Aug 17, 2018 Elsa Snellman
A Call For Employee Engagement Revolution
Peakon isn’t the first company Dan has founded: he and his co-founder Phil Chambers first tossed around the idea of Peakon in 2014, when Dan was getting more and more into people management. As he had noticed, the approach that startups and companies have to fixing things is generally data-driven. When it comes to their customer base, companies tend to be extremely (data) analytic: from data we learn, data we preach, seems to be the modus operandi of everyone. However, these same companies were not using marketing analytics with their own employees. “They sit in the same room as you do, but you don’t get the similar feedback from them. Data has revolutionized marketing, why is that it hasn’t done the same for employee relations?” Dan wondered.
Under these circumstances, the idea behind Peakon was born. “Companies these days – especially with younger leaders – understand that people are companies’ most important asset”, Dan says. “If you agree with this, decisions you make about those people are the most important decisions, more important than sales and marketing decisions are”. Accordingly, one should use data and evidence, not opinions when it comes to making decisions regarding one’s own employees.
This idea has been the bedrock of Peakon. Dan, having worked in data science and understanding the importance of comparing “apples to apples”, had understood that people measuring employee engagement weren’t using sufficiently standardised models when doing the comparisons. “One company would done it one way, another one in a completely different way, then they’d compare, let’s say, engagement scores from different managers. And they wouldn’t take in account that some people had started before than others. Nearly everyone is more engaged in the beginning”, Dan explains. “Those things we built into Peakon, so that we could understand all the variables and be sure we were comparing right things.” It’s easy to see that when every company has their own model of employee engagement measuring, the wisdom of the crowd is lost in the process.
Reflecting Inwards: Insider’s View on Peakon’s Work Culture
Peakon focuses on transparency and autonomy, allowing all the people in the organization to partake in making important decisions. “We have very few secrets to even to our junior employees”, Dan says. “If you’re not transparent, people can’t be autonomous.” Dan offers an analogy of his idea of leadership: “It’s like being a lifeguard. You’re letting everyone try out the deep end of the pool. They can freely learn to swim, but if something happens, you’re there. That’s what most ambitious employees want. They want a good environment with interesting, friendly people. They also want growth opportunities. I give rope – I delegate – and they get to grow and earn recognition. Generally, it is much better to have a company with ten excellent, well-treated employees than 20 average employees who aren’t treated that well. Our bar on hiring is high, but but we ensure that our employees are treated well.”
How To Survive a “Crazy Year” Without Breaking (too) Bad
2017 was a big year for Peakon, to put it mildly. A lot has changed since their spectacular funding round. They started 2017 as a team of 22, and have since grown into a 75-people-strong team with offices in both London and Copenhagen. Companies naturally start running into issues when growth accelerates. As the team grows, it’s more likely than not that things break down regularly, when certain staff capacity is reached. Dan identifies the sudden need for middle management as one point in the corporate growth cycle. Case in point: when a company reaches 150 people, it cannot possibly be run with the same structure as 50 people.
“We had quite a lot of those problems,” Dan recalls. “But we managed to avoid them by using Peakon internally, short cycles, running it weekly, fixing issues quickly, whereas most companies operate quarterly. You build up debt of people and processes when you don’t run these things too often.”
All in all, Peakon serves as a great example for how to survive fast scaling. “For us, nothing really dramatically broke because we were fixing things on an ongoing basis,” Dan says.
Peakon founders were mindful, as they’ve done startups before, they put things in place early on. They put sales force in early when we had ten employees, even if it was incredibly expensive! They made a lot of decisions, had they not done that, it would have been much more difficult to do when they had grown into a company of 50-60 people. If you’re moving quickly, fix things on weekly basis.
Thank you for sharing Peakon’s story, Dan!
As eBay’s first Chief Diversity Officer, Damien Hooper-Campbell strives for inclusive culture inside eBay – both in the US and globally – and its online marketplace. With his deep background in the field, he is no stranger to leading diversity programs at top-notch tech companies: prior to eBay, he was Uber’s first Global Head of […]
Four years ago when I joined Truecaller, our founders, Alan and Nami, had already built one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the world. Starting out as a caller ID and spam blocking app, we’ve now broadened the product to a communications platform to make your conversations safe and efficient. Since then, we have reached […]
Last year, we wrote about the trend towards a decentralized economy, and how blockchain technology can be used to disintermediate markets through peer-to-peer solutions. 2017 was the year blockchain technology and cryptos hit the mainstream. We saw a price run-up followed by a temporary surge in interest by retail investors, and a subsequent price deflation. […]
We’re thrilled to have CTRL-labs joining us at Slush 2018! Though busy, we got a chance to interview Joshua Duyan, the Chief Strategy Officer of CTRL-labs, a New York City-based neuroscience technology startup. He joined the GV and Lux Capital backed company back in 2016, to lead its mission to create a non-invasive neural interface. […]
The Economist stated in 2011 that games will be the fastest-growing form of mass media over the next decade. In 2017, the numbers of the gaming industry were staggering: 2.2 billion gamers and $121 billion revenue with 10.7 % annual growth rate (CAGR). This year the industry is expected to grow $137.9B in revenues. Games […]
Welcome back to the North. We have a new approach for both our on-stage and off-stage program. What you’ll often find in tech events is an impressive lineup of amazingly accomplished and very well-known figures; founders of billion-dollar companies, the most influential CEOs, top brass journalists, and the occasional head of state. What is a […]
Blockchain has been more in the news lately, as this new technology is becoming less of a science fiction and more approachable to the general population. One of the fascinating applications of blockchain technology is in the energy sector, which could create new ways to produce and distribute renewable energy. So how can the blockchain […]
Christof Wittig, CEO of Hornet, one of the largest gay social networks in the world, talked to us about the recently-launched not-for-profit LGBT Foundation and its mission to utilize the potential of blockchain technology in order to support and protect the global LGBT+ community. You’ve probably heard the term “pink money” being thrown around. These […]
Founded in 2013, Detectify is a Sweden-based company which scans potential website vulnerabilities with the help of a global white-hat hacker community. Rickard Carlsson, CEO of Detectify, shares the story of their successful Series A funding round, with some valuable advice on how to convey a message through pitching. Rickard, who had previously participated at a […]
We collect cookies to make your experience here smoother.