Peakon Releases World’s Largest-Ever Study on Employee Feedback.

Pay, communication and management are top asks.

Employee engagement and retention platform Peakon has 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 organisations actually listen.

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 employees Top 5 topics charting highest negatively in amongst the UK employees
Yoga Pay
Good life balance Bonus
Team leader Review
Line manager Laptop
Benefit Canteen


Whilst there are unique traits for every generation in today’s workforce, there are some similarities as well. 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 non-existent 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, 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’.

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.

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.

“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 US and UK, we found that just one third, or 35 per cent, 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.”

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


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