It’s not even one o’clock in the morning on Christmas Day – which means, Santa’s officially still riding his sleigh – and the mega American corporation that specialises in employee engagement is sending me another blind direct mailer on “making onboarding your strategic advantage – free 30 day trial”.

Clearly, this is an organisation that doesn’t really get customer engagement, because everything is automated.

It doesn’t get that you don’t send new business mailers on Christmas Day. It is just not appropriate.

It also doesn’t get that my business is a small consultancy run on networked principles and that I have no need for onboarding software at all. Least of all on a major holiday.

Clearly, somebody in the great, oiled machine had programmed this mailer to go out once a week for six or seven weeks. And in ticking off days this person had failed to notice that one of the days was – well, shall we just say a holiday that is celebrated in some earnest, if only as a chance to escape work by around half of the globe.

So what I’m wondering is, can an organisation that clearly doesn’t get customer engagement really have something valuable to add about employee engagement?

You see, if automation and technology can make a mockery of customer engagement, surely it will do the same for employee engagement?

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a role for technology in supporting the work, thinking, dedication and passion of people around the business in getting to know employees and devising ever better ways of responding to their needs.

But it is only a supporting role. The key requirements for any sort of engagement – an honest, open relationship where you get underneath the skin of what makes a person tick so that you can help to make them more successful, more fulfilled, and as a result, make a business more successful too – is about people, not machines.

I’m sure this mega-American corporation sells tons of software to people who want to be able to measure and demonstrate their commitment to employee engagement by the amount of money that they’re prepared to spend on it.

But rather like Christmas presents, engagement isn’t really about money. Its about relationships. It’s about an investment of time and personality. It’s about showing you care, what you’re prepared to give as well as what you expect.

There’s not a piece of software in the world that can deliver that.