A credible alternative to Workplace from Facebook

At its highest peak in June 2020, 38% of the UK were exclusively working from home1 and this figure is likely to creep even higher as the pandemic leads us2 into next year. The shift to home-working meant many businesses had to act quickly to find ways of engaging and interacting with their people. As well as sourcing messaging platforms and video conferencing tools to continue working virtually, some organisations identified a gap for social engagement with their employees.

Social engagement platforms (that allow for story sharing, recognition and collaboration) have been popular for a while, but the challenges of a distributed workforce have only hastened their adoption. Facebook leveraged this trend by promoting their free version of their ‘enterprise connectivity” and communications platform “Workplace”.

Whilst the free “essential” package had its restrictions on some features (such as maximum group numbers and storage size) many organisations jumped at the opportunity to have this platform at no cost. However, at the beginning of December, Facebook announced the removal of its no-cost option and the plan to migrate existing organisations over to a paid option of at least $4 per person, per month, or $1.50 for employees who fit the ‘frontline’ workers category.

With this change set to happen in February 2021, Facebook will either migrate free customers to a paid plan or will provide tools to those who wish to download their data and go elsewhere. So, whether you’re already using Workplace and don’t want to pay the new price tag or were considering the “essential” package and want to re-evaluate your options, we’ve put together this blog to highlight your alternative - the Rippl platform.

So, what is ‘Rippl’? It’s an employee engagement platform with a focus on social recognition, instant reward and incentives. In a nutshell, the platform’s modular features allow organisations to make their people feel valued, informed and connected – all of which can have a positive impact on business performance.

To help you understand more, we’ve picked out some similarities and differences between Workplace and Rippl.

Similarities with Workplace

Mobile app

Many organisations tend to have employees that can be described as “deskless”. This may be a small sub-section of employees (for example educational institutions with catering, cleaning or maintenance staff who are ‘on the ground’) or it could be the majority of workforce (e.g. supermarkets or high-street retailers with huge numbers of shop-based staff).

Either way, ‘deskless’ employees can often be hard to engage and communicate with if they don’t have access to a corporate device or email address. Luckily, both Workplace and Rippl have mobile apps. This means that your employees can download the app to their personal or work phones to access all the activity going on within their organisation.

On the Rippl app specifically, your platform would be fully branded for your organisation. This would allow you to download your own app instance rather than a shared non-branded app like Workplace, helping to reinforce your brand identity.

Peer-to-peer recognition

Since the pandemic, it’s become harder to make the appreciation for your co-workers known. To combat this challenge, both Rippl and Workplace have features allowing you to recognise your teammates.

In a ‘Group’ within Workplace, you can recognise an “Achievement” by sending a post to a colleague with a pre-selected animation, your own photo/video or no image at all.

Similarly, the Rippl platform allows you to upload your own images and videos but with one key difference. Admins can also set up a gallery of pre-selected images and their relevant categories. This is useful for organisations who do a lot of recognition and celebration and want to make it easier for users. A great example of the benefits of pre-set images is if you want to allow your people to recognise others based on how they align to your company values – a simple way of bringing organisational values to life. You could also upload images relevant to events or times in the year, such as Christmas or national awareness days.

Choose a card from a list of categories then a design of your choice.

Support services

Workplace has two different levels of support services. With the entry package ($4 per person, per month) you’ll receive 24/7 support access and a 24-hour initial response time, but the Enterprise package ($8 per person, per month) is required to receive a dedicated support team and priority resolution.

With a Rippl platform licence, you’ll automatically receive unlimited 1st and 2nd line support as well as a dedicated customer success manager to ensure the smooth running of your platform. Some of our enterprise customers also have live chat support to ensure their questions can be dealt with effectively.

Differences with Workplace

Content focus

Some TrustRadius reviews of Workplace mention how the platform can sometimes be considered as ‘distracting’, including ‘endless scrolling’ through content on the timeline. Whilst it’s great that employers are getting large numbers of posts on their platform, there is a risk that users treat it purely as a social engagement tool, becoming a distraction from work rather than a driver.

Whilst Rippl also has a social timeline, we encourage our customers to use this as a place to share positive work stories, recognitions between colleagues and nominations for their hard-working superstars. There is always a time and a place to share content from your personal/social life but the risk with opting for a business platform from Facebook is that users could treat it like their own personal version of the social network and as such may post content not suitable for a work-related platform.

Instant rewards

On Workplace, you can recognise people through the “Achievement” feature, but if you want to add monetary reward, you’ll need a plug-in. There are some reward plug-ins available, but if you’re based in the UK or Europe, you might find they are intended more for the US market.

With the Rippl platform, there is a standard integration with ‘WeGift’ – a global leader in digital reward vouchers. This setup means that users with access to a spending wallet (normally managers) can add a monetary reward to their recognition posts and the receiver can choose how to spend their reward from 400 global brands.

WeGift catalogue of companies.

We find that ‘free’ recognition can be very powerful, but there is often a time and a place where adding monetary value helps to supercharge the positivity and impact. This could include celebrating a retirement or long-service, for example.

Alternatively, if you want to share reward on an ad-hoc basis, rather than attaching it to a recognition, there’s a tool to help you do this too.

News sharing

Edging towards features you’d expect from an intranet, Workplace can share internal documents across the platform. Similarly, on the timeline/news feed you can add attachments to your post meaning you could post an article or update to your people in this way.

Unlike Rippl, however, there is no dedicated area for news article or updates. Rippl’s news feed sits alongside the social timeline and is designed to host important company news that help keep your people up-to-date. Additionally, push notifications and email alerts for new content means you can drive traffic and engagement to your Rippl platform with ease. You can also choose which audience(s) your news is published to, meaning you can keep content highly relevant.

Security

Both platforms facilitate single sign-on which is useful to give back some control to the organisation for the security of the login process.

Despite being owned and developed by Facebook, Workplace states that they are separate platforms with different accounts and profiles, but the work platform does “benefit from Facebook's company-wide investments in security, infrastructure and technical innovation.”

The difference with Rippl is that each solution is tailored to the customers’ requirements and has its own unique instance, meaning your platform is not affected by other organisations or platforms. As a common requirement from our customers, any data in the Rippl platform is stored in the EU to meet data protection requirements. In comparison, data in Workplace is stored in Facebook’s data centres located in the US and the EU.

Incentives

Finally, Rippl has a niche but powerful feature – the incentives builder. This is an optional module designed to allow organisations with sales or service staff to build customisable incentives. The incentives allow managers to drive desired behaviours which, in turn, can be rewarded through the platform and will lead to a boost in performance.

Rippl admins can report on the progress of incentives by using the Microsoft Power BI reporting integration, which comes as standard on the platform.

To summarise, there are a lot of features and functionality across both platforms to be considered. Depending on whether you are looking for a more socially focused collaboration tool or a recognition and reward platform, your requirements will be different.

The advantage of Rippl as a self-service solution is full control over the way content is shared and distributed across your organisation; with no limits on access, permissions or features. With the ability to match Facebook’s monthly licence fee (depending on the size of your organisation) Rippl offers a competitive alternative with extra features including instant rewards, Microsoft Power BI reporting and a dedicated news feed.

If you have any questions about the Rippl platform, or would like to organise a free demo, please get in touch.

References

  1. Office for National Statistics—Coronavirus and the latest indicators for the UK economy and society: 1 October 2020