Blog | Hugh Kennedy 04.23.18

5 Questions Every Technology Marketer Should Ask About Employee Engagement

A long-time technology executive recently told me about acquiring a hot new startup in the Internet of Things space. “They were owned by venture capital and had equity in the business, then they got rolled into our huge company and we’ve had nothing but problems trying to keep them,” he said.

Sound familiar?

No matter what sort of technology you produce today, finding, landing and retaining talented employees is a daily migraine for the tech industry. This is not just an HR challenge. The  onus is on Communications, Marketing and People departments to connect employees to culture, respect their diversity, and integrate them fully after a merger or a single hire.

But have you stopped and considered what’s really in it for your employees beyond a laptop, a height-adjustable standing desk, a 401 (k) match and what workplace author Elizabeth White calls “that regular bread?”

Based on our experience developing employee engagement programs that have gone viral around the world for large tech leaders and inspired a visible sense of ownership and pride among startups, here are five questions you should ask when developing yours.

1. Does your program pass the tech skepticism test?

Global surveys have shown that among technology buyers around the world, American buyers are the most cynical. They look for ways to see through claims and question everything. The same is doubly true for engagement programs created by their own companies. If anything looks corny or clichéd, it’ll be DOA. So gather a few people and test your ideas before making meaningful investments.

2. Is your position too missionary?

There’s a big difference between working for a healthcare company whose products are giving people a new lease on life, literally, and one that builds ecommerce tax calculators. In other words, don’t waste a lot of time touting the mission of your company as part of your engagement program because it isn’t top of mind for most tech employees anyway. Focus on the vision of the next few years and what role everyone can play in the next iteration of the technology. Everyone at your company should know what it means to be an important part of an innovator culture.

3. Did you remember the wow factor?

As many CMOs have said in the past, customers don’t come to work and log onto a different internet than the one they were using at home. An email with an embedded gif is not going to cut it. If you’re in a technology company and want to excite and retain people, reflect a spirit of true innovation in your engagement program. That means elements like touchscreen interactive components and virtual and augmented reality.

4. Is your program allowed to WFH?

Partial or total working from home is just a part of tech life in 2018, not to mention working from the road, from the conference, or from a client’s location. Can your program nod to this reality and still allow employees to feel like part of a culture that’s attractive and magnetic enough to keep them on as stewards of it?

5. Does your program have the attention span of a goldfish?

Because it should. Let’s face it: tech employees today just have shorter attention spans. So employee engagement campaigns that launch as big one-and-done affairs feel about as gripping as most corporate art. In technology companies, your program has to constantly evolve and feel like a consistent drumbeat. That doesn’t mean it has to break the bank, just that it has to create anticipation as much as it does inform.

Stepping back, whether you’re about to craft an engagement program or have just set one into motion, the ultimate question is simple: There are probably ten voracious competitors that can afford to hire away my best talent: will this program help them see our brand and company as an awesome place worth staying at for at least the next year?

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