Peakon shows the power of people analytics beyond the level of the firm

By analyzing millions of employee survey responses, Peakon shows that employee engagement starts to drop about 9 months’ before an employee leaves. Peakon’s analysis shows the true power of people analytics: being integrated in internal processes, using data beyond the level of the firm, and resulting in actionable insights. Ad astra!

TL;DR: Peakon’s analysis is showing the true power of people analytics. Rather than analyzing teams or firms in isolation, its power is to analyze and compare data across teams, firms and even industries. Rather than using data to describe the situation, its power is to provide tangible recommendations and next steps. Rather than using people analytics in a one-off project driven by consultants, its power is to become an integral part of company processes and track progress and results over time.

Peakon, founded in Denmark in 2014, is a platform for measuring and improving employee engagement. At its core, Peakon is a platform that gathers feedback from employees across organizations through surveys (which are delivered via email, SMS or kiosk). The value-added services are all built on this data: (1) building an understanding of the company’s culture and engagement, (2) showing real-time insights through management dashboards, (3) providing descriptive, prescriptive and predictive insights that are actionable, (4) enabling bite-sized micro-course trainings, and (5) tracking engagement over time.

Peakon describes the so-called “9-month warning”, i.e. according to their data analysis “engagement” and “loyalty” scores in employee surveys start to fall about 9 months’ before an employee leaves (see image below). Employee engagement is measured with Net Promoter Score (NPS) and calculated based on employee responses to a strategic question: “How likely is it you would recommend [company name] as a place to work?”. When engagement scores start to drop, employees are at risk of leaving. At the same time, an employee’s loyalty—a natural outcome of engagement, and a measure of intent to stay with a company—starts to dip as well.

Peakon is able to go one level deeper and unpacks what truly makes employees engaged. They share four very tangible pieces of data analysis with their conclusions:

  • People leave unchallenging work, not a challenging workload
  • People leave when they can’t discuss pay, not because they feel they’re under-rewarded
  • People leave managers, not colleagues, culture or the company
  • People leave when they don’t see a path for personal development

While some of these conclusions definitely sound familiar and are not necessarily new, it’s incredibly interesting that data analysis on large amounts of data proves them right and now makes them actionable. Even better, Peakon – to me – is an incredible example of a company that shows the true power of what people analytics can do:

First, to write this article Peakon brought together millions of employee survey responses and employee comments across 125 countries. By analyzing data across firms, they were able to develop learnings that would have never been possible to develop when focusing on data within the boundaries of the firm. Peakon as a third party platform is able to provide an unprecedented wealth of quantitative data for firms to gain new insights and drive better outcomes.

Second, Peakon goes beyond merely showing results on management dashboards, which is unfortunately still the current understanding of “people analytics” in many firms. By analyzing survey responses in combination with outcomes (i.e. did this employee leave or not?), they were able to spot multiple warning signs for attrition risk and translate this into tangible recommendations and next steps. Based on millions of other responses, Peakon is now able to predict whether some employees are more likely to leave the company. Moreover, senior managers are able to identify some other root causes that can be rectified before it’s too late.

Third, many firms still see people analytics as one of the many tools in the consultant toolkit, something to be used when firms are going through rough times and attrition risk is at its peak. By providing a platform that is easy-to-use as a tool for employees and managers alike, Peakon is able to firmly nestle and seamlessly integrate in the firms’ internal processes. Only with a discipline to strive for high adoption and quality, employee engagement surveys can provide real value. Once there, the options to realize that value seem endless.

In summary, Peakon is exposing firms to the true power of people analytics and unlocking a lot of value in that process. This is confirmed by the many 5-star reviews online (available here). Are they painting a too rosy picture or will Peakon soon be integrated in every employee’s weekly habits?


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