Should You Build an Employee Engagement Tool In-House? And How to Talk to Your IT Team
At the start of a new quarter, a new year and a new decade, it’s understandable that businesses of all shapes and sizes might be looking towards their goals for the future. They may think about how they want to boost sales, increase brand awareness and cultivate a better relationship with their customers on social channels. And while these goals are all admirable and achievable, it’s much harder to accomplish them without an engaged, motivated and enthusiastic workforce.
87% of senior business leaders believe that one of the biggest threats they face is their employees becoming disengaged. As hard as you may try to create a dynamic working environment and a vibrant, welcoming company culture, the issue of employee engagement still needs to be addressed directly.
With the right tools you can inspire, motivate and incentivise employees to achieve great things. But how realistic is it to create your own?
What is an employee engagement tool?
An employee engagement tool can take many forms, depending on your business’ operational parameters and your intended engagement goals for your workforce. In most cases, an employee engagement tool takes the form of an online platform and/or mobile app which can be used to share and celebrate employee achievement and help your workforce to feel like your success is their success.
These tools might also include regular surveys to monitor employee satisfaction and help businesses to glean a better understanding of what their employees expect of them.
In some cases, these engagement tools can also be linked to a reward gateway for financial incentives or time off work, although most businesses find that their employees value recognition above all.
Benefits of employee engagement tools
While an employee engagement tool can take virtually any form you desire, it’s safe to say that you need to have some way to recognise employees’ contributions and keep them engaged with their jobs and your brand. Given that 85% of employees either don’t feel engaged (or feel actively disengaged) at work, it’s safe to say that implementing tools that create highly engaged and motivated employees should be a priority for businesses of all kinds.
It’s a simple fact that employees who feel more engaged with their work and their employers are more productive. And when employees are more productive, businesses are more profitable. Indeed businesses with higher employee engagement rates enjoy 22% greater profitability.
What’s more, businesses that invest in the tools to engage and motivate employees enjoy a 31% lower voluntary turnover rate than those who leave employee engagement to chance.
Designing and implementing an employee engagement tool may well be worth avoiding the cost and disruption associated with replacing and training new employees to rid of the disengaged.
Communicating your needs to your IT team
Of course, developing an engagement tool to motivate your team members brings its own set of challenges.
First and foremost, you’ll need to know exactly what you expect from a tool/platform. You’ll need to know what features it will need to have and how its use will make employees feel valued and engaged.
Do you simply want a platform for creating, sharing and gathering data from employee engagement surveys? Or do you want something that looks and feels more like a social platform? Do you want it to integrate with an existing rewards gateway or feed into employees’ professional development files?
You’ll need to have a clear idea not just of how you want it to look on a desktop and mobile device screen but how its UX will be intuitive and satisfying for employees to use.
Know what you want before you ask your team for it
When you have a clear plan and know exactly what features your tool needs to have and how it needs to function, only then should you approach your IT team to talk about the logistics of designing, developing and implementing it.
They will be able to look over your designs and advise you as to what is feasible and what isn’t. Keep in mind that unless you have IT staff who are Agile or Scrum trained, developing a software application can be a slow and iterative process. It may take a long time until you are presented with anything that even remotely resembles the idea that you had in mind.
If at first you don’t succeed
You should be prepared to go back and forth with your IT team as they work hard to implement your vision while still managing their own daily duties. Outsourcing some aspects of development may be advantageous so as not to overstretch your own team, but some may harbour a desire to keep the development of your tool strictly “in-house”.
As managers and their IT teams are drawn back to the drawing board time and time again, it’s important to avoid getting frustrated and recognise that this is a necessary part of the process.
Can’t someone else do it? The benefits of ready-made tools
The collaboration between management and IT staff can become strained when developing an employee engagement tool together. While many IT professionals have some impressive coding knowledge, most IT teams are not app developers by nature or by grade. As such, they may grow frustrated with the process of translating managers’ desired functions into an application that’s accessible to employees and easily integrated into existing systems.
And when tense emails go back and forth, managers may ask themselves “can’t someone else do it?”. The good news is that yes, yes they can.
There is already a thriving market for employee engagement tools which are ready to use “out of the box” and can be implemented on a company-wide scale quickly and cost-effectively. Many of these platforms look and feel just like the social platforms employees use in their spare time and so feel familiar and welcoming while improving employee engagement rather than creating a distraction.
Because these tools can often be highly customisable and interfaces can be tweaked in line with branding and goals, they are easy to integrate into any system and workflow.
This begs the question of whether it’s really worth investing the time, effort and frustration that comes with developing your own tool from scratch. The good news is that many of these employee engagement tools have free trials that can be downloaded so that managers can get a feel for them prior to implementation.
By all means, choose for yourself… but you may find that starting from scratch creates more problems than it solves.