The Top 5 Employee Engagement Packages for Remote Work
What is employee engagement?
While it might seem like stating the staggeringly obvious, companies who want productive employees and low staff turnover need to make people feel valued, wanted and listened to. A less obvious but significant aspect of employee engagement is embedding a set of core values that employees identify with and feel proud of.
With the rapid expansion of remote work, employee engagement has become even more important given how easy it is for remote employees to feel isolated, under-valued and not involved.
Employee engagement is very weak in many workplaces
The Bersin/Delliote report – The state of employee recognition surveyed employees in 600 organisations in the US and flagged up some worrying findings:
- 70% of employees said they were recognised once per year or not at all
- 64% of employees leave their jobs because they do not feel appreciated
- There was a wide gap between what company leaders thought they had in place and how employees felt.
Too many employers’ programs focused on financial factors rather than engagement and recognition. Regardless of all other factors, a 15% improvement in employee engagement can result in 2% increase in margins.
This survey was of mainly office based staff but you can be certain that its findings will be amplified for remote workers.
Managers find manging remotely more difficult
All the signs are that managers faced with the new challenges of managing remotely are far more obsessed with their own insecurities than those of their team members. The OwlLabs State of Remote Work survey showed that managers running remote teams were most worried about:
- Reduced employee productivity (82%)
- Reduced employee focus (82%)
- Lower employee engagement and satisfaction (81%)
- Whether their remote employees are getting their work done (80%).
And they were least concerned with:
- Employee loneliness (59%)
- The career implications of employees working remotely (65%)
- Employees overworking (67%)
- Difficulty managing them (68%).
This makes horrific reading both for remote employees and their managers.
How does employee engagement software help fix this?
Employee engagement software has been around for a while now. It aims to:
- Help managers improve their management of and communication with their teams
- Give employees a channel to express their concerns without inhibition based on anonymous participation, producing feedback that otherwise wouldn’t be heard
- Provide a mechanism than encourages the recognition of significant work done well
- Provide feedback at an executive level on employees’ satisfaction levels
- Help maintain and promote company values and culture.
It aims to keep a finger on the pulse of all staff, whether they’re remote or not. More importantly it embeds a culture of feedback and resulting action both in employees and their managers. We believe this is absolutely critical to making remote work successful.
So who should buy employee engagement software?
We think that employee engagement software is one of the basic building blocks for remote work. If you have significant numbers of staff working remotely then we’d highly recommend you buy an employee engagement package. The cost/benefit equation is very good. Here are five of the best for remote work.
While most employee engagement software concentrates on continuous anonymised feedback, 15Five takes a different approach. 15Five is team based – around an employee and their manager.
Employees are initially asked to fill out a template containing something about themselves, their experience, achievements, career vision and agreed goals and objectives with their manager. After this initial exercise, employees are asked to complete a weekly ‘check-in’ where they provide an update on how they are progressing against their goals and objectives and to respond to both general and specific questions about how they’re feeling.
We definitely like the approach because it encourages interaction between employee and manager and it concentrates on meeting goals rather than trying to measure productivity by how many hours are being worked or keystrokes hit. It also effectively abolishes the once or twice yearly performance review. 15Five turns it into continuous performance review. This is a far better approach, especially for remote work where employees often need some added reassurance. In our view anything that encourages continuous but focused interaction between manager and team member has to be good.
Many companies struggle with inducting new employees into the company particularly where they are working remotely. This is an area where 15Five excels by encouraging the right things to happen.
There is also an option to send out separate engagement surveys which are anonymised, but these are large 25 question surveys, more like a traditional employee survey than the continuous feedback used by many other packages in this area. 15Five say they are working on improving this.
15Five also supports the set-up of 1:1s complete with agenda and actions agreed.
Our verdict? This is a very impressive employee engagement package, highly suited to remote work and we’d recommend you take a look. 15Five costs $7 per user per month for the basic version with limited functionality or $14 per user per month for the Plus version with full functionality.
If you’re interested in 15Five read our in-depth review of 15Five.
We like Nailted. It’s one of the more basic packages but it is well adapted to remote work. Nailted say their principles are to:
- Continuously ask for feedback and to act on this
- Create positive culture change by encouraging good habits
- Build a recognition culture
- Support remote workers
Nailted places a lot of emphasis on promoting a positive culture of communication and recognition. Manager/team member 1:1s are built into the product and so is a ‘claps’ mechanism to encourage thank yous for work well done. Nailted have also built video conferencing in to the package to facilitate 1:1s with remote employees.
Management get to see a ‘mood map’ for either the whole company or individual teams. This is a visual representation of how teams are feeling and shows what direction those feelings are moving in. Nailted also sends out a monthly e-mail to management showing which are the best and worst performing areas and how they’ve improved or got worse during the month.
We think Nailted works and is ideal for small companies who work predominantly remotely – Read our detailed review of Nailted here.
Happyforce focus on collecting continuous feedback via their mobile app and also provide functionality to give thank yous for jobs well done .
By concentrating on the mobile app Happyforce have been able to introduce employee engagement into work areas previously untouched by these sorts of tools, like warehouses and factories. The analytics it provides really are superb. Managers at team or company level can see the overall happiness of their teams as well as individual (but anonymised) comments to help them work out what they need to act on. This empowers employees to express how they feel and ask for improvements and as importantly makes managers aware of their actions and what they’re doing well or badly.
Happyforce offers the facility to take suggestions for improvements in the way the company works and display these on a shared wall so everyone can see them.
Anonymised responses to feedback questions can be aggregated at team, department and team level and compared with other companies or similar size and type in Happyforce’s database. Happyforce have a few hundred clients.
Happyforce costs €200 per month for every 100 users with a minimum of 100 users but they will do deals depending on what each client wants.
Culture Amp is more than just employee engagement software, it’s a comprehensive HR package, with a big customer base, covering just about every facet of employee engagement and performance. Culture Amp’s huge user base allows them to provide very good benchmarking data to compare your department or company satisfaction levels against other similar companies. Culture Amp can facilitate individual performance reviews with goal setting and tracking and 360 degree feedback. It also includes modules that help managers handle employee issues. Being able to turn dashboard performance data into PowerPoint slides is also quite a nice feature. Culture Amp is aimed at larger enterprises so you can expect charges to be at the higher end.
Glint is a slick package that focuses on surveying staff on a continuous basis and providing analyses of the results. In many ways it’s an automation of the traditional method of surveying staff on a periodic basis, seeking out issues from the data and fixing them. It shows trends, good or bad in the data as well as providing advice and action plans to managers to address the issues that the package flags up. It allows you to compare employee feedback against industry benchmarks and also features ‘predictive analytics’ to warn you if it detects patterns in the feedback that indicate a teams is at risk of losing people. Glint’s reporting and presentation of data is particularly strong and visually attractive. Glint also supports employee appraisals with 360 degree feedback but doesn’t contain employee recognition functionality.
Glint are part of the LinkedIn group. We asked Glint for pricing but they weren’t prepared to provide this. This is likely to indicate that they’re at the higher end of the charging scale.
Pretty much every package in this market supports continuous communication with staff and anonymised feedback. For remote workers we think this isn’t just a nice to have, it’s essential. You can achieve this by carrying out periodic staff surveys but we think these packages are a lot more effective, agile and cost efficient. They let remote employees know that you want their feedback and that you care. As far as the individual packages are concerned we like Nailted, 15Five and Happyforce but all for different reasons! If you’re a smaller company and want a simple competitively priced employee engagement package then go for Nailted. If you’re a little bigger and want a more sophisticated set up that incorporates continuous reviews as well as feedback then go for 15Five. Happyforce is a little different, being mobile based, but as a result will work for almost any company in any environment. It’s another sophisticated piece of employee engagement software and definitely worth a look.
Liked our review of employee engagement software for remote work? Look at our other product reviews in our reviews section.
Gren Gale is a consultant in Remote Work and Project Management and has been named as one of the top 19 Key Opinion Leaders globally in remote work in Who’s Who in Remote Working? He is author of the Remote Project Manager and Remote Work The New Normal.
Articles and reviews on this site are written from an unbiased viewpoint. We only review products which are relevant to Remote Work or Project Management and ones we believe in. Once this review of employee engagement software was written we looked to see if some of the links could generate affiliate income. It won’t make us rich but it helps pay the rent!