Employee Engagement Has Nothing To Do With Branded T-Shirts

I receive ALOT of PR pitches and for the most part I welcome them. Some contain great information. They share a recent report or an infographic that I usually will read but do not often post here on Blogging4Jobs. Blogging4Jobs recently covered 2015 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and the workplace and HR tech trends that we saw at the CES show. The amount of bad CES PR pitches we received leading up to and during the event was astounding. Not every member of the press at CES cares about gambling, drone or television technology. Personally, I was desperate for someone to send me a release on tech focused office furniture. I really want to try a treadmill desk. Somebody, please pitch me!

Employee Engagement Has Nothing To Do With Branded T-Shirts


I think I get spoiled during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holiday season. Things are relatively quiet on the PR front for nearly two months. I don’t get pitched unless someone I know picks up the phone. The new year hits and every single person in the PR world has updated their email pitch automation rolodex. And I’m getting bad email pitches like crazy. Here’s my response to a recent PR pitch we received telling me that company branded t-shirts and promotional items improve employee happiness and engagement.

Dear Mr. or Mrs. Public Relations Person,

Your recent email pitch to me to my blog, Blogging4Jobs has absolutely no merit. I do not believe that employee engagement and workplace productivity has anything to do with the right employee branded swag or corporate outerwear. Please, for the love of all things that are PR, do not suggest to me or anyone in a business or leadership role that a stupid corporate branded hoodie or pen set is going to keep me from leaving your company.

Receiving a branded hoodie or jacket when I’ve been passed over for a promotion or only received a 2% increase will just make me angry. It will make me resentful. It make me think that you can afford more and that I deserve more than a $25.00 pencil set. Your pitch leads leaders to believe that a company t-shirt is more important than an extra vacation day with a my family, a thank you from my boss or a .5% raise.

It’s downright disgusting when I get PR pitches like this, but I guess this PR company probably pays its employee not in cold hard cash or even Bitcoins. They pay them in soft cotton American Apparel with embroidered logos at least that is what they want me, the press to believe.

I call it swag and it’s not a motivator for your employees. Unless it’s a leather liquor flask to go with the bottle of 50 year old whiskey you stock the employee break room, I don’t want your branded swag. It doesn’t make me work harder, work happier or give you a better online review at Glassdoor. If you believe that you are a bigger fool than me.

Define Employee Engagement

I define employee engagement as a relationship. It’s a combination of give and take. Employees who feel valued, respected and part of a team will work harder and do more because they are happy. The team leader or front line manager has the most direct impact on the productivity or engagement level of an individual employee because they are part of their individual ecosystem and to suggest otherwise, is crazy!

Engagement is fluid. It ebbs and flows. The pattern of engagement is a lot like happiness. They are correlated to an event, a relationship and most often a person and not necessarily a physical item or thing. If 37% of employees are leaving for new jobs in 2015, you can be damn sure that a company golf umbrella or anniversary stress ball is not going to keep that employee happy. They want respect. They want to be challenged. They want to be compensated fairly and given an opportunity to contribute positively and be rewarded in ways outside of said branded swag to stay and remain at your company.

Yours Truly,


HR Blogger and Disengaged PR Pitch Reader

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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