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A New Era where Employee Data is King — Workday acquires Peakon for $700m

Workday to spend $700 million on Danish HR Tech startup Peakon.

Jennifer Dunkerley

Unleash Your People!Workday announces the acquisition of Danish HR Tech startup Peakon for $700m, who bridges real-time employee listening with data insights.

  • A recent study found that a composite organization made of Peakon customers enjoyed an ROI of 244% over three years.
  • Founded in Denmark in 2014 startup Peakon raised $68million in external funding from big-name backers.
  • One of Workday’s biggest deals to date was buying enterprise performance management platform Adaptive Insights for $1.6 billion.

Workday has acquired data-driven HR startup Peakon in a cash-money deal worth $700m.

This signals the growing need to connect businesses to their employees in more future-proof ways. For HR leaders, managing the experiences of staff when you’re not face-to-face has been one of the biggest challenges of the past 12 months. And ever more so, the answer lies in digital innovation.

Enterprise giant Workday acquiring Peakon is an important milestone in employee data capture and signals how the future of work will be based on an ever growing set of quantifiable insights and digital metrics to base all decision making.


Peakon harnesses real-time data to bridge employee and business success. Without the ability to have those in-person communications or to capture real time feedback, tech solutions for understanding employee experience, surveying their opinions and setting goals for success has never been more important. Not to mention cost-avoidance, identifying areas for agility, flexibility and ongoing updates in behaviour.

Workday is already a major player in this space, offering future-focused products across HR, finance and business planning. They’ve made more than a dozen deals already in the past few years in analytics and now the Peakon stable of insights cements them firmly in the data listening space for the changing world of work.

What this really signals is that the world of full-time in-person office life is already a thing of the past. Focusing on the hybrid, remote worker, and having the ability to monitor employee experience in whatever crisis the world throws up next and real-time insights, is where it’s at.

The pandemic has proven that businesses need to react quickly to manage their workforce safety and productivity in an ever-changing environment. And the correlation between employee success and business success is where to hone in.

“Bringing Peakon into the Workday family will be very compelling to our customers — especially following an extraordinary past year that has magnified the importance of having a constant pulse on employee sentiment in order to keep people engaged and productive,” Workday co-founder and co-CEO Aneel Bhusri, revealed.

Peakon CEO and co-founder Phil Chambers sees Workday as a logical partner. “Workday excels at helping enable customers to leverage their data. Together, we’ll be able to help drive greater productivity, talent development and employee retention for our customers — and unify how employees interact with their organizations,” he said.


Put simply, Peakon is a startup SaaS platform, founded out of Copenhagen, Denmark in 2014 to help businesses better engage with their employees and make better data-driven decisions. Peakon work in real-time to generate a strong ROI and improved productivity by boosted employee engagement.

With their eyes on employee success, Peakon converts feedback from the workforce into actionable insights by quantifying the conversation and creating engagement goals, not just measurement. The data drives the benchmark for the business but has a mission to give the employee the drive to change they want. Their current customers have included Capgemini, Verizon, Pret, Trustpilot, and easyJet.


Marc Coleman, CEO of UNLEASH predicted big moves in HR tech in 2021 and believes this is a great push forward for the future of work:

“We asked last Friday which of the 4 big HR tech vendors would be first out of the gates after our Salesforce announcement, and so no surprises on Workday’s announcement to acquire Peakon. In my opinion, this is a great win for both sides. 

“We witnessed how both organizations courted one another at UNLEASH event shows over the last five years. Peakon was a graduate of the UNLEASH startup ecosystem in Paris, Amsterdam, and London. They were always a ray of sunshine for our employee engagement sessions and really nailed it last year when they managed to place an ROI number on their HR insights platform. Perhaps this was what really grabbed Workday’s investment team and CEO Aneel Bhusri?


“HR’s always suffered fools gladly on the ROI question, so to put real ROI numbers to feedback, engagement, etc. number on the market economy in crisis, data has become  king and real-time HR reporting mission critical,” Marc adds.

“COVID-19 has created a faster economy where real-time communication is the new normal, a way of life, making the Peakon acquisition a smart buy for Workday on so many levels. 

“The most obvious being that Peakon provide customers with real-time feedback and insights. Workday have their finger on the pulse and this sentiment data from Peakon will add fuel to the rest of their product roadmap in real time.”

Peakon enables organizations to generate strong return on investment (ROI) through improved productivity, reduced staff turnover, and less absenteeism.

H2 2020 Peakon announced with Forreste that their customers, enjoyed an ROI of 244% percent over three years, equating to a net present value (NPV) of $1.2million. 

  • Savings of approximately $871,000 driven by a 10% reduction in voluntary staff turnover over three years.
  • Estimated savings of $755,000 resulting in reduced employee absenteeism, with average absenteeism declining by two days after the first year with Peakon.

Now Marc and the UNLEASH team are looking to more emerging tech and tools of productivity flooding the HR Tech Marketplace: “One to watch? HR Tech start-up TimeisLtd, – Jan Rezab and the team are blazing a trail by putting numbers and cost savings behind employee productivity data and culture mapping.” 

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