Peakon Releases World’s Largest-Ever Study on Employee Feedback, based on 11 Million Responses from 160 Countries

COPENHAGEN, LONDON, BERLIN and NEW YORK (September 24, 2019) – Peakon, the world’s leading employee engagement and retention platform, today released The Employee Voice, an in-depth report analysing more than 11 million anonymous employee comments, from workers in 160 countries. The study, which is the largest of its kind ever conducted, provides insight into exactly what employees say when prompted for workplace feedback, why they speak up, and if organizations actually listen.

  • Globally, pay, communication and management are top asks from employees
  • Younger generations are changing today’s workplace – Gen Z talks about vibe & plastic use, Millennials can’t live without emoticons, Silent Generation fears age, Gen X worries about job security
  • Employees in Australia and New Zealand are the most vocal, but employers in Europe & North America are the most responsive
  • Government and Energy & Utilities are most likely to speak up, but Technology is most likely to respond

Unhappy Employees Are Most Vocal Yet Don’t Ask For Magic

Globally, Peakon found that employees are twice as likely to leave a comment when they’re upset, compared to when they’re happy. However, employees aren’t asking for magic when it comes to staying happy. In response to the open-ended question, ‘If you had a magic wand, what’s the one thing you would change about your organisation?’, the top three asks from employees globally are: pay, communication and management.

Country-level analysis revealed top five trending topics with positive and negative sentiment amongst UK employees : 

Top 5 Topics Trending Amongst UK Employees 

Top five topics garnering positive feedback amongst the UK employeesTop 5 topics charting highest negatively in amongst the UK employees
YogaPay
Good life balance Bonus
Team leaderReview
Line managerLaptop
BenefitCanteen

Younger Generations Are Changing Today’s Workplace 

Whilst there are unique traits for every generation in today’s workforce, there are some similarities as well. The Employee Voice uncovered:

Gen Z is socially conscious and fiscally driven

Peakon found that Generation Z, the youngest segment of the workforce (those born after 1997), is uniquely vocal in expressing a desire for social change and environmental action from their employers. Gen Z is three times more likely to discuss plastic use in the workplace — a trend that is nearly nonexistent among the older cohorts. It demonstrates their desire to bring social causes that are close to them in front of their employer. 

Having grown up in austere times, Gen Z’s prominent workplace experiences centres around their finances. References to terms such as “minimum wage”, “tips” and “overtime” with negative sentiment paint a clear picture of the overarching socioeconomic circumstances that affect the younger generations: an uncertain job market, crippling student debt and an inability to gain a foothold in the housing market.

Silent Generation fears age whilst Gen X worries about job security

Silent Generation, the oldest members of the current workforce, are three times more likely to mention going part-time and make a reference to their age. References to the topic of “age” suggests a deeper underlying issue with regard to age-related concerns — this generation is aware of their older years, and the bias that it may bring, but their reference to going part-time also suggests that they’re not quite ready to leave the workforce yet. Gen X references ‘long hours’ and ‘personal life’ alongside ‘job security’, underscoring an imbalance between their working and personal lives, while Millennials value their ‘free time’ and ‘life balance’. 

Language and Software as generational character traits 

The Employee Voice report uncovered that business language used by Gen Z and Millennials is quite different from their older counterparts. For example, “vibe” has emerged as a word unique to Gen Z in terms of describing company culture and atmosphere. Gen Z talks three times more about “vibe” and “good vibe” at work than other generations, and with a high positive sentiment around these terms (8.6 /10). Millennials are most likely to use emoticons such as “:)” in their comments, whereas Generation X and Boomers use more conventional language, such as “remuneration”. Overall, Gen Z uses more self-referential language than other generations, opting more frequently for a personal voice, especially when expressing displeasure. Gen Z is about three times more likely to use self-referential comments — such as: “I”, “I’m” or “I’ve” — than anyone else too, suggesting deeply personal experiences and views on work.

Different generations also communicate in different ways and use different industry tools. Baby Boomers are discussing business software such as SAP, while Silent Generation reference using email to communicate. Slack, a cloud-based communication and file-sharing tool, is the preferred channel for Millennials.

Work-life balance is a struggle for all generations

The study also revealed that work-life balance is a topic that affects all generations. Boomers and Generation X have particularly strong ties to life beyond the office, seen in topics like “family” and “home life”. There are even more telling similarities when looking at the sentiment of those comments, with Gen X being two times more likely to refer to their home and personal life than other generations.

Employees in Australia and New Zealand Comment, Europe and North America Responds

Employees in Oceania (Australia and New Zealand – 37 percent employee comment rate) and Latin America and The Caribbean (36 percent) appear to be the most vocal regions.

Whilst the commenting behaviour of the employees in Oceania is the highest, they may feel like their feedback is falling on deaf ears with only 11 percent of comments receive an employer response in a form of acknowledgement, with a further drop to 7 percent in Latin America and the Carribean. This could indicate a communication gap between workers and companies in these regions. 

On the other hand, the employers in Europe (20 percent employer response rate) and North America (17 percent) seem to be the most responsive, with 1 in 5 employee comments getting a text comment. While employees aren’t speaking up as much as in other regions, when they do, their employers respond to feedback and let each employee know that their opinion has been received and listened to. 

Technology Has Less Outspoken Employees, But Is Most Responsive of All

When analysing employee comments by industry sector, Peakon found that employees in the more traditional industries such as Government (37 percent of employee response rate), Energy & Utilities (36 percent) and Manufacturing (35 percent) had the highest employee comment rates. This indicates a trend that employees typically without desks or work devices are jumping at the chance to have a conversation with their employers. However, when we look at the employer response rate, the pattern is reversed once again with the employer response rates as low as 5 percent in Energy & Utilities and 7 percent in Manufacturing. 

Whereas non-office based industries seem to be still catching up on responsiveness, perhaps being used to the traditional one-way model of communication, Technology, an industry in which the employees are seemingly less outspoken, tops the list of most responsive industries (23 percent of employer response rate), followed by Professional Services (22 percent). Only Healthcare (18 percent) ranked in the top four for both employee comment and employer response rate. 

“This type of intelligence is gold. Having a better understanding of employees’ needs and preferences enables companies to make intelligent, evidence-based decisions to help staff bring their personal and professional best to work every day. To do that, employers need to actively and  continuously listen to their employees’ feedback,” comments Kasper Hulthin, co-founder and Chief Growth Officer at Peakon. “Regardless of why managers or employers might not respond, the result is the same for the employee: they don’t feel heard. In our preliminary study across the U.S. and U.K., we found that just one third, or 35 percent, of the workforce feels heard. This brings a great opportunity – and a responsibility to every employer – to harness the desire to be heard, act on their employee feedback, to build both trust and communication and keep their workforce engaged,” concludes Hulthin.

The full Employee Voice study is available today at Heartbeat by Peakon, an interactive hub for workplace research and analysis. Previous studies include:

About The Employee Voice

Companies of all sizes implement Peakon to conduct regular, employee-facing surveys to better understand their workforce. In response to these surveys, in which employees rank their organization on a scale of 0-10 across 14 key drivers, respondents also submit more than 22,000 write-in comments each day. Every second there’s a person around the world answering a Peakon survey question, and about every 4 seconds someone is leaving a comment. The Employee Voice is based on unique this incredibly rich data set, which provides new glimpse into the attitudes and behaviors of employees around the world.

About Peakon

Peakon’s mission is to provide insights to help everyone reach their full potential. Founded in 2014 by Kasper Hulthin (Podio – acquired by Citrix), Christian Holm (Podio), Phil Chambers (Gumtree – acquired by eBay, Qype – acquired by Yelp, Podio), and Dan Rogers (Qype, Songkick), the Peakon team has a track record of building some of the world’s most successful technology startups. To date, Peakon has helped clients such as Capgemini, Verizon, BMW, TrustPilot, Harrods and easyJet make quantifiable improvements to employee engagement, retention, and team effectiveness. Peakon is privately held with offices in Copenhagen, London, Berlin, Auckland and New York City. Current investors include Atomico, Balderton Capital, EQT Ventures, IDInvest Partners and Sunstone. 

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