Budgeting for Employee Brand Engagement

Posted by Allan Steinmetz on 13 September 2017

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Unless your brand engagement program has a significant budget, it will never make the impact necessary to change your employees’ behavior. Money talks. It is no different for advertising and marketing. So where should the employee branding/engagement budget come from? 

Typically, money for employee value propositions comes from HR or Diversity and Inclusion departments, while brand engagement/alignment activities come from Marketing and/or Brand departments. Change management initiatives such as software implementation usually come from the sponsoring organization such as IT or Finance. Most often internal branding, employee communications and employee engagement fall under the domain of both HR and marketing as a shared effort.

The next question is, how much money should be set aside for an effective employee internal brand engagement program? All too often employee brand engagement is an afterthought rather than a strategic initiative like an external advertising program. Employee engagement budgets are often built into the operating budget rather than into a marketing budget which is a big mistake. When this occurs, it is necessary to find funding sources each time a program is launched. We have an iconic brand client who would like to do a customer service; internal communications program with their employees, however, a budget has never been identified or allocated for this initiative. Thus, the client is finding that no one is prepared to step up and relinquish a portion of his or her operating budget to fund the program. The client has said to me, “it’s like walking around here with a tin cup asking for donations”. If this client would have treated internal branding and employee engagement like any other business process, this would have not happened.

Internal employee brand engagement programs should be budgeted annually either as a percentage of sales, a percent of the overall marketing budget or by allocation by headcount. For instance, if the average revenue is $100 million an allocation of 1% would be $1 million set aside for employee brand engagement. Obviously, the percentages and the revenue are all variable.

Another easy way to allocate a budget is simply to identify a flat rate allocation for every employee. So, if you allocate a minimum of five dollars for every employee and if you have 250,000 employees, that would translate to $1,250,000 allocated for employee brand engagement.

No matter how you arrive at your budget allocation, there should be sufficient money to allocate a third for planning, a third for implementation/execution and a third for maintaining and sustaining the program over time.

Are you challenged to identify a budget for your employee engagement initiative? Feel free to contact me for more strategies on building and safeguarding your program budget.