How to Evaluate and Choose an Employee Engagement Software?

Evaluating employee engagement platform? Here's how to choose it.

You’ve decided to invest in employee engagement software.

After months of pitching the benefits to your CFO, you’ve successfully secured the funding to move forward.

Now, you’ve got to find the right platform.

Employee engagement software can have a tremendous impact on your business.

The best way to select an employee engagement software is to understand exactly what your company needs.

Why? Because, the technology you buy should be determined by the problems you want to solve.

You’ve got to identify what you want to do with your employee engagement software by asking some key questions.

Do you want to identify potential employee disengagement?

The data shows that disengagement is top of mind for many companies. About 8 in 10 executives say that employee engagement is very important or important to them.

Why? Well, the obvious answer is that engaged employees make companies more profitable. Organizations with engaged employees pull in 3-year revenue rates 2 to 3 times higher than the average.

In addition, organizations with engaged employees are 57% more effective. In addition, engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave compared to organizations with low engagement.

Despite all these statistics demonstrating the importance of employee engagement, only 4% of business leaders say they’re effective at engaging their workforce.

Oftentimes, this is because they don’t know where to start. Employee engagement feels nebulous and vague as a concept. How can senior leaders measure and improve employee engagement the same way they track more tangible metrics like sales or cost savings?

If your organization is struggling to capture data on employee engagement and produce insightful information about your company’s workforce, you need an employee engagement tool with powerful analytics capabilities.

Employee engagement software helps you identify specific causes of employee engagement.

You can capture and analyze data to determine whether your employee retention issues are due to poor role descriptions, lack of development opportunities, a poor relationship with managers and colleagues and more.

Do you want to monitor employee engagement trends using pulse surveys?

Gathering data on employee engagement is not meant to be a cosmetic exercise. It’s supposed to help you understand changes in employee behavior. The only way you can do this is by tracking the same, relevant metrics over a period of time.

For example, benefits, professional development opportunities, alignment with company values, and manager-employee relationships are all factors that contribute to employee engagement levels within an organization.

But your workforce’s feelings about these metrics will not stay the same. They will change based on factors including the company culture and organizational structure, employee expectations, and the competitive landscape.

Your employees’ feelings of alignment with the company’s values may nosedive after massive changes in the business strategy or leadership team.

Your employees’ positive feelings towards their benefits packages may dramatically change after the company switches to a new provider.

Or perhaps satisfaction with the benefits package gradually trends downwards as competitors offer more comprehensive benefits to their employees.

Tracking these metrics on a regular basis gives you a better understanding of how different factors impact employee engagement.

Here’s the thing. Employee engagement metrics vary at the same cadence that other organizational metrics vary.

As a result, it doesn’t make sense for companies to only measure engagement once a year. They should be measuring and reporting on them at least every quarter the way they do sales metrics or customer satisfaction metrics.

The best way to measure trends is to use pulse surveys. Pulse surveys are much shorter than employee engagement surveys. They are quick and convenient for employees to complete.

They ask a few questions from a pre-defined question set every few weeks in order to gauge how employees’ feelings change either over time or in response to company initiatives.

There are a few challenges that come with creating and distributing pulse surveys including:

  • How you decide which questions are most important to focus on in these shorter pulse surveys
  • How you execute on an omnichannel pulse survey distribution strategy (e.g. computers, smartphones) to make it as easy as possible for employees to complete

This is where the right employee engagement software offers value. Employee engagement software can help you select the questions that are more relevant to your organization and distribute those surveys to employees on a number of different devices.

Do you want to better prioritize your employee engagement initiatives?

Companies can only work on a limited number of issues at a time. Our internal research indicates that companies can only focus on about 10% of workplace issues. This means that HR teams must be able to rank and prioritize which issues get their energy.

The best way for HR teams to determine which employee engagement initiative to prioritize is to figure out which employee engagement issues have the greatest impact on business outcomes.

For example, if there are five employee engagement issues, and two of them are having the biggest impact on profitability, then the business should devote its attention to those.

Furthermore, this connection of employee engagement to business metrics about profitability helps HR shift it’s function from an administrative or compliance department to a strategic function that provides valuable insights to the business.

But how can HR leaders do this? They need a way to bring their employee engagement metrics together with their other business metrics and find relationships.

Sparkbay’s software allows companies to do this. It compares employee engagement pulse survey data to other operational KPIs including customer satisfaction survey results or sales metrics. It then prioritizes the company’s issues and gives the human resources team a way to focus its efforts.

This also allows the HR function to articulate the potential ROI that a specific employee engagement project will generate.

Do you want assistance in selecting expert questions?

How do you determine which questions to ask your employees?

Without specialized employee engagement software, your team would need to do the following to come up with relevant, useful survey questions:

  • Organize workshops to identify key issues
  • Pull out the most common themes from these workshops
  • Turn these themes into clear questions

Sparkbay streamlines this process for companies.

Sparkbay uses an annual review process to ensure that we have the best engagement questions.

Across our customers we track questions over time, looking for patterns and strength of correlations to see where new facets might be emerging. We also track customer requests for particular focus areas (e.g.: Wellness and Diversity & Inclusion).

We then evaluate this longlist to determine which questions will be included in our question bank for clients. We also ensure that we draft the best surveys by ensuring that every question:

  • Meets the objectives of the survey
  • Addresses the most pressing issues of the target population
  • Uses clear language that’s free from technical jargon
  • Clearly defines terms
  • Is a simple question as opposed to a complex, compound question
  • Avoids ambiguity and confusion, so there aren’t multiple interpretations among respondents
  • Is neutral and free from suggestion so respondents aren’t led towards a certain answer
  • Asks something that respondents are capable of answering

Sparkbay’s annual review process includes tests to optimize overall survey design to help clients avoid survey fatigue and other adverse survey behaviors.

Do you want enhanced data segmentation capabilities?

Do you want to be able to segment your data?

If you’re simply creating a survey in Google Forms, you won’t have these enhanced data segmentation capabilities.

This is another reason it’s worth investing in employee engagement software.

With employee engagement software like Sparkbay, you can accomplish a number of things.

Data segmentation helps companies create more meaningful employee profiles and segments. These profiles would be based on various demographic points instead of a limited number.

These profiles could include information on what jobs employees have, how long they’ve been at the organization, which office they’re based in, and their specific department or business unit.

These nuanced profiles also help you understand how different employees think and feel and how different categories of employees will react to certain organizational changes.

Data segmentation also allows you to get specific, understand which areas of the business are experiencing the most difficulties, and create a rapid feedback-to-action cycle.

A rapid feedback-to-action cycle is vital for improving employee engagement. And it’s most effective when actions can be taken directly by managers.

Sparkbay’s employee engagement software gives managers specific feedback with simple actions they can implement to make changes on their teams.

Do you only want a snapshot of your employee engagement?

At Sparkbay we recommend setting long-form surveys aside in favor of regular pulse surveys with consistent questions. But if your organization is set on distributing long-form surveys, we recommend finding a software that allows you to do this as effectively as possible.

Distributing a survey is not as simple as compiling a list of questions and distributing them via email.

When they aren’t done correctly, long-form surveys can hinder, rather than support, your objective to measure employee engagement.

To ensure your survey project isn’t derailed, be sure to keep the following in mind.

Distribute long-form surveys only once per year

While pulse surveys can be distributed frequently, long surveys several times a year can lead to survey fatigue or negative survey-taking behaviors like satisficing and straightlining.

Satisficing is when respondents don’t put much effort into answering survey questions. They only provide “satisfactory” answers to get the survey out of the way. Examples of satisficing behaviour include:

  • Choosing the first response option that seems reasonable instead of reading the entire list of possible responses for the best fit
  • Choosing “don’t know” instead of putting forward an opinion
  • Randomly choosing options

Straightlining is when respondents simply provide the same answers in a response scale, like choosing “3” for every question. This compromises the integrity of your data.

Limiting the number of surveys – and sharing the actions taken thanks to survey results – are one way to avoid survey fatigue, satisficing, and straightlining.

Select appropriate questions

Companies often adopt a kitchen sink approach to choosing survey questions.

For instance, they might ask employees about the Christmas party or the appliances in the kitchen when these questions don’t really get to the root of company problems.

Instead, companies have to choose questions that track changes in attitude about certain company features like advancement opportunities, job role fit, or relationships with managers and co-workers.

Write and revise your questions carefully

When companies distribute poorly designed surveys, it creates a frustrating experience for employees. And this leads survey-takers to avoid taking it, or if forced, simply putting down the same answer for every question. Common issues with survey questions design include:

  • Demographic questions that lead respondents to doubt the anonymity of the survey
  • Questions that are hard to understand
  • Questions that are not relevant to the respondent

Companies usually fall into these survey design pitfalls because they don’t have the resources to hire a statistician or the time to create a user-friendly survey.

The right employee engagement survey has these functionalities, saving companies time without compromising the quality of their annual survey results.

Final thoughts

Surprisingly, many organizations take action based on the results of an employee engagement survey, and then they don’t bother promoting those results.

It’s important for companies to not only measure employee engagement and take action, but to also communicate these actions to the business. Always connect workforce changes to your survey results, even if those changes were only partly informed by survey results.

When you’re sharing future surveys, be sure to include information about changes that resulted from previous surveys. This shows respondents that taking these surveys are worth their time, because they can associate surveys with positive changes they’ve experienced at work.

When you’re distributing a survey, include key findings from your previous surveys as well as what you did with those key findings.

Overall, your employee engagement survey should allow you to be as granular and specific as possible about understanding your workforce and implementing meaningful changes.