Employee engagement software specialist Reward Gateway has created a platform that integrates employee benefits, wellbeing, feedback, rewards, and recognition into one unified smart hub.

The suite of tools in the modular design platform is used by more than 1,300 companies including IBM, McDonald’s and Tesco. It was developed to help Human Resources departments drive staff performance by recognising achievement and boosting communications, by giving staff access to exclusive discounts and financial rewards, for example.

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Image: Amazon

Staff at Reward Gateway noticed that employee usage of the platform was increasingly driven by mobile interaction.

"It splits a bit by time as you'd expect," chief product officer Richard Hurd-Wood told Techworld. "Very heavy mobile and tablet usage pre 9 o'clock, during the working day switched to desktop and laptop and then immediately when you get to 5 o'clock the usage of the product takes off again and switches through to mobile and tablet."

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Reward Gateway had already acknowledged the trend by developing mobile apps to access the platforms. The company’s advanced technologies unit decided that the increasing availability and social acceptance of virtual personal assistants made voice interaction a logical next step.

In February 2017 Reward Gateway released the world’s first employment engagement skill for Amazon Alexa to help companies save time by supporting real-time engagement.

"It's for HR professionals to be able to use Alexa when they're at home or possibly at work to be able to ask details of the particular performance of the products that we've got in place," says Hurd-Wood.

The technology gives them access to an array of employee information at the tip of their tongues. It includes the performance of the engagement programme, trending company news and the popularity of different benefits during a time period of their choice.

"We had our API already developed and then what did is extend the API onto the Amazon platform,” says Hurd-Wood.

"We have a dedicated internal team which enables us to get that product data from the API into the Alexa Skill."

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Reward Gateway also considered launching the product with Siri and Google Assistant, but ultimately plumped for Alexa due to its superior scalability and distribution.

Employers can request information on expenditure during a specific time period and segment the data by region.

Reward Gateway will soon be adding another Alexa Skill to encompass the company’s new feedback product "SmartInsights Pulse", which will allow Alexa to reveal a greater depth of information on the extent of employee engagement.

The company also plans to add a skill for employees to access the discounts available through its "SmartSpending" programme.

"My ultimate goal would be for employees to be able to say: I would like to buy an instant voucher for Tesco for £200 and for that transaction to take place through Alexa," says Hurd-Wood.

"This is the first step towards the next generation of technology in the workplace and means our clients will have another tool at their disposal to build a meaningful connection with their employees."