Press release: The latest trends in employee expectations, and how to get ahead of them


DE&I, wellbeing, flexible work, and career growth are important to employees globally.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) has become one of the biggest points of discussion among employees worldwide, according to the latest report from employee success platform Peakon, a Workday company.

Peakon’s second annual employee expectations report shines a light on what employees worldwide are talking about and expect from their employers in 2021.

The analysis of nearly 30 million employee survey comments revealed that the topics of DE&I, wellbeing, flexible work, and career growth are of increasing importance to employees globally.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
The proportion of employee comments on the topic of DE&I increased by more than a third in 2020, with the global workforce mentioning this 38 percent more in their Peakon surveys than in the previous year. This sharp rise – double the 19 percent increase in DE&I-related comments seen in 2019 – corresponds with a global pandemic disproportionately impacting minority communities, and the globalization of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. These events, and more, have shone a light on the responsibility of individuals and organizations to support social and racial justice.

In the U.S., the proportion of DE&I comments jumped by 48 percent in 2020 – significantly above the global average. The social justice movement, the presidential election, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic meant this topic was top of mind for the U.S. workforce in particular.

What Were Employees Talking About?
Words that featured prominently in DE&I-related comments included: race, diversity, inclusion, discrimination, disability, minority, BLM, gender, equality, inequality, and LGBTQ+. Close analysis of these comments revealed distinct sub-themes:
Race was a topic that was featured in 25 percent of last year’s DE&I comments. However, the volume of comments on race doubled after the social justice movement gained momentum in May.

Gender was discussed in 18 percent of the DE&I comments.
Comments on the LGBTQ+ community made up 7 percent of all DE&I comments.
Words such as “leadership” and “management” were featured in 43 percent of the DE&I comments – a sign that some employees are seeking more from their leaders on this issue.

One of the biggest conversation drivers among employees last year was wellbeing. The proportion of employee comments on the topic of wellbeing increased by 46 percent in 2020, year-on-year. The volume of comments relating to all three aspects of wellbeing – mental, physical, and financial – increased throughout the year.

However, there were notable increases in March and October, when many parts of the world were experiencing the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What Were Employees Talking About?
Words that featured prominently in wellbeing-related comments included: Mental health, wellbeing, financial pressure, stress, anxiety, exercise, fatigue, furlough, job security, therapy, healthcare, burnout, and life balance.

Mental and financial health dominated the employee conversation, comprising over 75 percent of global employee wellbeing comments in 2020. Comments referencing financial wellbeing outstripped mental health at the start of the year. But as the virus spread, so too did the number of employees talking about mental health.

Flexible Work
Flexible work was the fastest growing topic of conversation in Peakon survey comments in 2020. As governments supported widespread lockdowns, the proportion of global employee comments concerning flexible work increased by 125 percent year-on-year.

What Were Employees Talking About?
Words that featured prominently in flexible work-related comments included: Work from home, remote working, flexible hours, home office, commute, childcare, flexible travel, and productivity.

The comments covered a range of topics, from maintaining a healthy work-life balance, to concerns around productivity. However, notable was the topic of increased caring responsibilities. During the pandemic, and amid the closure of schools and nurseries, employees started to leave more comments about juggling caring responsibilities, parenting, home schooling, and supporting other members of the family.

“Whether organizations are focussed on business recovery, digital transformation, or putting down the foundations for future growth this year, employees will be key to their success,” said Phil Chambers, CEO and co-founder, Peakon, a Workday company.
“2020 irrevocably transformed the world of work, and accelerated the pace of change in an already fast-moving landscape. Our latest report findings demonstrate just how quickly employee expectations and priorities are evolving too, with clear momentum building in DE&I. Employees want to talk about these issues and tackle them head-on at work. That’s why it’s more important now than ever to give all your employees a voice, to listen to their feedback, and to use those real-time insights to understand what they really need” he added.

The employee expectations report is based on global employee survey data from Peakon. The data set spans more than 150 million survey responses and nearly 30 million survey comments from employees of all ages, across 160 countries and a wide range of industries. The report examines emerging employee expectation trends, and reveals the year-on-year growth between 2019 and 2020.

About Peakon, a Workday company
Peakon, a Workday company, is an employee engagement platform that converts feedback into meaningful insights that drive execution excellence and transformational success. Workday and Peakon together provide a continuous listening platform spanning the employee lifecycle and giving real-time visibility into employee engagement, sentiment and productivity. By leveraging the largest standardized data set of employee feedback in the world, it delivers insights about employee engagement, diversity, equity & inclusion, and growth, enabling leaders to build an accurate view of employee experience across all levels of an organization. To date, Peakon has helped organizations like Capgemini, The Adecco Group, Delivery Hero, Staples and easyJet make fundamental changes in how they operate to improve employee experience and drive better business results.

The Employee Expectations Report 2021