When we built Swell to help companies measure employee engagement, we had technology companies and engineering teams in mind. Technology companies already leverage observability platforms to monitor every aspect of their servers and services. We thought we could take a similar approach to observability with employee engagement as the primary metric.
Observability is critical in helping technology companies and software engineering teams understand both what is happening and why it’s happening. Observability also helps you understand not only if services are performing, but also how they are performing. Because systems are becoming increasingly complex, and customers are relying on your service to be available, reliable, and functional, it’s important for you to catch potential issues before they fully manifest, and to quickly resolve issues when they do.
Observability platforms like Datadog, New Relic, and Splunk are incredible tools to help you understand all aspects of your technology stack. They provide dashboards that describe the health and performance of your services, and allow you to dive deeper into traces that help you discover potential bottlenecks, and opportunities for improvement.
They also allow you to track deployments to see if certain changes had positive or negative effects, and to setup alerts and health checks so you can be warned when potential issues arise.
Observability and Employee Engagement
While reliable services are incredibly important to the success of your company, every manager will tell you that it’s your employees that make the difference and set you apart from your competitors. However, managers have traditionally had very limited visibility into their employee engagement. In the past, annual reviews provided opportunity for feedback only once a year. One-on-ones have become a more popular management paradigm, but these can often be unstructured and subjective. A recent development has been monitoring platforms that can be extremely intrusive and very unfriendly to employees. These platforms actually don’t tell you anything about employee engagement, and worse, can make your employees feel like they’re being surveilled constantly.
Swell’s Approach to Employee Engagement
We wanted to model our product on the observability platforms, but we also wanted to center it on the employee experience. Unlike the observability platforms, we obviously can’t ping your employees every 30 seconds to make sure they’re engaged, but we can find ways to give them the opportunity to provide more continuous feedback.
Swell plugs in to Slack, where your team is already working and collaborating, so your employees aren’t distracted with an additional app to open or an email to remember. Swell also allows you to check-in more frequently than traditional pulse surveys so you can see trends and understand how specific events or changes have affected those trends. This allows for a true pulse of your employees, rather than an infrequent point-in-time measurement of engagement.
Benefits for Technology Companies and Engineering Teams
Because technology companies and engineering teams are already accustomed to these tools and the observability mindset, Swell’s approach is a natural fit. It’s clearly unreasonable to monitor employees in the same way that you monitor servers, but gathering more feedback and data while maintaining a light touch will give you a much clearer picture of how engaged your team is.
By watching these trends, you can get a sense for issues before they manifest, and have the opportunity to address them before they fester. Similarly if you see something that’s working, it gives you the opportunity to reinforce or double down on those initiatives.
An engaged and happy team is a productive one. More importantly, and engaged team creates a strong team culture that fosters collaboration, improves your product, and increases your employee retention. As you continue to strengthen and build up your most valuable resource - your employees - your product and company will reap the benefits.