Next generation employee engagement tools

Forget the yearly engagement survey, a raft of new technologies means engagement can be a daily, not yearly, occurrence. Here's our pick of the best new tools.

Measuring engagement levels used to mean annual staff surveys and the ability of individual managers to assess how their teams were feeling about the organisation and their roles. But now employers can add a range of technology-based tools to their armoury. Using apps and devices to capture emotions, or social recognition and reward platforms, engagement levels can be continuously assessed in real time.

Availability of real-time data is already proving valuable for customer insight so it’s no surprise that some of this technology is also being used to monitor employee engagement. “Customer and employee data can and should be sourced with similar tools,” says Dave Ulrich, professor of business at the Ross School, University of Michigan, and a partner at consulting firm RBL Group.

But Jon Ingham, executive consultant at Strategic Dynamics, reckons traditional engagement surveys will continue to play an important role. He stresses that data should be used to change the way people behave. “Getting data more quickly and more regularly doesn’t really increase this insight and may result in moving from a strategic perspective to engaging in more short-term activities,” he explains. “However, I also believe that the technology-based, data-rich environments we work in do offer new and significant opportunities for engagement.”

Ulrich cautions it is easy to become more enamoured with the technology “than the impact the information will have”. “The [tool] should help provide better information and access to delivering better business results,” he adds. HR magazine presents some of the hottest tools around.

Emotion monitoring devices

What do they do?

These simple devices provide an alternative and even quicker way of tapping into the mood of the workforce than online surveys. They can take the form of an app or a dedicated device. Here, employees will typically touch icons such as a smiley, sad or angry face, coloured buttons or a slider to indicate how they are feeling. This technology also provides analytical and reporting tools.

Social recognition and engagement platforms

What do they do?

Provide a vehicle to ‘spread the good news’ of employee success to peers as well as managers. Crowd-sourcing, gamification, messaging and familiar social networking tools are all used to nominate and recognise the achievements of others. They can be accessed as a discrete portal or built into the company intranet and extended to the mobile environment. Some can directly connect to a reward system that enables individuals to redeem points to shop via their smartphones, for example.

Examples: Globoforce; TemboSocial; Jostle; WooBoard

New generation employee surveys

What do they do?

Gather real-time and continuous feedback from the workforce in addition to or in place of annual employee engagement surveys. Questions can be tailored and targeted depending on an organisation’s needs and individuals can provide additional comments to back-up their answers. Typically web- or cloud-based, they are easy and quick to deploy, and provide dashboards and tools to help employers analyse and report on data.

Examples: Blackbook HR; Culture Amp; TINYPulse; QuestBack; SurveyMonkey