Best Employee Engagement Software - August 2019

Best Employee Engagement Software, ROI calculator, questions to ask on demos, and more


Are you looking to get a more holistic view of the culture at your company? Would you like to increase employee retention and engagement? Buying an employee engagement / performance management software solution may be the solution.

Our goal with this guide is to save your first 5-10 hours of research into this category. At the end, you’ll be able to articulate the ROI from performance management software, know who the best vendors in the space are, common pitfalls other companies have stumbled into, and more.

We spend hundreds of hours researching the best B2B software so you don’t have to. We never take money from vendors during our research phase and rely heavily on practitioners and experts to help us recommend the right software. More than 90% of the vendors featured on our site have no commercial relationship with us. Read more

In this guide you’ll find: Listing of top employee voice vendors, ROI calculator, vendor organizer, and more!

Top Employee Engagement and Performance Management Tools

We track thousands of HRTech solutions, these are the best Employee Engagement tools and services per our research and expert council as of August 2019

Reflektive’s software covers the gambit of performance management to employee engagement. This means their product allows you to measure and track OKRs, 1:1’s, real time employee engagement, etc all from one platform. Reflektive has raised over $100 million, and boasts customers like Comcast and Dollar Shave Club.

This solution allows People Analytics and HR teams to have a deeper understanding of what is happening in their organization, in order to make smarter people decisions. It’s no wonder the executive teams at over 500 companies have pushed to adopt Reflektive.

Peakon is a data driven solution focused on allowing organizations to make better people decisions. Their people analytics software includes real time management training modules that are suggested based on employee data. While based in Denmark, their largest market is the US and their customers include Capgemini and Verizon. Peakon powered data is being used in their customers’ annual reports alongside more traditional financial metrics.

7Geese is an employee first performance management system which has focused on the under-resourced HR teams of small to mid sized companies. They are very focused on tracking OKRs and allowing employees to see how their actions are contributing to the overall performance of the organization. 7Geese has a dedicated team of talent advisors who can help you get started, all of whom have backgrounds in both HR and change management.

Glint is now part of LinkedIn/Microsoft and definitely one of the pioneers in this space. They are worth taking a look at, although it’s unclear how their solution will evolve post-acquisition, and how their pricing fits into the rest of your overall contract if you are an existing LinkedIn customer.

CultureIQ is an employee engagement platform that ties employee listening to culture, and culture to business strategy. Their offering is part SaaS, part high touch consultants that will help you plan and execute your program. This is helpful especially for their core target of large enterprise customers that include Sanofi, AirCanada, AXA, and many more.

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Waggl is an employee voice platform that started with the unique insight that organizations can get more insights from employees by asking less, more often (relative to arduous annual surveys).  Waggl is a great way to understand what aspects of your culture need help.  Their product can help small teams all the way up through customers like 3M, Boeing and Microsoft.

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Tinypulse’s employee engagement software allows managers to have a holistic understanding of their organization to cut down on unexpected employee departures, build the right culture, and increase performance. Their solution is used by Microsoft, the Red Sox, Nike and many more.

15Five has been around since 2011, and has over 2,000 customers that rely on their performance management suite to figure out what drives their employees, and how to incorporate this knowledge into feedback/coaching.  The product is easy enough to setup where they didn’t even have a sales team the first 6 years of the business.

What is Employee Engagement Software?

First off, we are going to use employee engagement and performance management synonymously in this guide. However, be on the lookout as we will most likely break these out into two separate categories in the future. If you want to get specific:

  • Employee engagement software allows companies to continuously collect data on the health of their culture via employee surveys that focus on feedback to individuals and the organization.

  • Performance management software allows companies to track the goals of an individual, group, division, and company. These companies almost exclusively track what are called “OKRs” which stands for objective and key results. Basically, an individual or team has an objective (like increasing retention), and key results (like implementing an employee engagement system, getting NPS above a certain point, etc).

Employee engagement software has taken off in the recent past for a few reasons. First, we live in a world of 4% unemployment where the costs of attrition are very high. Companies need to increase retention in order to thrive. Second, aspects of corporate life such as culture and purpose have become more important with the rise of the millennial and gen z generations. Lastly, People Analytics is becoming a more important discipline as nearly every decision in the modern business is data driven.

Employee engagement software allows companies to keep their hand on the pulse of their organization to see what managers need more training, which teams have higher flight risk, and how key objectives are being met within the organization. Most of these solutions allow HR and People Analytics leaders to zoom in or out of their organization and put data around what is happening with their culture.

Questions to Ask on Demos

When you get on a demo with one of these vendors, you’re going to want to understand a few key concepts regardless of your industry or specific use case.

  • What is the core philosophy behind your product? Some vendors are focused on employee health, others on company health. Some started by operationalizing OKR tracking, others employee recognition. Find the vendor that best aligns philosophically with your organization, you’ll find their product is the manifestation of their beliefs in what the most important aspects of culture are.

  • While there is feature parity across many of these vendors, you should definitely be keeping a list of key features that you want and when they will become available for vendors who have them on their roadmap. We have an organizer spreadsheet here that you can use to keep notes across your various demos (it also has lists of sample features you will want to take a look at).

  • People matter, and we really encourage you to touch base with whomever will be your customer service rep as that will be a key part of using any performance management system. In this category more than others, we found HR people again and again talking about how their sales rep / customer success manager made or broke their experience.

Our Best Pro Tip: Cross-Functional Buying Committees

We wrote a bit about cross functional buying committees. They really are really important in our opinion when buying this type of software.

A cross functional buying committee is a group of 5-10 people who care about a given topic, in this case culture/retention. They brainstorm, and then figure out the best way to tackle the issue is to execute some sort of initiative, in this case buy performance management software. Realistically, there are 1-2 leaders in the group who do all the work of executing the initiative.

But, there are some huge benefits to having this committee. First off, getting budget for your initiative is so much easier. You now have leaders from marketing, sales, engineering, etc on your side when you go to the CFO to get money. They can help you pitch, and throw their weight behind the initiative.

You also have the help of every organization during implementation. This is especially useful when rolling out a tool like performance management where individuals need to be bought into the initiative across all different functions. Having the person from your engineering team who’s on the committee tell their team why they need to use a solution can resonate a lot more than someone from outside of the organization doing the same.

The Business Case Behind Performance Management Software

Employee engagement software allows companies to have a better understanding of the health of their organization. These solutions given People and HR teams more insights into what is working, and what needs to be fixed.

As a result, employers can reap benefits by increasing the productivity of their workforce, and by losses caused by employee attrition.

Download ROI Calculator

We’ve designed this calculator to help you think through the basic ROI from performance management software. We highly suggest your use the video to the right in order to best understand how to use this spreadsheet!

Most Common Pitfalls of Employee Engagement Software

The companies who are the most successful with an employee engagement platform have been thinking about culture for a while. They probably have instituted some sort of OKR system. Many of their managers already do 1:1’s with colleagues. They are focused generally on a high performance culture to drive their business forward.

So, it’s probably not a huge surprise that the companies who struggle when implementing employee driven software are those who are way behind the curve when it comes to culture, people analytics, and performance management. If it’s going to be a massive behavior change to start tracking OKRs, give employee recognition, get employee feedback, etc, then you may want to re-think buying one of these platforms and instead start with small steps to move your company culture efforts in the right direction. Of course, the right solution can also help you kickstart your efforts.

The other big pitfall that HR/People teams fall into when getting these solutions setup is in the implementation. Like many HR tools, employee engagement systems can take time to integrate with the rest of your HRTech stack. Beyond that, it’s important to develop a strategy for rolling this out in a way that employees and managers see this as a value add, not just another chore.

Pro Tip: When you get started with one of these solutions, pick one or two modules that are the most interesting to you as a starting point. People analytics teams shouldn’t get overwhelmed by the myriad modules in these tools, and they shouldn’t give their employees a chance to either. You can get a lot of value out of something as simple as employee recognition - and allow the rest of the modules to slowly become a part of your people processes.

Reference Materials From This Guide

Other Reference Materials:

The Top Employee Engagement Solutions:

Are we missing something on this page? Let us know and we’ll research it for you! Better yet, join our expert council and lend your expertise!