Table of Contents

    Introduction

    Choosing employee engagement software is a big decision. It’s one of the most important aspects of creating a successful employee engagement program.

    By now you’ve likely researched what employee engagement is and how it can benefit your company. Now it’s time to consider the specifics of how to implement your employee engagement program. An important piece of any successful program is your choice of tools. This guide will walk you through how to choose the best employee engagement software for your company.

    The decision-making process includes what factors to consider when choosing an employee engagement platform, how to demonstrate value to your internal stakeholders, and how to weigh your options based on your specific needs.

    Thank you for reading this buyer’s guide as part of your decision-making process. We hope you find it useful in identifying what is most important to you and your company when purchasing employee engagement software.

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    What is employee engagement software?

    Employee engagement software is the set of tools you use to measure employee engagement, identify areas to improve, and support company leadership in improving engagement. This typically includes employee surveys, historical reports, and management dashboards.

    However, employee engagement software has evolved to encompass more of the employee experience. Moving beyond simple surveying and reporting, best-in-class employee engagement software now recommends specific actions company leadership can take to support their engagement efforts. By including leadership training and development material tailored to employees’ survey results, modern employee engagement software has become a cornerstone of successful employee engagement programs.

    Why should companies care about employee engagement software?

    Companies should use employee engagement software for the same reason they should have a mature employee engagement program. Highly engaged companies realize meaningful business outcomes, including:

    • Greater growth than less engaged companies
    • Increased employee productivity and performance
    • Lower employee turnover and absenteeism
    • Higher levels of job satisfaction and employee retention
    • Higher levels of creativity and innovation

    The best employee engagement software supports these outcomes—and numerous other benefits—by giving company leaders knowledge of how to address problems in the workplace. As explained in the SHRM report Business and Human Capital Challenges Today and in the Future:

    While many vendors are focusing on differences in measurement approaches (pulse surveys, one-item daily surveys, shorter surveys, more action-based items) to enhance engagement, little attention has been paid to the execution side of the equation. Better equipping supervisors and managers with knowledge of how to confront real issues within the workplace and problem solve with peers and subordinates could go a long way in fundamentally enhancing the workplace. Once problems are identified, managers are expected to miraculously know how to address sometimes complex and systemic issues without much training or guidance. Providing tangible best practices and training to confront real workplace issues are key supports needed for effective action downstream.

    Said more simply, the best employee engagement software does more than point out problems to management. It advises managers on how to fix problems. While there are other methods through which to offer employee engagement training, choosing a software solution that incorporates training material will streamline the process of moving from information (survey results) to action (leadership action plans tailored to your survey results).

    However, it is not necessary to choose employee engagement software that incorporates leadership development training material. Any software which measures and reports on employee engagement can help fulfill some basic requirements of a successful employee engagement program. Incorporating training material into your chosen employee engagement software may be less important to your organization if you already have a mature leadership training program.

    By moving measurement and reporting functions into a software tool, you will systematize data collection and analysis. Automating this aspect of your employee engagement program will decrease administrative efforts to understand your workforce’s level of engagement. Further, employee engagement software will consistently and reliably measure engagement, versus more manual surveying methods.

    What employee engagement needs can be fulfilled by software?

    Any employee engagement software you choose should be able to consistently and reliable measure the level of engagement in your organization. Measurement can take many forms, the most common of which is an employee engagement survey. Engagement surveys typically take five to fifteen minutes to complete. Most surveys measure a range of factors that influence employee engagement.

    Once measurements are collected, most employee engagement software will provide engagement reports. Typically these reports identify company-wide trends, historical changes in employee engagement, and insight into the influence of demographics on engagement. This informs company leadership on where to focus their employee engagement efforts.

    As covered earlier, the best-in-class employee engagement software now offers insights and advice on how to support your engagement efforts. Advice ranges from high-level suggestions about types of engagement activity to detailed step-by-step guides tailored to the specific needs of your organization.

    An even smaller subset of employee engagement software offers prioritized leadership action plans to support sustained, long-term employee engagement efforts.

    What employee engagement needs can not be fulfilled by software?

    Unfortunately, employee engagement software can not fully replace or automate the need for a management team committed to employee engagement efforts. Any software which claims to simplify employee engagement or to be a one-stop solution for implementing your entire employee engagement program is likely less effective than advertised.

    Additionally, employee engagement software may provide tools to implement processes, but they rarely offer adequate processes themselves. Most companies wish to build processes around what makes sense for their organization, and it is difficult for vendors to accommodate the unique needs of each company.

    Further, some companies wish to find fully integrated HR suites that take care of all talent management needs. Unfortunately, this may result in non-optimal modules that technically serve all talent management functions but fail to do any one thing well. Therefore, it is typically best to look for specialized tools for each talent management need. From employee engagement to payroll to recruiting, you should choose the best available tool for the job instead of the most comprehensive tool.

    Red Flags When Buying Employee Engagement Software

    Warning Sign The software offers everything but the kitchen sink

    Just because software can do anything doesn’t mean it should. When there are countless features in a software platform, typically quality will suffer. Focus on software that meets your specific needs for employee engagement.

    Warning Sign The software claims to fix people problems

    No software can improve people on its own. While software may offer guidance that helps managers make better decisions, avoid promises that sound too good to be true. Software should help identify areas of need, not replace the role of company leadership.

    Warning Sign The software allows endless customization of surveys

    Proper measurement of employee engagement can only occur if you consistently measure it the same way over a long period of time. If software gives you the ability to completely overhaul your survey every time you send one, the vendor may not have considered the impact such ad-hoc changes can have on accurately measuring engagement.

    Warning Sign The vendor makes claims that are not based on research

    Employee engagement is a topic with decades of backing research. Vendors should be able to explain what they have used to develop their approach to measuring and improving engagement.

    Warning Sign The vendor won’t allow a hands-on trial or pilot of the software

    While some software solutions may be too complex to fully trial without a purchase commitment, most vendors should give you some way to evaluate or preview the software. However, a hesitancy to show you what you’re buying may indicate known problems in the software.

    Warning Sign Software pricing is not clear or transparent

    Ideally, vendors should list their pricing structure on their website or offer it freely via email. However, many salespeople will attempt to determine a price based on your budget by asking probing questions. This is an attempt to maximize their profit, not the value they can provide.

    Warning Sign The vendor does not have a highly engaged company

    Check Glassdoor, Indeed, and other company review sites to determine if the vendor has a highly engaged company of their own. If they have many disgruntled employees, it may indicate that their approach to employee engagement does not work.

    Employee Engagement Software Needs Self-Assessment

    The following sections describe several factors worth considering when choosing the best employee engagement software for your company. Please use our free employee engagement software comparison worksheet to assist you in your decision-making process.

    Employee Engagement Software Comparison Worksheet

    Current employee engagement challenges

    To make the best decision when purchasing employee engagement software, consider the challenges currently faced by your organization. Ask yourself what problems you see organizationally, within company leadership, and on the front lines with your employees.

    Is there internal resistance to existing employee engagement efforts?

    Some old-school managers feel that employee feedback in either direction—performance reviews or employee surveys—are a waste of time. In their experience, they have yet to see any sort of business pay-off for past retention efforts. In their eyes, employee engagement programs may feel like a waste of money, time, and effort. Overcoming this resistance to past bad experiences can be a challenge, but this guide offers several ways to approach internal stakeholder buy-in that may help.

    Even if there are no outspoken opponents of employee engagement efforts, there may be tools, processes, or other constraining factors in place that may limit the effectiveness of your employee engagement program. As you review existing tools and policies, ask yourself if anything you have in place today may subvert or minimize your attempts to increase employee engagement.

    For example, a seniority-based promotion policy may prolong the time it takes the most interested promotion candidates from getting their dream job. Is such a policy considered reasonable by your employees, or do they feel as though it may limit their career advancement opportunities? The answer to this question depends upon your existing workforce, company culture, and industry norms.

    What problems are you facing with your management team?

    Have you noticed if a specific department or manager has significantly higher turnover, safety incidents, or need for corrective action than other teams? These problems may be symptoms of a deeper problem with the team’s leadership. However, these symptoms may not be a reflection on the managers themselves: a number of causes may be identified, some of which can be solved with tool or process changes and some of which can not.

    For example, a manager who has 20 direct reports will likely be much less effective than a manager who has four direct reports. Alternatively, a manager who has no hands-on experience doing the jobs of his or her direct reports may not be as attuned to their needs as a manager came up through the ranks. As a third example, chronic micromanagers may have a productive team but experience high turnover because employees want more control over their day-to-day work.

    What problems are you facing with your employees?

    Similarly, your front-line employees may present challenges that make adoption of employee engagement efforts or new software difficult. Have they seen similar past efforts fail to take hold long-term? Have they experienced poorly-managed engagement programs where disengaged employees automatically become targets for termination? Are there other aspects of their work experience, assigned tasks, or team dynamics that have eroded trust with company leadership?

    For example, consider a team that is promised bonuses as a reward for meeting a deadline. If management reneges on the agreement after the team meets the deadline, the team will be less likely to commit to similar agreements in the future. Any commitment to future incentives or improvements will be met with scrutiny or disbelief. Such issues may lead to you modify your communication about your employee engagement program’s implementation plan. As an example, you may decide that employees will be more likely to participate in employee surveys if you commit to share and respond to survey feedback, versus them believing you will definitely improve the employee experience over the long term.

    Current employee engagement success

    Conversely, you should identify what is working well today. While the outcomes of introducing employee engagement software in your company are expected to be positive, you want to take great care to preserve what efforts your team is already benefiting from today. While you may not have an official employee engagement program, undoubtedly the approach your management team takes when working with employees will have some positive impact. Such positive outcomes from your organic company culture should be amplified instead of replaced.

    Which teams are highly effective today?

    If you have a department or team that is outperforming others by a noticeable amount, consider interviewing team members to uncover what has made them so successful. Perhaps the manager’s leadership style mixed well with the personalities and needs of team members. Alternatively, maybe the team recognizes their work serves a meaningful purpose and have therefore rallied around supporting each other to do their best work.

    The employee engagement software you purchase should support—or at a minimum, not interfere with—the team dynamics that already work well in your organization.

    What metrics are trending well?

    Two key outcomes of a successful employee engagement program are increased revenue and increased employee performance. If you are already measuring these or other critical metrics, how are they performing today? Before implementing any changes in your organization, consider what already causes your metrics to trend in the right direction. This may give you ideas on what features are necessary or nice-to-have in your employee engagement software.

    For example, if you see that team productivity is cyclical in nature, you may wish to use software that allows you to schedule employee engagement surveys during low-productivity times. Such an approach would minimize employee distractions during high-productivity times.

    What processes are working well?

    Good processes and policies are one aspect of work that can positively influence performance metrics. A good process or policy is one which enables employees to consistently perform a task safely and properly.

    An example of a good process is an employee review checklist. Following a checklist ensures that you miss no critical steps in a process that would otherwise experience room for human error. By following an employee review checklist, managers can ensure they cover all of their bases (e.g., discussing goals, objectives, and compensation; filing appropriate paperwork with HR; and updating the review status in the company’s talent management system).

    What tools are working well?

    Similarly, examine which tools that impact the employee experience are already working well. Perks and rewards programs often come with apps that let employees recognize one another, share awarded badges, or keep track of company perks. Consider whether those tools still belong in your organization and how they might support, augment, or duplicate the features and benefits of your new employee engagement software.

    If your employees enjoy weekly pulse surveys that let them share how they feel with their manager, think twice before replacing it for a more comprehensive suite. Instead, look for employee engagement software that can work alongside your existing tools. Even if your employee engagement software doesn’t integrate with your pulse survey software, it’s best to utilize the best tool for each purpose.

    Goals and objectives for your employee engagement program

    Outline the goals and objectives you have for your employee engagement program before you choose your software solution. What specific outcomes and benefits do you hope your program will achieve? While most employee engagement software will support engagement efforts, your specific goals may significantly influence your purchasing decision.

    For example, after reviewing your long-term goals, you may decide that certain features are more or less important to you. If you are focused on building a scalable leadership team over the next 3-5 years, you may prefer employee engagement software which includes leadership training and management accountability features.

    What are you must-have features for employee engagement software?

    Now that you know what features are available in employee engagement software, consider which ones you truly need for your organization. Please use our free employee engagement software comparison worksheet to identify which software platform is the best fit for you.

    At a minimum, you should select employee engagement software that can measure and report on your employees’ level of engagement at work. This typically comes in the form of employee engagement surveys, executive reports, and historical reports.

    Beyond those basic features, most organizations will benefit from software features that incorporate leadership training and accountability. These features, some of the most recent in the maturation of employee engagement software, ensure that your managers are equipped to respond to employee feedback and can be held accountable for doing so.

    What are nice-to-have features for your employee engagement software?

    Some platforms have dozens of features, many of which sound compelling. However, instead of focusing on the number of features you get with each solution, focus on whether each solution helps you meet your employee engagement program’s goals and objectives.

    An example nice-to-have but generally unnecessary feature is native mobile app support. Most employee engagement software is accessible through any modern web browser, including on smartphone and tablet devices. While native mobile apps may give you a more robust user experience than a mobile-ready website, they are not necessary to fulfill the goals and objectives of most employee engagement programs.

    However, the decision is up to you. With the mobile app example, some believe that native mobile apps encourage higher survey response rates (assuming you can convince all of your employees to install the app). Consider the costs and benefits of any feature you may adopt as part of your employee engagement software. Also, it’s important to recognize that you don’t have to use all of the available features in your chosen solution simply because they exist. If you have no need for perks management features but your preferred employee engagement software has those features, you can ignore the pieces of the software that you don’t need.

    Employee engagement software implementation planning

    Once you have decided which employee engagement software is right for your company, you should consider what the purchase approval and onboarding process will look like. Who else is involved in your organization’s purchasing process? What requirements, questions, concerns, goals, and objectives do they have? What are your budgetary and timeline constraints, and can the chosen software vendor help you work within those constraints? These questions and more are covered in the sections that follow.

    What does your decision-making process look like?

    Budgetary constraints

    Determine how much you are willing and able to spend on employee engagement software. The pricing model varies from vendor to vendor, and there are plenty of options depending on what you need. Some vendors require upfront annual or multi-year contracts, whereas others adopt a self-service subscription model based on company size. Some employee engagement software vendors even charge per-survey with no commitments.

    Even if your budget or purchasing process does not directly match the vendor’s preferred sales process, ask for options. Most vendors are willing to work on special pricing models that offer discounts for long-term commitments or adjusted payment terms to accommodate quarterly budgets. The majority of vendors in the employee engagement software space take a traditional enterprise sales approach, so they are perfectly willing to structure deals around what is most feasible for their clients.

    Time constraints

    Onboarding your company onto a new employee engagement product can take some effort from the vendor. For example, they may need to load your org chart—including reporting structure, employee demographics, and job titles—into their system for you. This is a sometimes partially manual process for vendors, meaning it takes some time to onboard your team into the software. Ask your vendor what the typical adoption process looks like and how long it takes to get into the system after signing a contract.

    Also consider what timeframe is acceptable for your organization. Vendors who do not offer a self-service option may take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to onboard a new customer. Understanding your timeframe for adoption is important for internal education and marketing efforts. You will need to train your managers on how to use the software. Additionally, you will need to inform employees of when to expect their first survey and how long they have to complete it. That planning depends upon the software vendor’s timeline for onboarding your company.

    Organizational constraints

    Just as your employee engagement program encompasses more work than buying some software, successful software adoption requires more than payment. Once you purchase employee engagement software, you will need to ensure someone in your company is the designated owner or manager of that software. You will also need to determine what support and maintenance burdens—if any—you will be responsible for in the long term.

    Additionally, you may feel that you need professional support with how your employee engagement software should work within your overall engagement program or change management efforts. Many vendors offer individualized coaching and consulting services to help people make the best use of their software.

    Ownership of the employee engagement program

    If you already have an employee engagement program manager, that person may be the best candidate to manage your software over the long term. If you have not already designated a program manager for your overall engagement efforts, now is a good time to do so.

    Selecting an appropriate employee engagement program manager is one of the most important decisions you will make in establishing your program. A great program manager will dedicate the time and resources needed to make your engagement efforts successful over the long term.

    The employee engagement program manager role requires the authority to institute metrics, tools, processes, and training programs. Additionally, they must be allocated the time in their work week that they believe is necessary to make your employee engagement program successful. It may not be a full-time role, but it is an important one that requires regular attention.

    Support and maintenance of the software

    The success of your newly purchased employee engagement software will require a sustained effort over time. When most people think of software support and maintenance, they think about software developers, bug fixes, software updates, and security. Thankfully, these aspects of support and maintenance are covered by most employee engagement software vendors.

    However, there is still a need for your organization to support and maintain the software. These tasks take the form of regularly reviewing use of the software, ensuring all employees are in the system, ensuring people use the system, and determining whether the software meets your goals and objectives on an ongoing basis.

    For instance, you may find it necessary to update surveying methods, messaging your management team should use when sharing or responding to survey results, and engagement training for your management team. These support and maintenance tasks typically fall to the aforementioned employee engagement program manager or one of their team members.

    Employee engagement program coaching and consulting services

    Most software vendors offer supporting services that help you make the best of their software. While typically an optional offering, you may find that your organization will benefit from these services. This is especially true if you are just beginning your employee engagement program. Employee engagement consultants can advise you on more than just use of the software: they can share strategies and tactics from other clients’ engagement efforts, and how their software fits into the overall picture of your engagement program.

    These premium consulting services may include highly structured training programs for your leadership team. Consultants may also offer ad-hoc advising sessions you or other managers can use as needed. These coaching and training services can increase your team’s understanding of the surveying process, how to respond to survey feedback, and how to better motivate team members based upon their survey feedback.

    Some vendors may even offer outsourced management of your entire employee engagement program. While this is useful for bootstrapping new company-wide engagement efforts, you should plan on making this an internal effort in the long-term. Simply put, your company should guide its own employee engagement efforts. Company culture is generally considered to be under the purview of the CEO. Culture is not something that can be outsourced to a part-time consultant. However, consultants provide valuable insights into what has succeeded or failed for other companies. Due to their broader experience, you will find that consultants can help you establish a mature employee engagement program more quickly than you might do on your own.

    Internal stakeholder buy-in

    One of the most difficult aspects of any decision-making process is obtaining buy-in from other stakeholders. Buy-in requires an alignment of goals and objectives, even if each person in the decision-making process has their own separate needs and concerns.

    Consider the needs, questions, and concerns of the people who have a say in the decision-making process. What do they need to see in your company’s employee engagement software, and how can you demonstrate that your chosen solution addresses their reservations?

    Begin by identifying who must approve your software purchase. Then determine what concerns they may have. Once you understand their concerns, determine whether or not your selected software can address their concerns. If so, communicate how the software will fit their needs. If not, ask yourself whether you need to better understand the software or choose different software that takes your stakeholders’ considerations into account.

    Address the needs and concerns of your internal stakeholders

    This section outlines several stakeholder roles typically involved in the decision-making process for employee engagement software. We will cover the most common objections for each role, as well as how you can overcome these common objections and gain buy-in for your purchase decision.

    StakeholderGoalReservationsSolutions
    Chief Culture Officer (CCO)Guide company culture and align employees with what the company valuesEngagement software attempts to automate an inherently personal and emotional connection to the companySoftware can augment and support your cultural efforts instead of replacing them, and gives you objective insights you can use to improve interpersonal relationships at work
    Chief Executive Officer (CEO)Make all aspects of the business successfulEngagement software may reinforce ideas that do not align with our company cultureEngagement software will not attempt to influence culture, merely measure indicators of employee engagement. Management can choose how they use the information to best support the company culture
    Chief Financial Officer (CFO)Ensure the company makes sound, profitable financial decisionsNeed to understand the ROI on purchasing the softwareHighly engaged companies benefit from increased growth, employee performance, and employee retention
    Chief Human Resources Officer (CRHO)Ensure the company has the people and training needed to be successfulManagers may take offense to some employee feedback

    Employee surveys create extra administrative work

    This introduces yet another tool for talent management

    Employee feedback can be anonymized, and pre-emptive engagement training can mitigate the risk of managers taking punitive action in response to negative feedback

    As the team becomes more engaged, there will be fewer instances of corrective action

    It gives valuable information that can be used to bolster recruiting and retention efforts, and managers can be made directly responsible for team management

    Chief Technology Officer (CTO)Ensure the company makes sound, sustainable technology decisionsSoftware will require support and maintenance

    Need to understand if the software has adequate security and privacy controls

    Most employee engagement software vendors offer cloud-based solutions which do not require technical support and maintenance from their clients

    Review vendor security and privacy policies, typically found on their company website

    ManagerMaximize employee productivityEmployee surveys distract us from actual work

    I don’t need software that tells me what my team members think

    Survey feedback gives you actionable information about how to better motivate employees, resulting in increased employee performance

    While software doesn’t replace the need for interpersonal communication, it gives you additional data points you can compare across teams to identify trends you may not see in individual interactions

    EmployeeProduce valuable, high-quality workSoftware will not influence or change company culture in a beneficial way

    Managers may take punitive action in response to candid feedback

    Software will help management understand what employees care about and how the company can better support them

    Feedback can be made anonymous, and appropriate training can mitigate the risk of managers taking personal offense to employee feedback

    Employee Engagement Software Evaluation

    Now that you have determined your organization’s needs for employee engagement software, it’s time to evaluate options. Consider how well each vendor’s features align with your needs. Also evaluate the benefits, expected outcomes, available training, company onboarding, and the user experience for your managers and employees.

    What features are provided?

    Review your employee engagement software comparison worksheet to determine whether your top employee engagement software options include all of the features you want or need. While it’s unlikely that any platform will perfectly line up with your organization’s wants and needs, the worksheet will help you choose the best available option.

    What outcomes are expected from using the software?

    Does the software vendor specify what results or outcomes you should see in your organization as a result of using their product? Common benefits include increased employee retention, job satisfaction, job performance, profitability, and revenue. Ask yourself whether the expected benefits match the goals and objectives you have for your employee engagement program.

    Does the cost of the software reflect the value provided?

    Many of the top vendors in the employee engagement space do not publicly share their pricing structure, because they structure deals on an individual basis. Unfortunately, this means you may have to endure several sales meetings to assess whether non-transparent vendors have a pricing structure that will give you a reasonable return on investment.

    The industry is moving toward more transparent pricing, typically based on team size. Pricing based on the size of your team is very value-oriented: larger organizations reap a larger benefit from employee engagement efforts. This benefit increases as companies grow.

    Other pricing models are based on the number of employee engagement surveys conducted. While this is similar to pricing based on team size, it constrains the number and frequency of surveys you may issue. Certainly, you will not be issuing employee surveys every day, but this pricing model will make you think twice when asking yourself whether it’s time to send another survey to your team. Therefore, it’s best to remove that concern by choosing employee engagement software that doesn’t limit core functionality based on what you pay. Additionally, charging extra for more frequent surveys places an artificial restriction on your employee engagement efforts, hampering your ability to quickly and regularly understand the impact of your engagement program.

    Are there adequate user education and support materials?

    Many employee engagement vendors offer demo videos or knowledge base articles to walk users through the core features of their software. If you find that publicly available training material for your desired employee engagement software is not sufficient, ask the vendor if there are supplemental materials or web-based training available to paying customers.

    Is the user experience acceptable?

    Your employee engagement software is only useful if people use it. Review any demo videos, screenshots, or instructions the software vendor provides to determine if the software will work well for your team. Several vendors now offer free trials or sandboxed demo environments to let you test the user experience first-hand before a purchase.

    Ask yourself whether the survey experience is simple and clear enough for your employees. Also review available reporting and management-centric features to see if they make sense.

    Granted, every employee engagement software platform has its own vocabulary and approach to measuring engagement. It’s unlikely you will fully understand all reporting and functionality in any software platform before spending some time with it. However, good software should give you a way to quickly find information about the platform’s vocabulary and approach to measuring employee engagement. Even if the software doesn’t make complete sense at first glance, do you feel that you will be given sufficient support from the software vendor to make sense of everything you see?

    Do their customers experience high survey response rates?

    Second only to what is being measured, your response rate is the most important aspect of surveying employees. If too few employees respond to your survey, any data displayed in the software’s reports will be useless. For most organizations, you should seek a minimum of a 70% response rate.

    However, most software vendors tout a significantly higher response rate, anywhere from 80% to 95%. Employee engagement software platforms can realize these higher response rates through email reminders to lagging survey participants. While most software should give you an meaningful response rate, a significant difference in response rate may be a deciding factor when choosing between two similar platforms.

    Do their customers experience regular usage from their management teams?

    Employee engagement efforts do not stop when employees complete the survey. Managers must review reports and take action in order for your software solution to be truly effective. Ask vendors if they have any information on management engagement with the software, and how management is expected to use the software once a survey period is over.

    Are security and privacy concerns adequately addressed?

    Employee engagement software collects very sensitive information about your personnel. Employee details, demographic information, and employee sentiment toward various company efforts are all captured by this class of software. Therefore, strong security and data privacy practices should be a key requirement for any employee engagement software you choose to adopt.

    Security and privacy concerns should by-and-large be handled by your software vendor. Most software platforms in the market today are cloud-based, vendor-hosted solutions. The vendor is therefore responsible for the security of their software platform.

    Check for industry-standard security practices

    If your vendor has a published security policy, review it to understand whether they have a mature security program in place. Mature security programs should have a documented way to report security incidents. Additionally, they should have a way for the security community to participate in reporting and remediating security vulnerabilities.

    Beyond these practices, look for decent technical security practices to ensure the vendor is covering their bases. Their website should be HTTPS-only (as indicated by a padlock icon in your web browser’s address bar) to encrypt communication between your computer and their servers. Additionally, they should never request your password or store your password in plain-text or another easily retrievable way.

    Check their data retention and privacy policies

    Review your vendor’s privacy policy to find if they share data with third parties, analyze data for marketing or other purposes, or have controls for retaining or deleting data at your request.

    The vendor should also be prepared to discuss how they secure your data from being accessed by other customers or unintended third parties. If you’d like to test their preparation for this topic, ask whether your company’s data will be physically isolated or logically isolated from other companies, or whether your company’s software will be hosted in a single-tenant or multi-tenant environment. There is no wrong answer to either of those questions—in both instances, either answer is perfectly fine—aside from being unable to give you a straightforward answer.

    What does the implementation process look like?

    Ask the vendor if they have a timeline or roadmap for onboarding your company once you decide to make a purchase. Onboarding may take a few days to a few weeks, depending on the complexity of the software you are purchasing. Additional time delays can be expected for employee engagement software that deeply integrates with existing tools or systems.

    Beyond the time it takes to get set up, you want to understand what will be expected from you or your team during the implementation process. Your selected vendor may need nothing more than an org chart or list of employee names and email addresses. However, this varies from vendor to vendor, so ensure you understand what you need to provide to make the implementation process as frictionless as possible.

    Also ask if the vendor can offer any support or guidance on internal marketing as part of company onboarding. For example, communicating the implementation plan to managers, setting up training or coaching for your management team, and devising a communication plan for your first survey rollout—and the subsequent feedback response plan—are all important aspects of your employee engagement software rollout.

    What software support is available?

    Ask the vendor if there are service-level agreements (SLAs) for software availability (uptime), regularly scheduled maintenance windows, or other events that may impact your company’s ability to use the software from time to time. Generally, most companies offer an SLA of 99.9% uptime or greater (that is, less than an average of 45 minutes downtime per month). This is important because you don’t want to send a survey to your entire company only to have them be unable to respond to it due to downtime.

    Additionally, you should expect some form of technical support if your team encounters problems with the software. Ask what support channels are available and what the support hours are. Generally software vendors will offer email or phone support during business hours. Whatever the method, ensure that you have some point of contact in case you encounter problems during or after company onboarding.

    Reaching Your Decision

    Remember that whatever employee engagement software you purchase should align with the goals and objectives you have set for your employee engagement program. While the software is only one part of a successful program, the tools you use can have a lasting impact on the overall employee experience.

    Best of luck to you and your employee engagement program!

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