In a time of highly competitive war for the best talent, employees who may have previously been hesitant to express dissatisfaction are doing so in the most direct way possible -- by walking out the door.

A 2018 Addison Group report found that "nearly three-quarters of candidates are confident in their ability to secure a new job quickly." In today's candidate-driven market, employers must pay close attention to employee needs, and to do that, they most importantly need to listen to their employees.  

A recent study by employee retention platform Peakon provides invaluable insights into what employees say, and how they say it, by asking for feedback from employees in 160 countries in the world's largest-ever study of this kind.

Through over 11 million comments, The Employee Voice report reveals exactly what employees say when prompted for workplace feedback, and if organizations actually listen.

Unhappy Employees are Most Vocal 

Globally, Peakon found that employees are twice as likely to leave a comment for their employers when they're unhappy, compared to when they're happy. It's worth listening since unhappiness leads to more than just words.

According to recent data published in HR Dive, 52% of U.S. workers plan to look for a new job in 2019. With over half of the U.S. workforce planning to move on, it is imperative for employers to make some changes. 

However, according to Peakon, employees don't seem to be asking for magic tricks 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 organization]?", the top three responses were:

  • pay
  • communication
  • management 

This global trend indicates that most employees want basic, universal things to remain satisfied at work. 

Younger Generations Are Changing Today's Workplace 

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 nonexistent among the older cohorts. It demonstrates their desire to bring environmental causes that are close to them in front of their employer. 

While social and environmental issues may seem only tangentially related to the business of work, the tide is turning and ignoring these needs may have a concrete impact on business success.

In September, for example, employees by the thousands took to the streets in a global climate strike to demand more progressive action to fight climate change. Think voice matters?

As a result, Amazon agreed to add 100,000 electric vans to its delivery fleet and Google made the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history.

Millennials and Gen Z are sounding the alarm for businesses to step up their efforts to make a positive impact on the broader world, according to Deloitte's seventh annual Millennial Survey. In fact, 61% of Gen Z employees say they would leave their current jobs within two years if given the choice. 

Employers who keep these generational preferences in mind are more likely to succeed at connecting with their employees, promoting mutual understanding, and making employees feel heard. 

The top takeaway is clear: Employees want to be heard. If you want to increase retention, engagement, and productivity, it is well worth your time to listen. 

There is plenty more to unpack in the Peakon study. The full report is located at Heartbeat by Peakon