How to build a best-in-class employee engagement platform with Finch
The employment landscape is undergoing dramatic changes, and data integrations are crucial to keeping pace. But maintaining them in-house is a drain on your resources and a distraction from your core competencies. Here’s what to do instead.
Not so long ago, it seemed like all it took to earn a reputation for a great work environment was a few ping pong tables, some quirky seating arrangements, and a gourmet cafeteria. Then COVID-19 happened and the story changed dramatically.
Now, old standards have given way to new expectations about what it means to provide an exceptional workplace. For employee engagement platforms, it has been a clarion call, prompting innovative players to build next-generation platforms that solve the challenges employers face today and are predicted to face going forward.
One aspect of great platform design is integrations. They are foundational to best-in-class functionality and user experience, but not all approaches to integrations are created equal. In this blog post, we’ll cover how to approach integrations more efficiently and effectively, so you have greater bandwidth to focus on your platform’s core technologies and deliver a superior experience to your customers and their employees alike.
But first, let’s talk landscape
To understand how and why integrations are so important, we have to consider the current state of affairs. It likely goes without saying that COVID-19 and the concurrent social and political movements of the past few years have seismically changed aspects of our collective work life in ways that fundamentally impact how employers approach people management and employee engagement. Some of the most important include:
A shift in the power balance
We would be remiss not to mention what you probably already know: workers are quitting and switching jobs at record rates, or leaving the workforce entirely, and there are now more available jobs than there is talent to fill them. Experts don’t expect the tide to change anytime soon. While many employers are responding to the pressures by offering higher salaries and wages to new hires, an effective, longer-term strategy may be investing in a “sticky” workplace culture—one marked by regular, effective communication—that promotes employee retention.
The rise of remote and hybrid work models
Office closure mandates at the onset of the pandemic forced many employers to allow employees to work from home, and it seems employees have come to favor the arrangement. According to recent polls, 45% of full-time U.S. employees continue to work remotely all or some of the time, including 67% of office workers. Of them, 91% would like to work at least some of the time from home even after the pandemic fully subsides, with 30% disclosing that they are extremely likely to seek a different job if they lose their option to work remotely.
Another factor to consider is that remote and hybrid work models can mean fewer friends in the workplace, which can lead to weaker emotional ties and less social pressure to stay with a company. Moreover, without any geographical constraints, remote workers have a wider pool of employers and job opportunities to choose from, making it easier to find alternative work. As a consequence, employers who don’t develop viable solutions to manage, engage, and build connections among remote talent not only risk operational inefficiencies, they also risk losing valuable employees.
Higher DEI standards
As activists continue to bring renewed and revolutionary attention to issues of racial and gender justice, employers are being called on to look critically at their own diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and execute proactive, ongoing plans to remedy their gaps and shortcomings. Many, it seems, are heeding the call. A recent analysis of S&P 500 earnings calls found that CEOs have discussed DEI 658% more frequently since 2018, and 40% of organizations report having hired a DEI specialist, the majority of which were added to their rosters in the past year and a half. As a result, DEI initiatives will naturally extend to employee engagement strategies, including measures like surveying employees on DEI issues, tracking and analyzing measures of workplace diversity, and instituting inclusive career growth paths and coaching opportunities to ensure everyone has the same access to success.
An emphasis on mental wellness
The collective and individual trauma and stress employees have experienced in recent years has had a toll on their mental health, making it more clear than ever that employers can no longer afford, from an ethical or financial standpoint, to ignore the overall wellbeing of their workforce. As talking about and seeking help for mental health challenges becomes increasingly normalized, especially among younger generations of workers, employers are increasingly expected to not only provide resources and benefits to support employees in crisis but also cultivate an environment that supports employee mental health. According to one study, employers (and the employee engagement platforms that serve them) would be wise to focus on reducing job boredom and monotony, supporting employees’ work-life balance, improving workplace communication practices, and fostering connections and networks of support among colleagues and managers.
These trends and others have led thought leaders to call for a large-scale humanization of the workplace. Now more than ever, employers should create opportunities and leverage technology to drive connections, inspire creativity, and help individual workers achieve their potential.
The role (and challenges) of integrations in employee engagement
Clearly, this new world order presents a litany of challenges for employers, and employee engagement platforms are working to deliver best-in-class solutions and experiences that address those pain points.
For many employee engagement platforms, this includes integrating with employers’ HR and payroll systems (e.g., Workday, ADP, etc.) to automate data connectivity and unify data across disparate sources as a means of reducing friction and optimizing the performance of their product.
But integrations are not without challenges, especially if you choose to build them in-house. For starters:
It takes many engineering hours to build one integration, let alone the dozens or hundreds required to connect with systems in highly fragmented markets like HR and payroll software, where some 5,700+ systems have shares (check out our whitepaper on the landscape here). When you consider the average salary of an in-house developer, you’re looking at an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars, excluding the considerable and ongoing expense of maintaining integrations over time (a full-time job unto itself).
They’re a distraction
All that time spent on integrations is time your team isn’t spending on your core technology—a huge opportunity cost. How much more could you accomplish and how much faster could you get to market if your team’s attention wasn’t split between your product and the ancillary technologies that support it?
They’re hard to do really well
If integrations aren’t in your team’s wheelhouse, your integrations are likely not functioning as well as they could be. That’s because different data sources have different data models, and each source value has to be mapped to a target data field to make it operable for your system. The more source values you’re working with, the more complicated things get, and if mapping is not done correctly, it can end up requiring a lot of manual intervention to make right.
Then there’s the issue of data enrichment. It takes a specialist to add value to the data you retrieve and make it optimally usable and actionable for your particular use case. In other words, it’s likely that the data you’re accessing via in-house builds isn’t reaching its potential.
Outsourcing your platform’s integrations enables you to take advantage of all the benefits while avoiding these common challenges.
One API, dozens (and dozens) of integrations
Innovative employee engagement platforms looking to build best-in-class experiences and get to market faster turn to Finch—the only integration partner focused on HR and payroll systems via the employer access point.
Finch works via a single, universal API that offers 360° integrations with an ever-growing network of HR and payroll systems (125 at the time of publication), so you can cover more of your addressable market than ever before.
By building your platform on the Finch API, your customers can authorize you to retrieve data from their payroll and HR systems in just a few clicks. Here’s how it works:
- Finch Connect (our secure front-end module) prompts your customers to choose their payroll or HR system.
- Your customers authenticate their account and authorize a set of permissions by entering their admin credentials to that system.
- The connection is established, and you start retrieving data.
That’s it. With Finch, what was once a 30-day process of tedious CSV file uploads, phone calls, and back-and-forth between your support team and your customers is reduced to 30 seamless seconds.
From there, you have access to your customers’ entire employee roster and dozens of data attributes per worker (e.g., hire date, job title, work and home location), allowing your customers to start using your platform immediately.
Not only does that save you time and improve your lead conversion rates, it’s a selling point to customers, who can be easily deterred by a drawn-out onboarding process.
And because the data connection is continuous, your platform is automatically apprised of new hires and other changes in end-user work status. In turn, your platform also makes onboarding and offboarding your customers’ employees easier, faster, and more automated. That can pay dividends for your customers, as studies show that strong onboarding processes improve employee retention by 82 percent.
The advantages of using Finch don’t stop there:
- We standardize data across our entire coverage network and output it in a unified format for optimal usability, saving you from the hassle of having to worry about the intricacies of your customers’ (many) HR and payroll systems.
- Our API is dynamic and built to scale, which means we can respond swiftly to new edge case systems and unlock support in as little as two weeks, ensuring you never lose a sale because of lack of coverage.
- Finch is designed for large-scale synchronization with tens of thousands of employers. We surface large quantities of sensitive information reliably and securely (check out our Security page for more information).
Last but not least, we handle all upkeep and maintenance of your integrations, so your team can focus on what you do best—helping employers cultivate engaging, connected, and productive workplaces, no matter what the world throws their way.
Want to know more about integrations for employee engagement platforms?
Click the black Request Access button in the upper-right of this webpage to submit a question or ask to see our API documentation.