Limeade deal highlights renewed chase for new technology to connect remote workers

Limeade’s acquisition of a software developer last month showcases renewed competition for companies to have the latest technology to engage and connect with employees, particularly remote workers.

Based in Bellevue, Wash., employment engagement software company Limeade in September acquired Sitrion, the maker of ONE, an app that connects workers with one another. Limeade aims to interweave its software with the ONE app to help managers interact with their off-site workers.

“The people who are on the road, who are nurses, who are manufacturers, who are retail employees, will feel every bit as connected to the culture as those in the corporate headquarters,” says Henry Albrecht, the CEO of Limeade.

Limeade’s software is tailored for each individual, Albrecht says. “From the first day you show up on the job until 10 years later when you leave that company, we have a set of things that we do to make you feel supported.”

Limeade’s software is integrated with Microsoft Outlook Calendar, which allows the software to track how often managers meet with their employees. If a manager neglects a particular employee, the software will alert them and suggest they set up a time to meet.

“Everybody knows a good manager should be meeting with their team members weekly or at least every two weeks,” Albrecht says. “We can make an automated targeted activity to schedule a one-on-one meeting with that member of your team.”

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Limeade’s software asks employees if they feel included in the workplace. Depending on the answers gathered, the software will schedule specific activities to address certain concerns. “It could be as simple as inviting someone from another team to lunch, or learning ways to be open-minded and nondiscriminatory in your worldview,” says Albrecht.

Reid Rasmusseum, CEO and co-founder of healthcare solution provider Freshbenies, believes that remote workers have special needs. When a company has a group of 25 people, “all you got to do is stand up in the middle of the room and yell out something and you've engaged all your employees,” he says. “But once you've got hundreds of employees or thousands of employees, they do get spread out and keeping them in touch is a challenge.”

In today’s economy, keeping employees engaged is crucial. Job openings are reaching record levels and the quit rate hit a 17-year high this July, according to the latest figures from the US Department of Labor. Albrecht says it will take more than higher compensations and generous benefits packages to retain talented employees.

“I'm not here to belittle the importance of compensation and benefits strategy,” he says,. “The best and most meaningful and often the cheapest thing to do, is train your managers, the leaders in your company, that caring for your people is the best investment you can make.”

Ben Eubanks, principal analyst at market research firm Lighthouse Research & Advisory, says employee engagement platforms focus on “creating a separate channel for communication for those employees that are not getting access to that daily face to face interaction.”

Eubanks admits that it will be a challenge for employment engagement companies with mobile apps such as Limeade, StaffConnect, EmployeeChannel and Beekeeper to compete against established communication tools such as email, Slack and Facebook.

“They’re going to have to fight through all that noise and try to find a way to get in front of employees.”

But regardless of how employers choose to communicate and build connections with an expanding and spread out workforce, it’s an element most analysts and consultants agree cannot be neglected.

“The best companies in the long term always realize that their products and services of today, are not their products and services of tomorrow,” says Albrecht. “The innovation engine of their company is their people.”

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