Driving Employee Engagement With an HR Product

My friend asked me the other day, “What do you think about when trying to build software?”

“You, mostly,” I replied.

Puzzled, she asked me to explain, and so I did.

Product management comes down to one crucial process: how you approach the problem.

In the academic realm of the social and behavioral sciences, emic and etic refer to two approaches to field research. Emic is the perspective from within the social group, and etic represents the perspective from the outside, or that of the observer.

Your work is bigger than you and our solution is to make sure you never forget Click To Tweet

So wait — what does this have to do with product management or Reflektive? Well, everything…

Every problem, no matter how big or small, has these two perspectives nestled inside. The one from within, and the one from outside.

Applied to today’s talent crisis, there are two common narratives that describe the issue:

  1. Companies don’t know how to retain and engage their talent.
  2. Talent desperately wants to be engaged, recognized, and rewarded.

The solution seems simple: engage, recognize, and reward the talent. But, the thing is, in companies of hundred, thousands, hundreds of thousands of people — where do you even begin?

We want both companies and their respective people to be successful, but their needs differ vastly.

Thus, we approach these issues just as any social scientist might — we live it, we learn from it, and we keep innovating, simultaneously from the inside and the outside.

From the Inside: Employees First

We think selfishly. We are employees ourselves, so we make tools we want to use. We design, implement, and test tools that make us feel recognized and valued. We think of our dilemmas first because chances are we have felt undervalued at some point in our careers.

We are employees ourselves, so we make tools we want to use.

Once, I completed a project and my manager never replied nor told me how it could have been improved. I wish this person would have thanked me or mentioned it in a meeting where it was later presented and successfully implemented. Moments like these fueled the idea of the Recognition Wall, where real-time feedback and recognition are posted for the entire company — where you discover everyone’s hard work in a unified source of truth.

Think of a deliverable you were proud of, and your manager may not have thanked you afterwards. And, think of how you wish you were recognized. These are the concerns that stick with people, and that is why we built a tool to address this very issue.

As product managers, we think of where we work. We think of the tools that require us to never leave our creative flows. That is where we want to jot down ideas, goals for our career and thank the people who help us most. Your natural workspace is where we want you to do your best work.

Our goal is to engage you, not distract or deter you from what matters most.

Remember the time you really appreciated a coworker’s late-night email to deliver a slide deck, and you want to thank them, but the thought of logging into another system at the end of the day was tiresome. That’s why we built a tool right in your email so you can thank them, and still close your laptop for well-deserved rest and regeneration. Our goal is to engage you, not distract or deter you from what matters most — like proof of those impressive deliverables.

We think of purpose — we want your work to matter to you. We want you to have tools that not just show your peers and boss how great you are — but highlight your growth over time.

I remember my first job and not understanding how my projects impacted the company’s overall strategy; I felt lost and unsure of my value. This feeling of misunderstanding led us to create goals, OKRs, and team and company goals, so you are never unsure of how your work matters. We want you to see how your goals positively impact those around you and your company. So when you log in, the map to success is right there, beautiful and digestible. Your work is bigger than you and our solution is to make sure you never forget.

From the Outside: Upper Management, Human Resources and Leadership

We think of the long game — just like you. We think of how you want to instill strategies that will inspire your people, but you haven’t discovered exactly what that might be yet, because you don’t exactly know where to get this information. Or if the information will be transparent enough because your people don’t have an anonymous pathway to tell you. We want you to get the right data in alignment with both the employee’s and your needs. That’s why we built a system that employees want to use, so the data is up to date and transparent — helping drive the right business decisions for your people.

The hidden talent you haven’t discovered because they’re far too humble to self-promote — that’s what we think of because we want to find them as much as you do.

We think about all the stuff you don’t see but wish you could. The kind gesture that an employee demonstrated, which embodied the organization’s values. The collaboration a team did to meet a deadline. The hidden talent you haven’t discovered because they’re far too humble to self-promote — that’s what we think of because we want to find them as much as you do.

So when one asks, well what does a product manager think of when creating a system of engagement? The answer is that most often we think about you – from both the outside and inside.

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