We Need Recognition! How Companies are Using Recognition, Coaching and Analytics to Engage Employees.

HR Tech, Talent Acquisition, Employee Experience, Workforce Management

August 2019 — By Nick Mignone

Harbor View recently attended the Human Capital Institute’s (HCI) leading annual conference.  HCI’s Engagement Conference in Denver, CO featured 40+ vendors with solutions related to the engagement industry. HR practitioners, operations managers and leaders gathered to answer key questions important to their talent strategy and organization as a whole:

  • Tell me again, what is employee engagement?
  • How is engagement measured and nurtured?
  • What solutions really work?

Three trends are driving innovation in employee engagement:

1. Employees Want to be Recognized 

People are rationing praise like there’s a shortage

Recognition fuels the employee experience which trickles down to customer experience.

One size doesn’t fit all as corporate decisions aren’t as effective with every division and locally branded solutions and surveys are necessary.


  • Some companies are still defining a “reward.”
  • Others have established virtual company gift shops using company currency.

Notable Transactions:

Nudge Rewards raised $9M in VC funding led by Jump Capital on August 16th, 2019

  • Nudge Rewards combines mobile technology, rewards and analytics to guide, measure, educate and reward employees.

Perkbox raised $18M in VC funding led by Draper Esprit on April 30th, 2019

  • Perkbox provides perks, including free food, discounts, movie tickets, etc. enabling employers to attract, engage and celebrate their employees’ work, while incentivizing their high performance.

2. Employees Want to be Coached

Coaching is so powerful and we’re just scratching the surface

Coaching as a perk – we are seeing coaching enter at lower levels (below manager) in the workforce as a perk that is now more available (and perhaps more impactful) than to just the Executives up in the C-Suite.

Two companies provided real life examples to two key questions:

  • How are employees coached and engaged in a dispersed workforce? One company highlighted its solution of a mentoring app that allows employees working from home but in the same area to connect over coffee. The app also allowed gas and food expenses to be tracked for reimbursement.
  • How are dynamic and evolving workforce demographics transferring knowledge?A company that described itself as having an older workforce with a recent inflow of younger millennial talent addressed this age gap with reverse mentoring. Allowing the newer generation to share topics of interest with the older generation.

Notable Transactions

CoachHub raised $7M in VC funding led by HV Holtznbrinck Ventures on August 15th, 2019

  • CoachHub’s cloud platform hosts a pool of 300+ coaches offering personalized coaching through a mobile interface.

BetterWorks raised another $20M in VC funding from Kleiner Perkins and Emergence Capital Partners on March 7th, 2019. The company has raised over $76M to date.

  • BetterWork’s software offers performance management programs that helps in goal alignment, feedback, coaching and development conversations to motivate a workforce, enabling enterprises to set, measure and cross-functionally align goals.

3. Employees Want to be Analyzed

Employers wish they had the same robustness and breadth of data on their talent that the public has on professional athletes

  • This may include performance metrics, coachability, strengths, weakness and relativity across a team.

We listened to how some companies are using surveys to find gaps in an individual’s skills based on their job role and high performers that were previously in the same role. This can be a mixture of both hard and soft skills necessary for development.

Career Arcing – the idea of career arcing is critical to career pathing and an employee’s understanding of their future in an organization. It can be done in two ways:

  1. Internal data – some companies are using a database of internal job codes and visual maps showing how groups of people either elevated or migrated to other departments.
    • Employers are able to effectively see and guide an employee’s career path, boosting retention and engagement. 
  2. External data – Some solutions are offering employees the ability to connect with external sources, like LinkedIn, which allow transparency into large data pools. This allows employees to identify key market skill gaps to address in pursuing their full potential both within their company today compared with employees at other firms.
    • This tool will prove valuable to employers as they will be able to see which of their employees are ready to move up, are at risk of leaving the company and which roles will be the hardest to replace based on integrated hiring data.

Contact us to learn more about these innovative trends for employee engagement in the HR Tech space. You can also connect with us at the HR Tech Conference in October 2019.