This week, I sat down with Dan Rogers, Co-Founder at Peakon, at their wonderful new offices in central London to find out more about him, his thoughts on employee engagement and what makes Peakon different (asides from the beer on tap!)
What does Employee Engagement mean to you?
I think engagement means different things to different people, but for me it’s most easily characterised by discretionary effort; when someone cares enough to go above and beyond the day-to-day requirements of their job. Essentially doing something because you want to do it, not because you are being told or forced to.
From your experience, what are the organisations who have high levels of engagement doing differently?
There’s a wide array of factors, but I’d say the main ones are mastery, purpose, trust, and agility. Mastery essentially means they allow their employees to be great at something. Purpose means that the company has an identity and mission that the employees feel is meaningful. Trust is essential because employees need to be given the freedom and autonomy to make their own decisions. Agility means that they constantly collect feedback from their employees and improve; in the same way they collect feedback from their customers.
What led you to work in this sector?
It was the confluence of a few different things in my life. Firstly I’d spent about a decade working in technology and had been really inspired by the management and culture philosophy of companies such as Netflix and Google. The second was that I wanted to work on a meaningful problem – and most people I know hate their job – so I felt like even if I could have a small impact on that, it could really make a difference. The third was I’d spent a long time working on consumer analytics, and I felt that there was a lot of value in approaching employee management from a data-driven point of view – something that no one else was doing at the time.
In one sentence, what is the value that Peakon delivers, in the context of employee engagement?
We help everyone in a company – all the way from the CEO to a junior manager – make better people decisions.
There are a lot of employee engagement survey tools out there. What makes Peakon different?
People have historically viewed engagement as something to measure. The traditional annual survey drove almost no change, although it did give you a score! We view it as something to improve. To make meaningful improvements you need actionable insights, widespread adoption, and constant feedback. You can only do this properly using machine learning because basic software – or worse; people – can’t analyse the data fast enough. This is how we differentiate.
Some of your co-founders are from Denmark and you have an office in Copenhagen. Tell us how the principles of ‘Danish living’ have influenced how you operate in the UK?
We are focused on our internal employee experience; flexible working, unlimited holidays, and a comfortable work environment. There’s also a strong sense of Scandinavian design in our brand.
What’s next for Peakon?
We’re working on “closing the loop” for engagement. One of the push backs we get on moving to a more continuous engagement model is that the company can’t handle that amount of change or feedback. In the future this won’t be a problem because we are going to handle it for them.
What is one piece of advice you would have for practitioners to:
a) gain buy-in from stakeholders
Know your audience. Different stakeholders care about different things and therefore need different pitches. We work hard to tailor our benefits depending on whether we are talking to a HR director, CEO, or CIO.
b) gain buy-in from employees
Be transparent, be regular, and drive change. One of the crazy things about engagement is that the conventional wisdom seems to be “if we ask for feedback too frequently our employees will just starting making things up or get annoyed”. This just shows a lack of trust in your employees. The best way to think about surveying your employees is a pressure valve; the longer you wait.
Dan Rogers, Co-founder, Peakon
Dan Rogers is co-founder of people analytics platform Peakon, which was founded in September 2014.
Prior to Peakon, Dan, who holds an MBA in Management, Finance, Entrepreneurship from London Business School, was Vice President of Marketing and Growth at ticketing platform Songkick between 2010 and 2014. During his tenure, Songkick grew to over 5 million users and 10 million visits each month.
Before Songkick, between 2009 and 2010, Dan managed growth for Europe’s largest local reviews website, Qype, which he helped grow to 25 million unique monthly visitors.
Prior to Qype, Dan worked in a number of Finance and Technology roles, most recently at JP Morgan in London between 2005 and 2007, where he was a Senior Associate.
Dan, who spends his time in London and Copenhagen, graduated from Aberystwyth University with an BEng in Software Engineering in 2001.