Why are SSO Integrations Important for Employee Recognition Platforms

Third-party SSO providers manage employee app access for large companies with thousands of workers, bringing them easier access and improved security. Learn how SSO login benefits employee recognition tech and why it has to be integrated.

January 13, 2023 By Ravijojla Novakovic Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!


Digital employee experience matters more and more, and for companies looking to maximize the impact of the recognition solution they use, it makes a difference what kinds of integration an R&R vendor can offer.

A company already has a number of apps its employees use, so being able to integrate with the ones that matter most for the sake of simplifying the everyday work of employees is essential.

SSO (Single sign-on) functionalities offer a host of benefits, from saving time on logging in across different apps and enabling ease of access to improving security against external threats.

This blog post will shed light into how SSOs work in the context of recognition tools, and what benefits are there to integrating recognition platforms for mid-sized and large organizations.

What is single sign-on?

Single sign-on (SSO) is an authentication feature, service, and functionality that allows users to access multiple software systems and applications with a single ID and password.

SSOs are often used in enterprises that operate with a tech stack of several applications, and end-users need to access a variety of different software on a daily basis. Various solutions that end-users can access with an SSO are independent, but connected applications that can be hosted on the cloud or on-site.

To use an everyday metaphor, SSOs are like the one key that opens all doors – where doors are different applications, and the key is the password and login combination. To carry on with our metaphor, think of a company’s inner landscape of processes as a large building with many rooms and doors, and employees’ scope of work requires being present in several rooms.

If they had to carry a separate key for each room – they would need a lot of keys, making their travel between rooms more difficult, the keys would jingle (the digital noise effect), and they’d lose time on finding the right key for each door.

How do SSOs work?

SSO is a type of user authentication that companies also augment with several other identity and access management (IAM) methods, such as multifactor authentication and risk-based authentication.

Each application a company uses has its own user directories, with users that have various access to application capabilities.

For SSOs to work across a company’s tech stack, applications need to provide a way that ensures access to multiple applications’ user directories and provide a single point of integration across the applications.

To enable SSOs, a company needs to have an IAM solution in place.

IAM systems ensure that the right people in the organization have access to the technology services they need in order to do their jobs. Not all members of the same organization need equal access to all services. Similarly, employees can access all services, but only the limited parts of it relevant to their positions. The IT departments set up the IAM systems to ensure the degree of users’ access to company applications and resources.

As a part of the company’s IAM solution, the IT department also has to set up a central authentication system that will act as an intermediary verification body connected to all the tools.

This central system is called an Identity Provider (IdP).

IdPs are intermittent services that operate between the applications and users. IdPs manage the digital identities of employees, storing information about users such as their identity, names, and passwords.

In short, to have a successful SSO running in place, companies need to set up an IDP, a system responsible for authenticating users and verifying their identity. Additionally, an IAM solution is a broader system that helps organizations manage access to their resources and control who can do what within the organization.

SSO integrations in the context of recognition tools

According to Navigating the Employee Experience Era white paper: “There has to be established security trust between the organization, the R&R (Recognition and Rewards) solution vendor, and the corporate identity provider (IdP) so that they can be authenticated when the end-user eventually signs in.”

Effectively, end users will be authenticated with an SSO when accessing an integrated recognition tool, skipping the steps of signing in to applications separately.

For employees, this ensures that the recognition tool is more accessible and simpler to use. For companies, having a recognition solution integrated this way maximizes the adoption and use of the recognition tool.

R&R vendors that provide platforms that connect with various SSO solutions have an advantage in the usability of their products, safety, and rate of adoption. Examples of IAM and IdP solutions that are typically used with recognition platforms are Microsoft Azure Active Directory, SAP IAS (Identity Authentication), onelogin (IAM), okta (IdP), and others.

An R&R solution should also be able to offer native API architecture that connects to a core HRIS or HRMS an organization uses, such as Oracle HCM or SAP’s SuccessFactors.

This automation and integration allow companies that use recognition tools to streamline and automate workflows and employee data sync. Integrated that way, recognition platforms ensure smooth access via the organization’s core HR system.

➡️ Check out the integration capabilities of Semos Cloud’s platforms.

The benefits of SSO’s for employee recognition platforms

The applications we use in our work and everyday activities should simplify our lives. However, having too many disjointed applications makes us slowly overwhelmed by the number of apps we need and the information we process during our work and private activities.

According to Forbes, employees lose 32 days a year in workplace productivity toggling between the many apps we use daily. SSOs seem like a small investment, but not having them for recognition platforms is a rookie mistake.

When it comes to recognition software, which aims to elevate the employee experience and support a thriving culture, it’s counterproductive if employees feel like it’s just another app on the list of many they have to use in the course of their work. Here are the benefits of ensuring one point of access for your organization.

1. Better usability of recognition platforms

This one is a no brainer.

The easier it is to access an app, the more the app will be used. SSOs allow end-users to access several applications, including the recognition tool, using just one set of login credentials, reducing the friction of access challenges by allowing users to travel between apps they already use on a daily basis.

Also, by avoiding multiple clicks and password prompts, the end users are saving time.

This is especially important when pioneering a new platform, or when an organization needs to change a recognition vendor.

SSOs increase the program adoption and help employees get friendly with the recognition app early on, boosting the platform usage and maximizing the recognition benefits in a workforce.

Additionally, SSOs reduce password fatigue, an overwhelming feeling people experience when managing multiple passwords and PIN numbers. SSO effectively removes password fatigue, shortening a user’s time entering and exiting an application.


2. Improved security for companies

Cyber attackers present a significant threat to companies.

According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, 82% of breaches involved the human element, including social attacks, errors and misuse. Just a year before that, 61% of breaches involved user credentials.

Poor password hygiene is one of the major causes of security issues.

According to HYPR, “51% of people reuse the same five passwords across their work and personal accounts”, “42% of IT professionals report their organization uses sticky notes for passwords”, and nearly a half of organizations keep password lists in a spreadsheet or Word doc.

With SSOs, the end users don’t need to store multiple passwords in places that can be easily penetrable by attackers, providing an additional security factor.

Some employees who work in companies without an SSO system resort to having the same password they enter for each separate app; this is risky and makes the company more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

Having only one set of login credentials secured by an SSO provider that focuses on security via a digital identity provider alleviates some of that threat because it avoids the least secure of options when managing multiple logins and passwords: having the same one.

3. Smoother digital employee experience

Some of the most valuable premises of recognition tools are that they increase engagement, boost productivity and enhance the employee experience.

This goes beyond the usability of recognition apps; it’s about how well these apps are blended into an employee’s work environment and with the apps the employee uses daily.

Since most employees now operate in an increasingly digital area, seamless travel between the apps could not be highlighted enough.

For example, an employee who uses Microsoft Teams on a daily and hourly scale will benefit greatly from not having to exit the MS Teams app to complete a recognition.

With an SSO, this means that the employee barely notices where they leave one application and enter another; for their everyday scope of work, they needn’t know that either.

Their companies need to ensure that the digital environment is as frictionless and unified as possible so that the employees can focus on delivering great business results. Having SSOs in place greatly supports this.

4. Saves IT teams’ time and money

The most advanced R&R solutions offer turn-key integration to their customers, meaning their IT department will integrate the recognition solutions with the already existing apps in the companies’ tech stack.

This includes the core HR systems/HRIS, various collaboration apps like Slack, MS Teams, single sign-on vendors, mobile applications, digital awards providers, and others. All these integrations take time to complete and effort to maintain due to various upgrades and changes to the apps.

Having SSOs in place means fewer time spent on having to reset passwords and various user permissions.

For an enterprise of more than 1000 employees, the password resets can pile up, overburdening the IT team whose time could be spent more efficiently to reach the company goals.


Nowadays, direct cyber-attacks are putting more and more companies’ security and integrity in jeopardy. But a more subtle form of attack is phishing. These are spoofed versions of websites, which look exactly like the frequently used apps, that can easily trick busy, distracted employees into giving up their identity to malicious actors. Additionally, hackers use brute-force attacks to try and guess an employee’s password by using weak and frequently reused password combinations. Having all this in mind, an adequately configured SSO is the perfect mechanism to ensure employees’ and companies’ digital safety. That way, employees can safely and seamlessly access internal resources, but there’s no password to be stolen. Although it might appear simple to the end-user once configured, a lot of configurations are being done in the background to ensure proper usage and reinforced security.

Andrej Zakovski, Staff Software Engineer, Semos Cloud

5. Increased productivity

Due to the better usability of the app that targets employee engagement and productivity, the SSO integrations will benefit employee productivity in several ways.

With SSOs, the employees will not have to set a separate login and password. For that reason, app adoption and engagement with the recognition apps will increase, maximizing the app’s effect on the workforce.

From the point of view of IT teams, the less time they spend on integrations and password resets, the more their resources can be allocated to better serve more pressing company goals.

Ease of access to the recognition app is crucial for its adoption.

When employees use single sign-ons to send their peers recognition, it happens faster, and the effect is increased. Accessing the recognition app via the HRIS or HRMS system allows a seamless journey between the apps and makes employees understand how recognition serves the larger company goals.

Alternatively, suppose employees send recognition via MS Teams. In that case, a single sign-on solves the problem of disrupting their work, and employees can save the company time and resources to send recognition instantly from within the apps they use daily.

Key takeaways

In this blog post, we inspected the benefits of SSOs on recognition apps.

Instead of entering their password and usernames for each application a company uses, end users can have a single sign-on ID and password to access the recognition app.

Ideally, the recognition tools will be integrated with the core HR and SSO service, and various other apps for work collaboration, communication, project management, CRM and so on.

The standard principle of economy, less for more, can be applied to how we think of single sign-on services. Fewer passwords and credentials, more access, and better usability of the apps in question.

Enterprises use SSOs to ease access, save time, increase security and ensure better usability of all applications a company uses.

From the user experience point of view, which greatly impacts the employee experience the recognition tools try to enhance, SSOs make traveling between apps frictionless and non-disruptive to work itself.

Finally, since using time and resources more wisely is the golden target of both SSOs and recognition tools, using recognition tools that allow SSOs will remove unnecessary clicks and dispersion of attention between apps, allowing employees to be more productive.

New call-to-action