Culture and Engagement Apps: How to Find the Best Fit For Your Organization

by Chris Cancialosi

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve probably noticed there are no shortage of applications out there offering relief from your people-related woes. These apps offer everything from employee engagement to company culture, to stakeholder communications and pulse surveying and peer feedback in order to solve a wide breadth of people-related challenges in your organization.

But, where to start? If you are a business leader who has taken on the task of trying to identify the right tools for your organization, you no doubt came to the realization that there are an endless number of app companies that want to pitch you.

The hurdle for many business leaders in trying to solve these problems is determining which platform, or platforms, are best suited for their organization. And the total proliferation of apps claiming to solve all of your business pains only adds to the confusion.

I recently read a nice overview of the HR app market from The Starr Conspiracy Intelligence Unit. They did a fantastic job of providing a detailed review of the major players, and bucketing them into three categories: Recognition, wellness, or measurement. An overview like this is a great start, but let’s dig deeper into some key considerations to look for in a people-related tech solution for your team or organization.

What You Should Know Before Investing in an App

There are a lot of fantastic options out there to meet a wide variety of needs, and it can be quite overwhelming to figure out the most appropriate solution, or suite of solutions, for your organization. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Understand what you’re really trying to solve before searching for solutions. Doing the upfront evaluation work to determine if the app you are considering — or any app or tool available — can meet your organization’s needs may save you thousands of dollars and hours of headache.
  2. There is no silver bullet. Taking time to really understand the full functionality and what solutions each app provides is critical. No app does everything and deploying one won’t miraculously make everything in your organization better.
  3. Expect the vendor landscape to evolve. As new players enter the market and different tech solutions are validated by early adopters, you can expect a bit of volatility as those that successfully seat themselves as market leaders acquire smaller competitors and consolidate the space. This will mean that customers may have to live through the market shakeup that occurs as things mature.
  4. There may be deals to be found if you’re willing to be an early adopter. As new tech startups enter the market, those on a budget may be able to negotiate good terms in exchange for helping the vendor refine their products. But buyer beware, in these situations, you can likely expect the road to be bumpy as these vendors continue to add new functionality. This is likely more suited for smaller, startup situations than for established companies who are looking for a validated enterprise solution.
  5. Have a plan for what you’re going to do with the information. Collecting data, regardless of the method, can do more harm than good if you don’t plan on doing anything with it. Take time to understand how data is presented back to you via the application and be intentional about what actions you and your team will take with the data you collect.
  6. Be sure about alignment to your approach and organizational language. Implementing a new software application into an enterprise can be a monumental effort. There are many reasons for this, but for the purposes of these types of applications, it is imperative that the methodology behind the software is both valid and that it aligns with your approach to work.
  7. Be clear about the level of support the vendor is willing to provide during implementation and beyond. Taylor Wallace, co-founder of WeVue, a culture management app, adds, “We hear a lot of feedback from people who have tried to implement everything from enterprise social networks to online survey tools. There can often be quite a bit of confusion about roles and responsibilities (who owns what) and the extent to which the app vendor will support the company with actual implementation and sustainability.” Your vendor should have plenty to best practice data available illustrating how other organizations have successfully rolled out the solution and what potential challenges you should be aware of in the process.
  8. Make sure you’re willing to go the distance before you sound the starting pistol. “Getting feedback without acting on it is a terrible thing,” says Matt Hulett, chief product officer at TINYpulse, a Seattle-based employee engagement, and peer recognition platform. He strongly suggests that business leaders ask themselves if they’re honestly committed to shaping a culture of performance. Leaders should be prepared to change their communication style and their way of working based on the feedback that these tools provide.

Advances in technology in the last decade have afforded the opportunity to fundamentally change the way companies interact with their stakeholders. While time will tell how this new market evolves, and which companies stick around, we can’t deny that HR technology is forcing businesses to rethink how they engage with their employees and other stakeholders.

Will an app solve all of your company’s problems? No. But when these tech solutions are selected and deployed in alignment with your organizational culture and strategy, they can be powerful tools to rally your team, drive engagement, and collect the data necessary to drive meaningful change.


This article originally appeared on Forbes.