Employee engagement is a somewhat elusive metric that nearly all organizations care about and many prioritize when it comes to allocating budget and resources. Despite all that attention, far too few employees are engaged.
Gallup — who has been collecting data and insights on employee engagement for more than 20 years — reports that in 2000 the percentage of workers who were engaged was at 26% and increased at a relatively steady rate through 2020 when it reached 38%, the highest it’s ever been.
Still, when only a little over a third of the workforce is actively engaged in their jobs, it’s obvious there is much work to do.
The challenge for most organizations, however, is coming up with a systematic, consistent process for identifying and following through with the kind of actions that increase employee engagement. That is where employee engagement software can be foundational to executing engagement strategies.
In this guide, we’ll provide you with insights on the value of employee engagement solutions and offer best practices for choosing the right tool for your organization.
What Is Employee Engagement Software?
Employee engagement software — also referred to as workforce engagement software — is technology designed specifically to help businesses both measure and hopefully improve engagement.
The solution will allow you to collect and analyze feedback from staff, so you can glean real-time insights, and then act on them to make necessary improvements. Employee engagement platforms can be a component of a comprehensive Human Resource Management System (HRIS); as a stand-alone tool; or integrated into a comprehensive performance management solution like Lattice that connects employee engagement, performance management, and employee development
Core Features and Functions of Employee Engagement Software
Employee engagement software should make the task of collecting and acting on employee feedback a simpler, more efficient process and should include features like these:
- Employee engagement surveys. These longer-form surveys enable you to ask dozens of detailed questions around workplace culture and make data-driven decisions to improve the overall health of your organization. Top solutions provide employee engagement survey templates with expert-built questions that are customizable for your organization, which save time and help to ensure your engagement efforts are executed effectively.
- Employer Net Promoter Score (eNPS). The tool enables you to ask all employees a single question and then scores employees’ loyalty and overall satisfaction. At a glance, you can see how many employees are most likely to be advocates and which aren’t, so you can take proactive steps to build loyalty across the organization.
- Pulse surveys. Quick one-to-five-question surveys that enable you to frequently check in between long-form employee engagement surveys to continuously collect feedback on the effectiveness of your culture initiatives.
- Real-time visibility. As you leverage pulse surveys, you’ll want access to a real-time view of employee engagement data and advanced driver and sentiment analysis tools to be able to adjust your decision-making.
- Advanced analytics. You want to be able to immediately identify the questions that have the strongest impact on the metrics you care about most, so you can prioritize actions and plan next steps.
- Integration of employee performance metrics. This feature enables you to understand how to optimize employee experiences to help ensure peak performance.
- Benchmarking capabilities. Improvement requires being able to clearly — and easily — see where you’ve been. Choose a solution that allows you to measure against past survey results and third-party benchmarks to track and analyze your progress.
Benefits of Employee Engagement Software Across the Organization
The goal of any employee engagement platform is to make the actual process of engaging with employees easier. The easier it is, the more consistent it becomes, and that’s when you start to gain insight that can transform your workplace on many levels:
For the Organization
- Reduce turnover. When you act on employee feedback, you create the type of workplace that retains top talent.
- Make smarter, quicker decisions. A centralized employee engagement platform provides high visibility, puts a robust data universe at your fingertips, and improves employee communication so you have the information required to make stronger workforce management decisions.
- Set goals and prioritize projects. With direct, honest feedback from staff, you will know where to focus your efforts to get the biggest bang for your buck.
- Evaluate initiatives. Learn from employees if your efforts to increase employee engagement and other initiatives are working, and stop wasting time and money on ineffective programs and perks.
- Track progress. See in real-time how the organization is performing from a people management perspective.
- Build the right company culture. Understand what it takes to drive employee engagement and improve the employee experience.
- Gain a voice. They can share their concerns and offer real-time feedback to improve the workplace without fear.
- Feel valued and respected. When you act on their feedback, they feel heard and that boosts employee satisfaction and morale, critical components of keeping them on board.
- Stay connected—even if they are remote. Having a way to share potentially culture-changing feedback helps dispersed employees feel like they are very much a part of the team and organization.
- See increased productivity. Team members who feel valued work at a higher level and are more committed to their roles, the team, and the organization. They deliver faster, better results.
- Can identify pain points on the team. With quick employee engagement surveys, managers can uncover blockers in projects, obstacles that are blocking progress and other issues, and find solutions in near real-time.
- Save time. The solutions reduce the time it takes to collect and understand feedback on important issues and streamline their workflow.
- Know what you are doing well—and what you need to change. As a leader, the best thing you can do is collect real-time feedback on your own management style and skills from your team members and make necessary changes.
Free Employee Engagement Resources and Templates
Looking to get a deeper understanding of how to plan out your employee engagement strategy before buying a software solution? These free ebooks, webinars, and templates can help.
- How to Use Real-Time Engagement to Build a Winning Culture
A better way to monitor, assess and improve engagement across your organization.
- How to Turn Engagement Survey Results Into Action
HR's guide to analyzing survey results and implementing change.
- Getting Feedback Culture Right at Your Company
The art of giving and receiving effective feedback, and how you can build a feedback culture at your company.
- Defining Your Culture Through Hard Times
Staying true to “people strategy” basics like continuous feedback, manager check-ins, engagement surveys and engagement action plans.
- Employee Engagement Strategy: Getting to the Roots of Your Employee Experience
How HR and management can develop employee engagement throughout your organization.
- Employee Engagement Survey Template
For HR teams and company leadership, employee engagement might be the ultimate barometer for success.
- HR Effectiveness Survey Template
Consider this your HR performance review. Asking employees for feedback is a great way for your team to learn where things stand, identify gaps, and adapt your HR strategy.
Upgrading From Spreadsheets, Templates, or Google Suite
Can you track all your engagement outreach and employee feedback in a spreadsheet, template, or Google Doc? Sure, but you may make the process much harder on yourself if you do.
For starters, to gain insights you can act on to make positive changes, you need tons of data coming in from all corners of the organization as well as dashboards and reporting to help you interpret your results. Tools like Google Forms and even simple surveys just don’t provide that detail. Managing that level of data in those types of documents is:
- Time-consuming to update, review, and draw important, actionable insights about what to do next.
- Error-prone, and it’s easy for inaccurate data to be entered or correct data to be overwritten or erased.
- Inconsistent, especially if multiple people are inputting and accessing data and storing documents in various locations.
Plus, documents like those make it hard to collaborate or share relevant information with key stakeholders within the organization.
An intuitive employee engagement management solution takes the hassle out of the process. If you are still using these outdated methods, adding employee engagement software as a stand-alone product or as a companion to your HRIS can save you time, prevent mistakes, and empower you to collect data so that you can pull together insights to act on quickly. It enables you to operate more efficiently and increases the overall productivity of HR teams and managers who can focus on more important tasks. Ultimately, the return on investment is often quick.
What Will Employee Engagement Software Cost You?
As with most things in life, it depends. Different solutions offer different pricing options, based on a variety of factors. Some solutions offer basic, free, or trial versions with limited capabilities, for example, and then start charging as you upgrade your service. Additionally, pricing is contingent on whether you add on a workforce engagement solution to an existing HRIS or purchase a new solution altogether.
Prices can range from $1-$15 per person, per month, billed on an annual basis, or some providers establish a flat monthly rate which can reach into the thousands of dollars. For larger organizations, many providers offer custom solutions or suites to fit your specific needs.
Demonstrating the ROI of Employee Engagement Solutions to Senior Leadership
Most solutions are affordable, and the return on investment happens quickly. However, you’ll still need to prove the value to upper management by painting a realistic picture of your organization’s current situation. Start by focusing on three critical issues:
What are your turnover rates? How much is it costing you to recruit, hire, onboard and train new hires? According to Gallup, the cost of replacing one employee can range from one-half to two times the person’s annual salary. And that’s just the quantifiable costs.
If your organization becomes known as a bad place to work because of high turnover, it will be difficult to woo talented, devoted people, which can have a ripple effect on everything from customer service to quality control. Any measures that can help to improve retention are almost always worth the cost. And using employee feedback to create a winning culture is a sure-fire way to improve retention.
If you, your team, or other managers are working with outdated processes to collect staff feedback (i.e., spreadsheets or unwieldy documents), you are likely wasting hours collecting, updating, and analyzing data.
If the senior leadership team wants to see dollars and cents, start by breaking your and others’ salaries down by the hour and calculate how many hours you spend managing the process. You might be surprised. Human resources departments can spend hundreds of dollars per month on inefficient processes.
Then explain what your team could do if you had that time back, specifically using it to put new processes and initiatives in place that improve culture, morale, and retention.
- The Bottom line
Improving the culture drives up morale, employee satisfaction, and loyalty. When engaged employees are happy and committed, they work harder, make higher-quality products, and provide better services. Conversely, they make fewer mistakes and cause fewer problems. All that contributes to a healthy bottom line.
Read this case study to learn how Lattice helped Nous, a consistent “Great Place to Work,” replace their fragmented and outdated feedback system with a centralized, easily navigable system — and increased employee feedback.
Choosing the Best Employee Engagement Software for Your Company
For most organizations, budget is a big deciding factor. However, more important is choosing a solution that people will use and that will drive results. Otherwise, it’s just money wasted. Solutions vary in capabilities, so make sure you understand exactly what you need from your employee engagement software. Then discuss the following with vendors.
- What features does it offer? For example, are questions customizable? Does the solution enable users to respond anonymously? Does it offer the specific types of surveys your organization needs to collect and respond to feedback? And finally, does it have all the features you are looking for?
- What does your solution offer that competitors don’t? You have many options, so ask the vendor to spell out for you what makes their solution different from competitors.
- Is the product user-friendly? If it’s not, people aren’t going to use it. Make sure it has simple functionality and is easy to set up, learn, and use, for both the user (i.e., the HR manager) and employees. It shouldn’t take more than a few clicks to send a survey and begin collecting data.
- What training, technical support, and other resources are available to help us make the most of the software? To deploy the software, users will need a crash course in how to use it, but they’ll also need troubleshooting assistance going forward. Talk to vendors about the support they offer before and after launch (i.e., the hours they are available and whether additional fees will be charged).
- What is involved with deploying the software? From a sheer logistical standpoint, you’ll want to understand how long it will take to get your new engagement software set up and what the vendor will need from you, in terms of resources and manpower, to get you up and running.
- Is it compatible with your current infrastructure? If employee engagement software doesn’t easily integrate with your current communication, login, and HRIS systems, it could create challenges for reporting and analysis. Confirm that any product you use can fully integrate into your current systems.
The Best Employee Engagement Software Companies in 2021
Not sure where to start your research? Here are several leading workforce engagement solution options.
Please note: All ratings are based on the G2 Grid Report for Employee Engagement Satisfaction score.
Stand-alone employee engagement solutions:
Pricing: Starts at $9.00 per user, per month.
More than 2000 organizations, including Turo and Legal Zoom, use this people and performance management platform to develop engaged, high-performing teams with easy-to-launch employee engagement surveys, pulse surveys, eNPS scores, and a powerful analytics layer that makes it easy for teams to act on insights. Deep customization makes Lattice adaptable to your company culture, scaling with you as your company grows.
- Centralized platform that is easy to use and incorporate performance data
- Transparent pricing structure
- Solid implementation and onboarding
- Can be challenging to use without proper training
- Lacks some needed integrations
Pricing: Starts at $7 per person, per month. Billed annually.
15Five offers a range of tools that help managers capture feedback from employees, including tailored engagement surveys.
- Easy to use and highly customizable
- Integrates with Slack, Salesforce, and Google Calendar
- Lacks analysis tools
- Navigation can be challenging
Pricing: Contact the organization for pricing options.
Culture Amp collects real-time insights through diagnostic, deep-dive and pulse surveys, as well as analytics and action planning.
- Easy for employees to use
- User-friendly analytics and actionable insights
- Doesn’t provide clear view of how responses change over time
- Lacks continuous Pulse surveys
- Lacks eNPS survey capabilities
- Doesn't natively connect engagement to performance data
Pricing: Contact the organization for pricing options.
This continuous performance management software enables an ongoing cycle of feedback and action with easy-to-set-up employee engagement survey tools and powerful real-time insights.
- Strong customer service and highly responsive to user feedback
- Easy to use and flexible with set up
- Many options for customization
- Offers limited integrations
- Limited engagement benchmark data
Pricing: Starts at $7500.00 as a flat rate, per month.
Reflektive offers employee engagement survey templates and engagement reports that let organizations collect feedback and act on the results.
- Ample customer support and training resources
- Cost is prohibitive for some organizations
- Limited search features
Pricing: Contact the organization for pricing options.
Peakon’s employee engagement software platform aims to surface insights about employee experience through ongoing two-way conversations.
- Provides organization-wide visibility
- Can be hard to interpret and act on the massive amount of data
- Lack of mobile administrative function
Rating: No rating in the G2 report
Pricing: Contact the organization for pricing options.
Workday HCM is a single, cloud-based solution for workforce planning, analysis, and execution.
- Offers an all-in-one solution to HR human capital management
- Excellent security architecture
- Price is prohibitive for many small and mid-sized businesses
- Can be overwhelming for new users and requires a learning curve
Rating: No rating in the G2 report
Pricing: Starts at $4.95 per employee, per month.
BambooHR provides a full HR suite covering onboarding, hiring, employee recognition, compensation, and culture. It provides engagement tools, including eNPS scores and deep analytics.
- Easy to use and excellent onboarding
- Can be deployed internationally
- Designed for small and medium-sized businesses so may not be ideal for large organizations
- Limited functionality without also purchasing and integrating other systems
The Trends Shaping Employee Engagement Solutions
Sweeping social, economic, and business environment changes are fundamentally reshaping the workplace for the better. An increase in remote workers is creating tremendous opportunities for organizations to attract top talent, better serve customers, and operate more leanly.
Additionally, we’re seeing a heightened focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace. Organizations are also taking measures to extend services and benefits that protect employees’ mental and physical health and wellness and commit to making their workplaces safe havens for staff.
Of course, employee engagement tools can be the vehicle that helps HR departments and the organizations they support to confront these hard-hitting issues and put into place meaningful changes. Engaged employees feel empowered to share their concerns, to be heard, to be part of the solution, and to feel like they have a say in the culture of the organization.
It all starts with being able to easily collect feedback, and that’s why we anticipate we will see more organizations turn to cutting-edge technology to connect with an increasingly diverse and dispersed workforce.
Lattice Engagement is designed to help you transition into this new phase of work and build a high-performance culture full of employees who are happy and committed to your organization.
It is the first-of-its-kind employee experience solution that helps companies identify what keeps employees engaged, connects performance metrics for rich insight, and guides you to take action that has a real, lasting impact.