Best Employee Engagement Software - November 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 tool 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 employee engagement software, know the best employee engagement software vendors, 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

Top Employee Engagement Tools

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

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Kazoo’s employee engagement solution is coupled with rewards and performance management all in one platform. This three pronged approach allows People teams to use one vendor that seamlessly shares data across all three modules. It’s not wonder they have over 600 customers, which include Patagonia, Kaiser Permanente and Allianz. Also worth noting is they have a customer retention rate over 90%.

What is Employee Engagement Software?

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. This is a bit different from performance management software which allows companies to track the goals of an individual, group, division, and company.

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 employee 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.

Here are some other benefits of an employee engagement program:

  • Employee Experience: An employee engagement app allows your human resources team to engage employees by understanding what they care about, and then incorporating that feedback directly into the culture of the company. Employees are heard, and their key concerns are addressed which leads to less employee turnover, and higher productivity.

  • Real Time Feedback: Unlike an annual employee engagement survey, most employee engagement platforms now gather continuous data on what’s going on in the company. Many times the mechanism for collecting this information is through pulse surveys that ask only 1-2 questions and therefore have very high response rates. They also offer real time feedback on issues that are important to the company, or a given team/office.

  • Strategy: Most employee engagement programs now have a playbook built in that offers a de-factor employee engagement strategy for HR teams who aren’t large enough to figure out exactly what they want to accomplish. This comes in the form of best practices around how often and how much to ask, what questions to ask what teams, and even professional services to help you figure out how to interpret the data you collect.

  • Talent Management: An employee engagement platform means you have a more holistic view of what’s going on with your company across the entire employee lifecycle. The People Operations team and functional leaders now have a new weapon to understand and diagnose cultural issues before they spread to the rest of the company.

  • Employee Performance: In addition to engagement, many of the best employee engagement solutions will offer a performance aspect that can be used in evaluating how employees efforts are contributing to the larger efforts of the organization, and how they stack up relative to their peers. Sometimes the data collected is anonymous and used mostly to evaluate teams or offices. Other times its tied to an individual and can be used for performance reviews.

  • Actionable Insights: One problem with annual employee engagement surveys is that it can take a long time for the data to be collected/analyzed, and a lot of what is uncovered relates very generally to the employee experience, but lacks clearly actionable next steps. The best employee engagement tools will allow your human resources team to collect actionable and real time data.

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.

  • AI is now a part of these software platforms through sentiment analysis which can give high level overviews into how a given team/office/function/etc is feeling - and what the key weaknesses are in a given sub-culture. Understand how AI is part of the solution you’re looking at, or how the team is thinking about using AI to improve their product over time.

  • Definitely ask for the best practices for internal communications around rolling our a new employee engagement program. You don’t want to start sending employee engagement surveys without the proper warning. A pro tip here is to definitely communicate the “why” behind this new program to employees - and especially play up how this will increase the employee experience.

  • Understand how the HR team is able to see employee feedback. Is it mobile friendly, are reports sent automatically to the team, how long after a survey is sent out are you able to see information. This last point is especially important for solutions that aggregate all information anonymously as they typically will not allow leaders to see results until a certain number of employees have given feedback.

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 employee engagement software. Then, there are usually 1-2 leaders in the group who do all the work of executing the initiative. They usually have KPIs related to the results of the initiative - and of course in this case will be the people who are in charge of talent management.

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 employee engagement 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 Employee Engagement 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 using of one of the best employee engagement solutions. 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 workplace culture. 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.

Disengaged employees are not going to turn into superstars overnight. But, by taking in employee feedback, using those insights to change the culture, and starting to build an overall engagement strategy, HR teams can increase employee moral while decreasing turnover. It can be a long process, but one worth starting today.

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.

Final Advice on Employee Engagement Software

The best employee engagement software is a game changer for organizations looking to supercharge their workplace experience, and decrease employee turnover. There are no silver bullets when it comes to disengaged employees or having perfect insights into what’s going on with your business. However, this is a great place to start.

If your company needs a better way to start gathering employee feedback, or is simply looking for ways to improve culture, then our suggestion is to start by getting demos with 2-3 of the top employee engagement software companies in order to figure out the details around how this would work within your organization. Good luck!

Reference Materials From This Guide

Other Reference Materials:

The Top Employee Engagement Solutions:

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