A Buyer’s Guide To Choosing The Best Culture Management and Employee Experience Solutions For Your Company

November 11, 2022

Use this buyer’s guide to pick the right culture management and employee experience solutions for your organization

You want your company to be a great place for people to work together. You are focused on establishing an environment that helps your employees contribute to their full potential. You and your leadership understand the business benefit in cultivating a great work culture: seeing sustained, high-performance across teams.  You know your company culture should permeate everything you do, from your hiring selection process and onboarding experiences to client engagement to employee development and beyond. You are ready and excited to build an amazing work culture.

Yet as you survey the dozens of fragmented tools your company is using to manage its culture you think: there has to be a better and more affordable way. It’s time to find a culture management suite that bundles the software your organization needs into a central system.

There’s one big obstacle standing in your way, however: deciding what Culture Management Software is best for you. There are many types of solutions under the Culture Management umbrella.

The array of software that lends value to some aspect of work culture is vast. You’re probably feeling overwhelmed. You may be worried you are going to have to string together a series of fragmented tools. And so many buzzwords: employee engagement, employee experience, performance management, people management, people analytics, etc. Where do you start?

Every company, every team, and every culture is unique. We built this Culture Management Software Buyer’s Guide to save you time, help you determine the right questions to ask, and help you make the best possible decision for cultivating your work culture and supporting the unique needs of your company.

This Culture Management Software Buyer’s Guide includes:

Who Should Buy Culture Management Software?

Culture management software is for companies committing to their culture. These are companies that understand good work culture is critical to the long term performance and business outcomes of the company. These organizations may have tried consultants (expensive) or homegrown mechanisms (tedious) in the past. Sometimes these are small businesses that are growing and want to get ahead of scaling a healthy culture. And sometimes these are remote-heavy companies needing to build more cohesion. Regardless, these companies are aware that software will help them manage their culture.    

One of the biggest mistakes growing companies make is assuming cultivating the culture can come later. As if there is actually a day when things slow down and everyone can simply gather around to make the business a great place to work! One of the smartest aspects of leveraging culture management software when your company is just hitting 20 people is the software will help set and scale a great culture. It’s much easier to adopt healthy habits at earlier stages with smaller teams.

Each company needs someone to serve as the culture manager. This is the person responsible for overseeing the establishment of an environment that helps people contribute and collaborations run at full potential. In small companies, this will be a part-time role. In big companies, this will be the head of a department focused on employees (like a Chief People Officer). This person needs to be involved in the selection of the culture management software that fits their organization’s needs while being easy for them to manage.

If you’re a Chief People Officer or Chief Culture Officer…

…culture management software can help you implement effective measures to develop culture throughout your company and gain real-time insight into your employee performance metrics.

If you’re in HR leadership at a company

…culture management software can help you augment your HR system with a software solution that gives you a deeper understanding of how employees are working together, as well as the ability to help your hr team troubleshoot potential conflicts.

If you’re a CEO of a growing company

…culture management software can help you make sure your company and your people are measurably ready for the change ahead, as well as improve your talent management and attraction as you grow.

If you’re a startup leader with all things people and culture landing on your plate…

…culture management software can help you implement the infrastructure for a great culture that scales with your company and provides a management solution to move work off of your overloaded plate.

If you’re a team leader overseeing remote employees…

…culture management software can help you develop a strong culture despite the distance, as well as connect with your team members and have better insight into their specific needs.

11 Key Questions to Guide Your Evaluation when Buying Culture Management Software

You’ve decided to implement Culture Management Software to help develop and grow your culture.  You know culture is a critical component of your overall organization.  It impacts everything from employee attraction and retention, to productivity and competitiveness in the market.  It even makes a difference to your bottom line. With this much at stake, selecting a Culture Management Software that is right for your company is vital.

At the same time, however, “culture” seems to be a buzzword attached to just about everything these days.  How do you determine what Culture Management Software actually provides what you need for your organization?  Here are 11 key questions to ask as you evaluate potential solutions:

1. How much time do I have to set things up?

You are already swamped with work and a lengthy to-do list. The last thing you need is a complicated integration process for a tool that’s meant to make things simpler.  Culture Management Software should make building your culture a breeze, not a headache! Look for solutions that are basically turnkey, with customizable options already built into the system and a user-friendly setup process.  

2. How much technical work am I willing to do?

While every company should have someone who serves as the culture manager, that person shouldn’t have to be a rocket scientist (unless he or she is the culture manager for NASA). The Culture Management Software you select should automate most, if not all, of the processes you need.  Good Culture Management Software should provide you with rich, accessible data already configured to your needs, so you can focus your energy and time on other areas of your business, instead of hiking through the technical weeds.

3. What other tools will I need to connect to make this work?

Will the Culture Management Software you’re considering require a specific platform in order to work, or is it usable with the tools and platforms you’re already using?  Ideally, the Culture Management Software you select should interface easily with tools that are already part of your company’s toolkit.

4. What are the hidden fees?

When you’re developing and strengthening your company culture, you want to be focused on the big picture, not the nickels and dimes of hidden fees. A lot of Culture Management Software comes with the upsell of consulting services. A survey of most venture-backed culture tools show that these companies make 40-50% of their revenue through consulting services. They won’t advertise this on their pricing page (and it’s likely why they don’t offer a pricing page to begin with!).

Look for Culture Management Software that has straightforward pricing, preferably per person so it can scale with your team.  Building a great culture requires transparency; look for Culture Management Software that offers the same.

5. Do the outcomes of this software align with what my company needs?

The most engaging user experience in the entire world isn’t valuable to you or your team if it doesn’t deliver the outcomes you need.  Make sure the Culture Management Software you select is designed to deliver and manage the actual components of culture-building that you want to strengthen and measure.

6. What’s my budget?

Good Culture Management Software should fall somewhere between making your own email survey with a spreadsheet and a multi-year engagement with a consultant.  Does the Culture Management Software lock you into a long-term contract?  Does the Software require you to purchase bells and whistles you’ll never use or that don’t apply to your particular organization?  Look for Culture Management Software that is cost-effective and is pay per person so it can scale with your company.

7. Will the IT department hate it?

Your company’s IT department safeguards your organization from digital threats, while keeping your team’s technical needs running smoothly.  The Culture Management Software you select should pass muster with your IT department in terms of security, but also interface smoothly with the existing systems IT oversees.  Look for Culture Management Software that truly respects data privacy and follows GDPR guidance for privacy. Examine the Culture Management Software’s privacy standards and hopefully a statement on the parent company’s ethics. Because Culture Management Software that keeps the IT department happy, is Culture Management Software that helps everyone.  

8. Will my people actually use it?

It’s one thing to bring in a shiny new tool; it’s another to get your team to adopt it.  If Culture Management Software is seen as more (and tedious) work, you’ve just piled more undesired obligations on top of your team.  Excellent Culture Management Software is engaging, fun, even inspiring.  Effective Culture Management Software does not add a noticeable workload; instead, it helps decrease the need for many of those meetings that “could’ve been an email” from the beginning.  Plus, if your team enjoys using the software, you’ll get better results overall.

8. How will I know if it’s making an impact?

Speaking of results, make sure the Culture Management Software you select actually makes a difference. Look for Culture Management Software that delivers outcomes that are quantifiable and measurable. The Culture Management Software also needs to provide people analytics along with a view on how the culture is performing from the aggregated data. You can’t improve what you can’t measure.

Make sure the Culture Management Software you select helps you establish a baseline early in the adoption. You want to know the effort you are putting into developing your culture is actually improving your culture.

9. Does it provide value to other departments or parties in my company?

A new tool that has multipurpose uses for a variety of departments brings added value to your organization.  Great Culture Management Software benefits not just your team, but other aspects of the business.  Look for Culture Management Software that helps HR with people management, improves your recruiting efforts, strengthens alignment and communication across departments, and can even track impact to the bottom line.

10. What types of support does the solution offer?

You’re already looking for Culture Management Software that is user-friendly and easy to set up, but what happens down the road if things get bumpy?  Make sure the Culture Management Software you select has two kinds of support available:  technical and tactical.

On the technical side, look for Culture Management Software that offers 24/7 support free with the system.  Ideally, you want technical support that is hands-on and driven to solve your problem, not just close your support ticket.

On the tactical side, look for Culture Management Software that offers support across the spectrum of workplace culture. Look for accompanying resources that provide robust guidance, foundational research, and real-world advice for improving common problems in cultivating culture.  Ideally, you want Culture Management Software that also connects you to a suite of external consultants able to address deeply entrenched, unique challenges if needed.

11: Can we try it before we buy it?

If this is your first Culture Management Software, you’re going to want to get a sense of how it feels and how it integrates with the day-to-day routine of your team.  If it’s not your first Culture Management Software, you’re still going to want to kick the proverbial tires and take it for a test drive before committing to it long-term.  Your culture is one of the most important parts of your business, so you want your Culture Management Software to be an amazing fit. Look for Culture Management Software that lets you try out the full system–not just one or two features–before you buy.

The 10 Most Important Culture Management Software Features to Look For

1. Integration options

While it may have its own dashboard, really good Culture Management Software integrates with the communication software your organization is already using, like Slack or Microsoft Teams.  If your team is already used to communicating in one platform, don’t add the friction of moving them onto yet another platform.  

2. Lean in vs homework

Good Culture Management Software adds to your positive experience of work; it doesn’t detract.  Look for Culture Management Software that is not just easy to use, but a system your team members really enjoy using.  It should be engaging and spark creativity and even some fun competition among your team.  It should also be inclusive, accessible, and welcoming to all users.

3. Does it measure improvement?

Look for Culture Management Software that is able to quantify and measure key markers of culture within your organization.  It should keep a pulse on how your team collaborates and with what frequency.  Ideally, your Culture Management Software should give you insight into how your team performs overall, as well as insight into individual communication styles.  

4. Does it cultivate culture?

Measuring is one thing, improving is another.  Good Culture Management Software should not just assess your culture, but give you clear guidance for how to improve the communication, collaboration, and ultimately culture of your organization.  Look for Culture Management Software that offers tools and applications to help strengthen the way your team works together.

5. Does it scale?

It’s important to lay the groundwork for cultivating your culture as early as possible in your company.  It’s also important that culture scale with your organization as you grow.  Look for Culture Management Software that can expand from the early startup stage all the way to formidable Fortune 500 corporation.  Good Culture Management Software will help you establish a culture for a small team and adjust that culture at every milestone of growth, negotiating possible pitfalls.  The way a team of 20 communicates changes dramatically when that team expands to 40 or 80 or 120 employees. Make sure you select Culture Management Software that can accommodate and grow with you (and has per person pricing for added flexibility)!

6. Is it easy to use for you as a manager?

Good Culture Management Software Platforms helps you manage better and is your (not so) secret weapon for building a resilient team.  Look for Culture Management Software that easily gives you both team and individual insight in real-time through a clear dashboard.  You want Culture Management Software that provides tangible data as to both your team’s strengths and weaknesses, along with tools and strategies to improve the challenging areas.

7. Is it all-in-one?

The last thing you need is piecemeal, scattered Culture Management Software Platforms or a system that helps with one small component of communication but not the whole culture!   Look for Culture Management Software that covers the wide array of culture-building elements and rolls all of those modules up into one dashboard that is easy to manage.

8. Do you have to talk to a salesperson to get a price?

You’re buying Culture Management Software, not mapping the human brain (unless, of course, mapping the human brain is your actual business). Look for Culture Management Software that has straightforward pricing and doesn’t involve jumping through hoops or talking to a salesperson to get a quote.  

9. Is it a turnkey system that offers a free trial?

When you want to test something, you want to test it now.  Look for Culture Management Software that lets you take the whole system for a test drive before committing to the system long-term.  Good Culture Management Software lets you kick the tires and verify it really is as enticing and data-rich as it claims.  

10. Is it secure?

Lastly, look for Culture Management Software that has security and respect for data privacy as top priority.  Good Culture Management Software does not access your sensitive information to begin with.  It listens for cadence–not content–in how your team communicates and protects your proprietary and individual information at all costs.

Next Steps to Launching Your Culture Management Software Platform

We hope that this Culture Management Software Buyer’s Guide has helped you get a better handle on your search for Culture Management Software.  Now that you’ve read through this Buyer’s Guide, what are the next steps?

To get started, we recommend:

Congratulations on taking the first steps toward creating a culture where people work better together!

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