What to look for in an Employee Engagement Platform
There are several reasons an organization would opt to invest time and effort in an employee engagement platform. It can range from improving employee happiness, employee intimacy, to gain valuable insights about the workforce, the sentiment within an organisation, to show appreciation or to share messages.
The end goal often is loyalty and retention of the workforce, because that is becoming a huge challenge for HR managers today. Between the number of reasons there are also numerous applications that can help provide a solution.
What they all do have in common is the goal of strengthening the relationship between employers and employees.
But how to make the best choice?
First question should then be; do you want to collect data to influence your decisions? If the answer is yes you want your platform to collect as much information as possible about your workforce and feed it back to you.
In this case the most important criteria is trustworthiness of the data. Typically there are two ways to gather information from your employees; incentivized and out of sympathy.
- Incentivised data has the benefit that you’ll be able to capture much more input from your workforce while they get something in return for it. This has the major benefit that you can engage much more coworkers. The downside is that the input might be biased and inconclusive.
- When employees collaborate with your tool out of sympathy the return you get from it is much more authentic and can easily be extrapolated to the whole workforce. The responses and engagement come from the heart and are unbiased. However the biggest downside is that if your company has a negative workplace culture or if the gap between the management and the employees is already too wide, the return can be slim.
If you plan to work with an AI engine to support your business understanding the data, and to give you valuable feedback, you’d rather opt for authentic data.
Next there are four focus domains when it comes to employee engagement; internal communication, workplace culture, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and employee advocacy. Some providers offer only one of them, some will offer more.
Today's workforce can be quite dispersed, as COVID-19 has opened the doors to more remote working opportunities. This has a huge impact on employee intimacy and brings along new challenges, among which internal communication.
The company intranet is something that never really took off, while it doesn’t serve all layers of many organisations (like blue collars) and it no longer fits the lifestyle of many younger employees. They were raised with social media, and quick and short interactions. This is why you see an increase in the use of tools like Slack and even WhatsApp as in an inter-company communication tool.
Having said that, it’s often a combination of company policy and security measures that forces HR departments to juggle with tools that fit the mobile workforce and the IT security barriers. Some of the employee engagement tools solve that issue by either integrating with existing tools or by creating an environment that is easily accepted by both employees and management.
The next big buzzword on employee engagement is workplace culture. Never have there been this many burnouts and depressed employees. Choosing between a successful career and a rewarding private social life is no longer a choice for either, it’s becoming a choice for both. Work-life balance is a struggle on its own and only a sustainable company is able to help their employees overcome this struggle.
This is why HR departments search for tools that help them give valuable insights on the state-of-mind of the workforce, so that they can detect potential threats. It’s a combination of training managers to identify issues in time and a tool that measures below the surface, which can lead to success.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
CSR sometimes has the negative connotation as being a way to greenwash an organization. However, acting responsibly towards the environment and social welfare is key for companies that want to reach a high employee engagement.
These programs lead to employees not only feeling supported in their own wellbeing but it extends the likeability of the organization. It creates a feeling of pride amongst the workforce.
Pride is the keyword when it comes to employee advocacy. Because being proud to work for a company is the first step towards carrying out this feeling. In essence employee advocacy is the ultimate proof of a healthy company and the final outcome of all the efforts to engage the employees.
Some employee engagement tools offer this final step in the funnel, gathering and preparing the stories one wants to share. Supporting employees with appealing visuals and the correct storytelling to spread the message even further support the feeling of being proud of their employer's brand.
This worth-of-mouth is the ultimate employer branding and marketing tool.
But we should take a step back and ask ourselves, What is Employee Engagement?