Employee recognition

10 Tips for Selecting Employee Recognition Software

Vanessa Kahn
October 17, 2023
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The sky is blue, 1+1=2, and employees need to be recognized. Stating the obvious is easy, finding the right employee recognition platform for your organization is much harder. So, what is the perfect tool to solve for employee engagement, retention, and productivity? 

The bad news: It’s not that simple: it depends on your company and your employees. 

The good news: We’re going to share 10 tips that will help you make the best possible buying decision for your organization's needs. Queue the confetti! 🎉

--> Before we jump into the tips, download this
vendor comparison matrix that we will be referencing throughout this article. This tool is free and will serve as your compass throughout your vendor selection journey. 

hr vendor

Without further ado, here are 10 tips for selecting a peer-to-peer employee recognition tool that will meet the needs of your employees and help your business thrive.

Selecting Employee Recognition Software: 10 Tips 

1. Gather your information and create your vendor consideration set

The first step to selecting a solution is creating a list of vendors to consider. We recommend keeping this list between 3-5 vendors within the employee recognition and rewards market so you can select from multiple options without entering information overload territory. 

Once you’ve narrowed down a list of vendors to assess, make sure you run an analysis of not only what the vendors have to say about themselves, but also what their customers, employees, and partners have to say about them. You can aggregate your findings into an overall reputation score in your vendor comparison matrix. The reputation score will become one of the inputs for your composite score for each vendor. Here are a few resources we’d recommend you check out for every vendor you assess. 

  • Review sites like G2 and Capterra: Pull overall ratings for each vendor you consider and plug it into your vendor comparison matrix. You can even filter reviews by industry and company size to read a catered selection of reviews that can speak directly to the challenges and priorities of companies like yours!
  • Reddit and Quora: If you’re looking for honest opinions and advice, look no further than forums  like Reddit and Quora. Try searching for the name of the vendor you’re considering, or more generally, “Rewards and recognition program recommendations” and unlock unbiased opinions.
  • Glassdoor: To understand what it’s like working with a rewards and recognition company, you may want to understand what it’s like working for them. After all, employee satisfaction is correlated with customer satisfaction

2. Don’t select an employee recognition vendor in a vacuum

Call us old school, but one of the best ways to get product information is simply to ask your community. You’re likely not the first in your professional cohort to purchase a rewards and recognition solution, so you can borrow from past HR trailblazers’ learnings and expertise!  

Vendor analysis can be daunting and you don’t have to do it alone! Enlist a cross-departmental committee of employees that exemplify your company’s culture and core values. Ask them to attend the vendor calls and rate each solution based on your selection criteria. This committee can also serve as champions for the product you select in their respective departments ensuring adoption and engagement with your new tool! 


3. Keep your information organized and data-driven 

Before engaging with vendors, establish a plan for each conversation. Define your goals, questions, and desired product capabilities. Plus, by determining a standard set of questions and criteria for each vendor, you are set up to conduct an unbiased vendor assessment. Make sure you outline your top three most important criteria and then rate each vendor you speak to on a scale of 1-5 for each line item. That way, once you’re done speaking to each vendor you’ll have composite scores that will lead to a more productive selection discussion. 

4. Set benchmarks and measure success

Clearly define the business objectives you’re looking to impact by implementing an employee engagement solution. Don't be afraid to ask vendors how they’ll partner with you to reach your goals. Here are a few metrics we’d recommend benchmarking before and after implementing a recognition program—we think you’ll be surprised (in a good way) by the results: 

Speaking of time saved, the average Bonusly customer spends only 1.5 hours each month administering Bonusly.

time saved

5. Make sure you can measure success

Now that we’ve talked about benchmarks, let's talk about people analytics. Once you implement an employee recognition platform, you’ll need a way to track the efficacy of your program, understand how your team is connecting, and measure the impact on your company values. Make sure that you are asking about analytics capabilities and asking to see them on your demo call. 

6. Consider integrations

A recognition program is most effective when it saves your HR team time and is easy for your employees to use.

Both of these things can be true if, and only if, your employee recognition program integrates with your existing techstack. Ensure the tools you’re considering integrate with your chat, HRIS, and SSO tools. That way, employees don’t have to leave their existing workflows to give or receive recognition and HR teams save time administering rewards and recognition through HRIS automation. 

7. Prioritize usability

Speaking of usability, employees don’t use tools that are difficult to use—end of story. Every vendor you consider will tell you they are easy to use, so how can you determine if they actually are? 

First, peek behind the curtains by seeing whether the solution offers a free trial. This is a great way to experience the product’s capabilities first-hand and identify any feature gaps early on. Experiencing the product directly also helps you ask the right questions on your vendor calls. Once you’re done with your free trial, search G2 and Capterra reviews for the words “usability” and “easy to use” and see what customers have to say. 

--> Bonusly prioritizes usability and accessibility in our product and our users continuously give us top marks for ease of use. 

8. Ask the right questions

Do not be afraid to ask vendors questions! These questions will help you make a better buying decision. Sometimes the non-answers from vendors tell you just as much as the answers they provide. If you’re not getting a clear answer from the vendor, that might be a red flag. 🚩

Here are 10 questions that are worth asking every recognition vendor you consider: 

  • Is your company SOC2 Type 2 certified? 
  • Can you describe the level of support and partnership your customer support team provides?  
  • What reports and tools are available to people managers to see how their team is doing?
  • Can you share the average user adoption as well as your definition of adoption? 
  • Can you share the average user participation as well as a definition of participation?
  • Does this software integrate with our existing tech stack?
  • Does it support our remote and/or hybrid work environment? 
  • What is the implementation/average time to launch? 
  • What is provided for support during onboarding? 
  • What are the best practices of a successful recognition program?

9. Get clear on cost and pricing structure

We couldn’t write a vendor selection article without addressing the fact that these tools cost money. It’s also a good idea to ask vendors about markups on employee rewards and implementation costs. Pricing shouldn’t be a secret and if it is, you should be skeptical! Bonusly wears our pricing on our sleeve so you know exactly what to budget for. You can also play around with our rewards budgeting calculator to model different scenarios depending on how much budget you plan to give to each employee at your organization.

10. Don’t be scared to ask for a reference

If you’re narrowing down your consideration set and you’re between two vendors, it could be a great time to ask for a customer reference. If you need a stellar customer reference request email template, we have you covered

The takeaway

We hope you feel more equipped to embark on your journey to selecting employee recognition software for a more engaged and successful business. 🥂

If you’d like to include Bonusly in your consideration set (and we think you should) you can schedule a demo with one of our employee engagement experts to learn more about how Bonusly can help you create connected, motivated, high-performing teams!

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