Five things you need to understand before you implement Peakon in your organisation

Peakon is an employee engagement platform. Through regular surveys and some pretty fancy number crunching, it tells you how your employees are feeling about working in your organisation and gives you a way to interact with that feedback.

It's easy to understand and easy to roll out and, I'd say, fairly priced.

But if you're thinking of implementing it in your organisation, I'd urge you to understand these points before you do so.

1. It is a safe space for the employee

Peakon has been very carefully designed to protect the anonymity of the employee. This creates a safe space for employees to tell you what's on their mind. It's important that you respect this, and resist the natural urge to ask 'who said that' when you see a bit of feedback. Likewise, you may be able to identify an employee based on what they said, or how they said it. But it really doesn't serve you (or them) to be speculating on that because it will quickly undermine their trust in you and the system. More on that below.

2. You will get feedback you don't want to hear

Because it's a safe space, your employees are going to share a lot of problems and negative comments. Be glad that they are, because at least they are engaging with the platform. How you respond to those comments is crucial. As hard as it might be, try and be grateful for each comment and curious about what has prompted it, no matter how negative or critical it appears to be. After all, the employee is telling you about something that is bothering them at the moment.

If you're defensive or dismissive - even if the comment is clearly misinformed or malicious - you're undermining the success of the platform.

3. It's a platform for dialogue, not information gathering

Building on the previous point, it's very easy to treat Peakon as a one-way information gathering tool. But the real power comes from engaging with the comments. Many employees are happy to vent. Some expect a reply. Some won't reply to your reply. But you and your managers need to engage as much as you can. At the very least, you need to acknowledge that a comment has been seen. This will take time. But it will show that you're taking it seriously. Make sure that you and your managers are putting in the effort.

You can also adopt a coaching approach if you believe that a comment relates to something that could be solved by the employee.

Earlier I said that you shouldn't try to guess who a person is. Rather, you should try and engage with them through the comment discussion. If they want to tell you who they are, they will. If they don't, then that's useful insight too.

4. You need to be transparent

Your first Peakon results might indicate that your company is performing below industry benchmarks. This is pretty normal especially if you've come from an 'Annual Survey' culture where nothing really got improved. And it's nothing to be afraid of.

The temptation is to hide this from employees in case they choose to leave as a result. The truth is, they already have a sense of how well the company is doing and how highly they are engaged, and if they want to leave they will, without waiting for a Peakon score.

If you share your score and top drivers for improvement from the outset you can demonstrate progress over the coming months. The longer you put off sharing your Peakon scores, the more difficult it will be to share later because employees will wonder what you've been hiding (and this will destroy trust).

Likewise, if something happens in your organisation and the scores go down, it might be tempting to stop sharing results or sending surveys until things improve. Employees will see right through that and it will destroy trust in your leadership. Much better to continue to find out what they think, tell them what's going on, and what you're trying to do - and want them to do - about it.

5. You need to act

After everything I've said above, this one should be obvious. You need to act on what Peakon is telling you. Some of those actions will be short term quick wins - repairing broken furniture, for example - but others (such as ensuring that everyone not only understands, but also believes in your strategy) will need a lot more thought, planning and action.

Make sure that any improvement initiatives are publicly attributed to Peakon, so that employees know they are being listened to.

To do this, your Peakon score and headline issues need to be getting board-level attention and priority and there must clear ownership and progress reporting for improvement initiatives. Be careful about using the Peakon score as a KPI as this might encourage behaviours that would attempt to game the system.

Above all, remember that if you don't act, there's no point in having Peakon.

I hope this has been useful. I'd be more than happy to help you understand what Peakon is telling you, and how you could respond. Get in touch.