Employee engagement indicates how connected employees are to their employers and their work. Highly engaged employees are more positive, productive, and interested in what they do. Their enthusiasm and commitment can permeate the workplace, influencing colleagues and business outcomes alike.
Employee engagement has major impacts on the organization. Strong engagement rates mean the organization will see:
- More revenue
- Increased customer satisfaction
- Lower employee turnover and absenteeism
- Better products
- More efficient operations
- Stronger teams
Fostering employee engagement takes dedication and commitment. To facilitate employee engagement, many organizations turn to employee engagement software to assist. These employee engagement tools help to track engagement, collect employee feedback, recognize employees, and help them communicate with each other.
Whether for employee engagement surveys, employee recognition, or performance management, the right employee engagement platform matters.
Below are some of the top tools available for helping improve the company culture and engage your employees better:
- Knowing what employee engagement tools and software are is a smart place to start
- Understanding the top tools, features and how to choose the best option can help your organization make sound investments.
What are employee engagement tools?
Employee engagement tools deliver the programs and services you are offering to your workforce. The best tools are designed to be intuitive, user-friendly, and compelling. Often, they tie into other technologies at play within the organization, including HR, payroll, employee benefits, IT, and learning and development.
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What is employee engagement software?
Employee engagement software applications are among the most common tools used by organizations to improve employee engagement. Software applications provide electronic access to services. That means they can usually be accessed anywhere from any type of device, which is ideal for remote employees.
There are many different types of software apps that address various kinds of engagement. They include:
One-on-one and group meetings are increasingly virtual, given the increase of remote and hybrid workforces. There are many software programs that help colleagues, managers, customers, and clients communicate.
Many of these tools became increasingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have remained a regular part of the workforce, offering functions for voice and video communications. These tools allow for file sharing, screen sharing, presentations, and webinars all in one platform.
Surveys and experiences
How can you easily track employee experiences and engagement levels? Software tools that allow you to conduct employee engagement surveys are a valuable part of your engagement strategy. You’ll want a tool that can do more than conduct an annual survey.
Look for products that offer annual, lifecycle, and pulse surveys. A collection of different survey instruments, all integrated, can build a more complete picture of your overall employee engagement.
Pulse surveys are designed to collect information quickly and are shorter, usually focused on a single topic or issue. These tools often are done in real-time with short collection windows.
Lifecycle surveys are conducted to certain types of employees, such as new hires or those exiting the organization. They can also be used to conduct “stay surveys” of those who have some longevity with the organization.
Lifecycle surveys usually focus on a specific issue that relates to the employee’s stage. They can help you understand what happens at important moments during the employee lifecycle, employee satisfaction, and the employee experience.
Giving employees feedback is an important way to build employee engagement. Waiting until annual performance reviews is not the best way to deliver in-the-moment observations. Tools that provide instant feedback in multiple directions give employees insights into performance in real-time.
With a record of feedback, managers can become better at coaching employees. In addition, employees become stronger team members and know when they’ve done good work.
Some tools provide 360-degree feedback, a comprehensive approach that delivers insights to employees from multiple perspectives. Feedback comes from colleagues, peers, supervisors, and subordinates, giving a fuller picture of one’s engagement with others.
Employees want to be recognized for deeds well done. Employee recognition programs are a proven strategy for increasing employee engagement. Recognition strategies can take several forms, from formal annual programs to smaller ways to recognize great work.
Recognition software platforms help employees recognize their colleagues in day-to-day engagements. Some platforms provide gamification options that allow for rewards to go along with recognition. For example, team members who excel and are recognized frequently enough may receive gift cards or additional days off.
Ideally, recognition programs will be intuitive and engaging, encouraging employees to participate and recognize others.
Leading others is an intuitive trait for some, but not all, managers. Employee engagement tools that are focused on managing and leading others can deepen the commitment of your supervisory staff.
These tools may include online courses, webinars, and training sessions. They may be used by HR to share best practices with managers in real-time. They can seamlessly fit into learning and development programs designed for new or seasoned leaders alike. Among the skills they can address are goal-setting, holding effective meetings, and recognizing and giving constructive feedback.
Track progress toward goals
Goal-setting and goal management are essential in any successful organization. It’s often difficult for organizations to keep goals top of mind and visible to the full workforce. However, transparency and regular reports on progress are critical for trust and engendering employee loyalty.
Tools that manage, track, display, and explain progress toward goals are powerful options. Progress tracking, overlays, key indicators, and insights into goals can provide everyone with the same information. These tools can also integrate with other tools, such as recognition and performance, to create a seamless engagement solution.
Data and insights
When you want to improve employee engagement, you need to know where you are at any given time. Tools that provide you with metrics and analytics are a crucial component of your employee engagement strategy.
People analytics tools help to compile, report on, and analyze data entered in various systems. With actionable insights, organizations can gain a clear, accurate, and timely picture of the company culture. They can use these insights to make the most of their performance and engagement data.
The 15 best employee engagement tools of 2023
Slack is a great tool to facilitate communication between employees in a controlled environment. It allows employees to communicate with one another no matter the location, making it especially useful for remote employees.
Pricing varies from $0 per month to $12.50 per month for their business pro-plus plan. An “enterprise grid” plan is available, but you must reach out to their sales department for a quote.
With Slack, you can communicate with people within your organization, create specific channels, and invite others (such as clients) to your channel.
Zoom is a comprehensive virtual communications platform that has seen dramatic usage growth since the start of the pandemic. It’s a reliable, secure video conferencing platform that allows for small and large meetings or webinars. It integrates seamlessly with Google and Microsoft tools and allows for screen-sharing.
Zoom can be used for live events and features breakout rooms, whiteboards and an interface for mobile use.
Pricing is free for a basic set-up. Other tiers range from $149 to $250 per year with an available enterprise version.
Awardco lets you recognize and reward employees for jobs well done. It offers a full library of gifts, ranging from event tickets to hotel stays. There is also access to millions of Amazon products included.
It features automated incentives that reward employees for meeting goals, finishing tasks, and participating in company projects. The software lets you build programs, such as wellness initiatives or team goals, directly in the platform. You can also tie the programs to company values, letting you sync recognition to a particular act or company pillar.
Pricing is not listed publicly.
ClearCompany is a one-stop solution for various talent management activities. It offers survey tools that can be created, launched, and tracked within the software. It also includes features to establish and approve employee goals and manage employee performance.
The software allows teams to celebrate successes and recognize personal milestones. There are also tools to find, hire, and engage the top performers. There are also solutions for applicant tracking, onboarding, workforce planning, and analytics.
Alignment is at the heart of ClearCompany. Its tools let managers and workers remain aligned on priorities, goals, and progress.
Bonusly is a peer-to-peer recognition tool that lets every employee in the company reward other employees. The platform is ideal for smaller organizations. It works by tying recognition to organizational values.
Employees can publicly recognize colleagues with points. Over time, as these small rewards add up, they become more valuable. Employees can redeem rewards for everything from gift cards to branded merchandise.
Employees can have fun with the platform, which is designed to be used daily. Users can add memes, gifs, and hashtags to posts, creating humor and goodwill with each post.
For employers, there are analytics tools that show what awards each department gives and how much employees have earned.
Pricing starts at $2.70 per user per month. The Pro version is $4.50 per month, and there are customized packages available for larger organizations.
Motivosity goes beyond the standard recognition app. It features four core areas of engagement:
- Connect, which helps employees engage with the organization
- Recognize, which offers peer-to-peer recognition to send kudos with an attached monetary reward. There’s a social feed, interest groups, personal profiles, and customizable rewards
- Lead, which provides management and functional product training tools. The tool helps build relationships with resources for better meetings, 1-on-1s, and agenda-building. Set and track priorities for the whole team, too
- Listen, which creates Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) and pulse surveys, tracks results, and creates reporting dashboards. Customizable surveys, reports, and dashboards allow for accurate measurements and actionable insights
Pricing includes a free option for the Connect functions. You can add the Recognize ($4 per month), Lead ($5), and Listen ($2) modules separately. There are also various bundled pricing options available.
15Five offers four modules that foster a deeper understanding of employee engagement. Its name? It takes 15 minutes for employees to complete a survey and 5 minutes for managers to review and comment.
The modules include:
- Engage. This feature uses evidence-based assessments to gauge what’s working and what is not. Analysis tools let managers take action quickly
- Perform. A new approach to performance reviews, this module helps employees and managers alike. Sections address role clarity, strengths discovery, and career vision
- Focus. This module helps track and clarify priorities, provide real-time feedback, and recognize employees. Tools include weekly check-ins with actionable insights and a one-on-one agenda builder
- Transform. Manager training and a coaching hub help you turn your managers into great leaders
Pricing is $14 per month. Different modules are available for $4 to $8 per month.
- Limeade Listening (formerly TINYPulse)
TINYPulse is a way to interact with employees no matter where they are on the employee lifecycle. The platform lets organizations gain feedback and take suggestions.
Each week, the platform can send a one-question survey to every employee. The pulse surveys are collected and tabulated in real-time. The tool also allows employees to submit anonymous suggestions. Employers can respond without discovering or revealing identities.
The platform includes other features, including Cheers for Peers (a recognition solution). Coach is another option that seeks to improve the efficacy of one-on-one meetings.
Pricing is available upon request.
Monday.com is known for its work management solution. The platform allows teams to collaborate using groups, boards, and project management tools. By using a singular resource, teams can track progress and keep everyone informed of where things stand.
The platform allows users to manage complex workflows, such as marketing, operations, and creative work. Manage finance requests and enable your sales team all from within the platform.
Projects can be segmented, and work handoffs can be made, providing both accountability and teamwork.
Pricing includes a free individual license. Basic services start at $8 per month. The standard platform is $10, and the pro version is $16.
Enterprise options are also available.
Empuls is a comprehensive platform with multiple features to boost employee engagement. This platform has lots to offer to connect teams, eliminate silos, and build appreciation for good work.
The platform’s extensive offerings include features for:
- Perks and Benefits
- People Analytics
Empuls puts an emphasis on remote work. One feature allows for the recreation of the physical workplace. It connects in-office and remote teams to get feedback, share ideas, and recognize great work.
Its Remote Rewards feature lets you easily recognize remote employees and reward them. There’s a global catalog where employees can redeem rewards for more than 20,000 products.
Pricing includes two options at $2 and $5 per month, with customized enterprise options available.
Designed to support hybrid workforces, Asana helps build strategic plans, goals, and work plans. Use workflow builders, timeline tools, boards, and calendars to build strong teams.
Team members can track projects, mark milestones and share feedback and files. Analytics and AI tools can automate processes, forms, and workloads. It functions on both desktop and mobile devices and provides real-time reporting.
The basic plan is free, with a premium plan for $10.99 per month and a business plan for $24.99.
If your organization has an international workforce, Fond is a powerful solution. It provides multiple language options, which sets it apart from similar platforms.
Fond’s recognition tool lets employees send coworkers points for great work and accomplishments. Fond Rewards points don’t expire and can be redeemed for swag, gift cards, or charitable donations. A global social feed lets everyone see who’s getting recognized.
The tool is highly customizable, and reporting lets you view metrics and analyze efficacy.
Fond Perks is an employee discount program that provides access to discounts on hundreds of products and services.
Pricing is available upon request.
Vantage Circle is a comprehensive platform for employee engagement. Its core features include a rewards and recognition program, corporate discounts platform, and gamified corporate wellness program. With Vantage Pulse, organizations can send eNPS surveys.
Vantage Circle features real-time dashboards for administrators and managers with insights on employee trends and engagement measures.
There are three pricing tiers—Grow, Transform, and Enterprise—though no pricing is provided online.
Imagine a tool that boosts collaboration and communication with automation. Otter.ai will generate notes from your meetings, presentations, and interviews. It allows team members to remain focused and engaged, confident they will receive detailed summaries after the event.
The automated speech transcription service includes full audio and written transcripts, keywords, and highlight functions. Comments and photos can be added, and workflows can be incorporated. It integrates with Zoom, allowing all users to have access to a transcription.
Signing up is free and costs $12.50 per month.
Looking for team-building activities for virtual, hybrid, or in-person employee groups? Outback Team Building has a powerful solution designed to foster a positive culture and strengthen team connections.
Among the more than 20 activities are a trivia contest, mystery challenges, and online puzzles and riddles. City scavenger hunts and challenges that reward acts of kindness are also on the menu.
The immersive experiences, along with event coordinators assist in planning and execution, provide a unique team-building experience. However, it’s about more than fun and games, with corporate training and development programs also available.
Pricing ranges from $8 to $40 per person, making it an affordable option for one-time engagement opportunities.
8 features to look out for when selecting an employee engagement tool
What should you look for in your employee engagement tools? The answer will depend in large part on what parts of the engagement process are in focus. Each platform will bring its own features and capabilities.
In general, here are some of the standard features to expect when evaluating employee engagement features.
- Usability: Can employees and managers alike use the system easily with features and capabilities that encourage return use?
- Collaboration and Communication: Team dynamics are an important factor in employee engagement. You need platforms that allow team members to work together, reward and recognize each other, and communicate.
- User Interface: Platforms designed for engagement need to be engaging. That means having appealing visuals and fun features that employees enjoy when using.
- Ease of use: For employees to be truly engaged, they will need to use some of these platforms on a daily basis. That means simple logins and reminders to come back.
- Integration: The best platforms will integrate easily with other organizational tools, especially those in HR, finance, and benefits. Integrations ideally will be built in and not require customization.
- Value: What will pricing mean for you and your teams? Is it easy to understand and make it simple to add or remove users?
- Goal Setting & Tracking: Tools that define goals and expectations, then reward engaged employees for achieving them
- Metrics: Your solutions should have built-in and customizable metrics functions that track progress and report on outcomes.
- Employee Training: How will employees learn how to use the software? Is it simple to learn, or will it require regular sessions with new users? Knowing the impact of training by IT or HR helps factor in all resource needs.
How to decide which employee engagement tool is right for you
There is usually not one size that fits all organizations. Free trials are a good way to assess whether a tool will work for your organization. Getting feedback from users is important, as tools that are not valued or used can hurt engagement.
Gaining baseline measures of engagement and learning how your organization can improve will help inform which tools are right for you.
Employee engagement tools can be a powerful addition to your HR suite of services. They can help reduce the decline in employee engagement seen in many organizations today. Knowing the available options and the features to look for can help sort through the options.
At Gusto, we work with companies of all types to improve employee engagement and manage key HR tasks.