “drip” campaigns that continually bring new information about what the company offers and the benefits employees can take advantage of.  That is just good business.

I know from personal experience that that many employees forget over time what the company really does provide as a total package.  In my past a few of my fellow employees either didn’t know about the company providing financial aid for education or didn’t really see it as a benefit – just something “everyone does.”  In that case a well thought out “marketing campaign” would probably have helped those employees clearly see the full scope of benefits provided by their employer and maybe have made them think a bit kinder about them.

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to this whole idea of “internal marketing.”

Marketing Spin

Marketers like sales people have been painted with the same brush – one of disingenuousness, duplicity, false claims and unethical behavior.  Some even place marketers below sales people because they say that at least sales people lie to your face but marketers hide behind ads, campaigns, slogans and events.  And in some instances this is true.

Many brands use marketing as a weapon to shape and create false images and brand promises.  It does happen.

And the same can be said for HR departments as well.

Below is a cartoon from the “marketoonist” Tom Fishburne on “purpose driven branding”


Granted – this is aimed directly at brands and consumers but it doesn’t take much to see how this applies in the “employee marketing” space.

Many, many companies have a huge disconnect between what their brochures say, their websites pronounce and what their Executives say on CNN Business.

Your employee connect with your “employer brand” when you are sincere and you provide meaning for them.  When you provide meaning you are not longer marketing – you are simply revealing who you are.

Great engagement programs don’t create the employer brand or create culture – they reveal it. (tweet that.)

Are you hiding behind a “purpose-driven” engagement program?  Or are you really creating meaning and being driven by a purpose that attracts engagement?

One lasts forever – the other, maybe a fortnight.


4 Responses to “Employee Engagement is About Meaning – Not Marketing”

  1. Symbolist says:

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