Top 10 apps to keep employees engaged during COVID-19

Highly engaged workplaces are 22% more profitable and have 41% lower absenteeism, which is why leading organisations treat employee engagement as a business metric. They know that a happy workplace where employees feel valued, challenged, and satisfied will benefit from higher levels of motivation and increased productivity.

Even more importantly, employee engagement is the key to retaining top talent: one in three professionals leave their jobs because they simply get bored.

How can an HR manager shift the dial on employee engagement?

Near-term strategies for HR to improve employee engagement could include:

  • Measure, improve, then measure again. Conduct frequent pulse surveys to gauge employee engagement.
  • Create or re-launch your organisation’s overall core values or mission to drive cultural improvement.
  • Ensure employees feel listened to by establishing a feedback system.
  • Identifying and addressing disengagement hotspots caused by managers and providing engagement training to those managers.
  • Arrange volunteering days, charity drives and inclusive work outings to help foster relationships (once COVID-19 social distancing restrictions are lifted).
  • Launch a wellness initiative focusing on both physical and mental health in the workplace. Ensure the physical environment is as pleasant as possible (a few indoor plants can make a world of difference). Wellness initiatives should be applicable to those working in home offices too.
  • Prioritise recognition and reward achievement.

Longer-term strategies include making your onboarding process as good as it can be, ensuring employees have a clearly defined career path with genuine professional development opportunities to work towards, identifying and addressing inefficient, frustrating or boring processes, and encouraging flexible and remote working (hello, COVID-19).

There’s an app for that!

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Luckily, we live in the age of the smartphone. Engagement apps are an increasingly popular, affordable and easy solution for streamlining employee engagement. They are also the natural channel for increasing engagement in the mobile first age.

From onboarding to team communication, employee recognition, learning and development and employee surveys, here are 10 apps that can help modern HR managers supercharge employee engagement and create a happier digital workplace.


Team communication hubs don’t need to be boring. There’s no reason that an online collaboration platform, such as Blink and Slack (see below), should be any less engaging than, say, a Facebook account. Great communication hubs (and their apps) should have the same elements as social media: the ability to connect with people, chat with others (in groups or one-on-one), make video and audio calls, share documents, images, and videos. While comms hubs are designed to help teams – and remote teams in particular – get work done, don’t underestimate the importance of online banter for improving employee engagement.

1. Microsoft Teams

Part of the Office 365 suite of apps, Microsoft Teams is a unified communication and collaboration platform. It allows everyone within an organisation to chat, meet, call, share files and collaborate all in one place, regardless of where they’re located. Users can schedule both video and audio meetings with individuals, small groups and even host large events and webinars for up to 10,000 attendees.

The app allows users to store files online and is customisable so teams within an organisation can communicate through instant messaging, online meetings, calls and web conferencing. Through its collaboration tool, users can work on files within Office 365 apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Sharepoint. Additional features include assistant bots, conversation and contact search functionality; and seamless integration with Skype, GitHub, Microsoft Office, Power BIU, Trello, Planner and more.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • While free with basic chat and collaboration functionality, additional features for businesses come with an Office 365 monthly subscriptions starting at $17.20 per month.

2. Blink

Blink’s employee intranet and app was developed with the dual goal of improving employee engagement and helping people do their jobs. The app features four pillars: The Feed which shows top-down internal comms, Chat (peer-to-peer communication), Directory (to find and connect with others), and the Hub (which gives access to documents and forms). Marketed as “more than an internal communications app”, Blink digitises paper-based processes such as swapping shifts and booking holidays.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • Prices start at $3.40 per person, per month. Blink offers a free trial.


Great onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%, yet 88% of organisations drop their game when it comes to it. Modern onboarding apps can be used to transform the focus from processes and paperwork to make onboarding a truly engaging experience for employees in their crucial first 90-or-so days.

3. BambooHR Onboarding

BambooHR is an all-in-one HR system that includes everything from applicant tracking to payroll. Its employee onboarding component is designed to “set your people up for success from the start” by creating better first days for new hires. The app is designed to improve new starter engagement, improve time-to-productivity for new hires, and facilitate personal connections. The system automatically sends customisable onboarding tasks to new hires to complete at their own pace, while making sure the boring stuff (IT set up and the usual paperwork) is done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • Contact BambooHR for a free trial and quote.


Forty percent of employees who receive poor training or have limited career opportunities leave their job within five years. Learning and development (L&D) is therefore recognised as a key booster for employee engagement. But L&D needn’t involve team members sitting in a training room listening to an uninspiring corporate trainer. App-based learning can be cheaper, more scalable, and more engaging for employees.

4. TalentLMS

One of the most popular Learning Management Systems, TalentLMS, enables businesses to build their own training programs or access an online library of training courses. It offers blended learning options (instructor-led or self-service eLearning), certifications, videoconferencing, learning paths, an assessment engine and reporting tools. TalentLMS uses gamification and microlearning, two techniques that have been shown to boost engagement and productivity.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • Prices range from free for up to 5 users to $429 per month for up to 1000 users.

5. Udemy for business

Udemy’s model curates content from a marketplace of over 130,000 courses to enable app-based, on-demand learning for employees. HR can use the platform to monitor and measure learning engagement and managers can create outcome-based custom learning plans for employees using Udemy’s Learning Paths.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • Prices start at around $400 per user, per year for a team of up to 20 users.


While it’s important to track employee engagement through surveys, the catch-22 here is that employees can become disengaged by having to complete too many of them. User-friendly survey apps are designed to avoid survey fatigue by measuring engagement in a fun and efficient manner.

6. TINYPulse

This feedback-based tool offers “employee pulsing” to increase communication and transparency, improve and measure your culture, reduce company turnover, and visualise what is driving engagement, productivity and turnover. TINYPulse includes a “Cheers for Peers” recognition and reward feature.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • Contact TINYPulse to request pricing.

7. Glint

Glint’s employee engagement module can be used to send pulse surveys, then present the information in interactive employee engagement dashboards with results specific to roles. It includes a heat map, driver impact, KPI linkage, and an “early warning system” that uses predictive analytics to tell HR when employees are at risk of attrition or decreased performance. Finally, Glint provides each manager with recommended focus areas and action plans based on the pulse survey results for their teams.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • Contact Glint to request pricing.

8. Peakon

An employee survey platform built specifically for measuring and improving employee engagement, Peakon surveys employees, analyses their feedback and provides HR will real-time insights to help them take action. The “Improve” area provides managers with bespoke training to help them respond to employee feedback and successfully increase team engagement. The platform enables users to plan, track and measure the impact of employee engagement initiatives.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • Contact Peakon to request pricing.


9. Bonusly

Bonusly is a recognition and rewards platform that takes employee appreciation beyond the usual written or verbal kudos. Employees have a monthly allowance of points to award each other to recognise their contributions. The points appear in a public feed so that everyone can see important work being done and top contributors. Once enough points have been collected, employees can purchase a tangible gift from a rewards catalogue.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • Prices start at around $7.50 per user, per month for the “Core” plan.

10. Teamphoria

Teamphoria’s employee recognition software helps HR ensure employees feel valued and appreciated. Anyone can send digital high-fives using four award levels – silver, gold, platinum, and group. Points are attached to each reward to create a top performer leaderboard.

  • Available on iPhone and Android.
  • Free (with limited features) for up to five users.

If there was ever a time for HR to invest in employee engagement apps, the coronavirus crisis is it. With office employees everywhere working from home – and many for the first time – driving engagement and positivity remotely can only be successful with the help of technology that boosts communication, amplifies team culture, and rewards and recognises great work in trying times.

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