Definition

employee engagement software

Contributor(s): Shaun Sutner

Employee engagement software is a category of application programs that organizations use to increase employee job satisfaction and retain talented workers. The goal is to help workers become absorbed in the mission and culture of their organization, and therefore, be more productive and effective. Most modern employee engagement software is administered by human resource (HR) departments and is sold on a subscription basis as software as a service. This type of software may also be known as workforce engagement software.

As a formal management concept, employee engagement dates to the 1990s as organizations tried various strategies to motivate workers and drive loyalty and productivity. With the rapid growth of the HR technology sector in the 2000s, employee engagement software quickly became a popular human resource management (HRM) tool for reducing turnover, stimulating innovation and helping increase profitability. Today, most systems are optimized for mobile applications to better engage permanent full- and part-time employees and contingent workers who are often on their smartphones or not at a desk.

Concern about disengaged workers may be pushing employers to consider buying employee engagement software. Telephone and online contact and service centers are among the biggest customers for employee engagement software, to combat employee burnout, stress and turnover.

Employee engagement software features

  • Gamification technology adds entertainment, fun and competition features to regular work tasks. For example, workers such as sales representatives can compete by accumulating points by solving quizzes and puzzles and surpassing certain key performance indicators. Some gamification platforms also bring virtual reality or augmented reality aspects to workplace training and learning.
  • Employee recognition is a common component of employee engagement platforms. Many vendors also sell specialized software that organizations use to recognize team and individuals for achievements, reward employees -- either with cash or perks such as gift cards and retail discounts -- and distribute internal news about workers and promote corporate wellness technology and health programs.

    Engagement software can augment HCM benefits administration.

  • Employee feedback tools enable workers to express their feelings and ideas about leadership, peers, and work topics and policies. Instant or “pulse” employee surveys and other opinion-gathering techniques also are popular feedback tools.
  • Online benefits programs are another feature of some employee engagement software systems. Employees can view and select insurance and other benefits on their mobile devices or desktop computers. Some organizations integrate activities such as Fitbit or Apple Watch fitness challenges and other intra-organization competitions.

Industry trends

As of this writing, employee engagement software market is relatively immature, without a clear leader and many small to mid-sized vendors vying for customers. The vendor landscape for innovative technology for employee engagement is expanding, particularly in coaching and performance, communication, learning and careers, measurement, rewards and recognition, and health and well-being. Major human capital management (HCM) vendors are also adding employee engagement features to their systems.

The employee survey segment of the market is seeing growth. In addition to real-time surveys, technologies such as sentiment analysis and organizational network analysis software are becoming more widely available, as are open feedback systems that automatically ask peers for responses to improve employee performance.

Learn how employee engagement technology is interwoven with core HCM software and benefits components.

This was last updated in January 2018

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Why and how does your organization use employee engagement software?
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A standard tenent of management is that you can't automate what you don't do well manually.  Since the vast majority of companies are failing at employee engagement, automation is premature at best.
On the other hand, one can learn from companies that are succeeding, both in engagement and business results.  
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