Horizon Discovery – Who we are

Horizon Discovery is an award-winning Biotechnology company headquartered in Cambridge UK.  With close to 400 employees spread globally, they use their gene editing platform and deep scientific expertise across the company to design and engineer genetically modified cells for application in research and clinical applications.

Four core functions – Research Operations, Corporate, Commercial and Global Operations share a common purpose to progress the understanding of genetic drivers of disease and ultimately advance human health.

The challenge

Horizon have experienced high growth and substantial change over the last 18 months and multiple acquisitions have provided the workforce with a wider, international reach. With the last engagement survey run in 2016, the company were keen to now understand more about employee engagement across the employees of Horizon in 2018.

Horizon felt that previous surveys didn’t allow them to capture crucial feedback in a way that really enabled action, and they lost valuable time in reviewing and analysing results that could have been used in progressing and implementing feedback.

Horizon were looking for an experienced third party to add value to the survey process, who could provide background and insight into result outcomes, and approached The Survey Initiative for help.

What did we do?

Horizon met with the Survey Initiative to agree the survey approach, identifying the need for dedicated resource who could drive the survey and collate the group’s data quickly and efficiently.

With a clear goal in mind to take a health check of the company, the Survey Initiative worked with Horizon’s Executive Leadership Team to ensure questions were relevant and incorporated priorities across all areas of the business.

Horizon were looking for an experienced, external viewpoint to analyse their engagement results in line with other industry norms and provide crucial context by benchmarking against other companies at similar stages of growth.


Horizon’s engagement survey saw an overall response rate of 81%.

The results highlighted areas for development such as communication of strategy and team work, as well as highlighting core strengths for Horizon to protect, including; high engagement, support and guidance from managers, opportunities for challenge and career prospects, and the level of organisational integrity and respect across teams.   

The Survey Initiative presented results back to Horizon’s Executive team, and helped to pull out the top 3 areas of strength and development in the future. Results were categorised in both functional and geographic splits, making them easy to digest, interpret and distribute. The clarity and structure of this data was a key factor for Horizon.


Thanks to the feedback, results and subsequent conversations with the Survey Initiative, Horizon have been able to share results and next steps on a global level, enabling consistent feedback to employees.

Immediate actions for Horizon include:

  • Executive team working with Functional Leadership teams to develop action plans based on the areas of strength and areas for improvement
  • Involving as many people as possible in development of actions for improvement areas
  • This will enable continual progression at Horizon, to deliver a culture that makes a difference, and motivation for teams to contribute to the company vision

The future

Horizon is a dynamic and innovative company that is positioned for growth. They recognise that employee engagement is an important part of the company’s success and are using the survey response from their global population as a catalyst for their engagement roadmap over the next 18 months.

Heather Hayes, Head of HR at Horizon, was keen to share her views on completion of the recent engagement project with The Survey Initiative:

“The Survey Initiative really have a passion for helping organisations to excel, and are exactly the kind of partner that Horizon looks for. They have an in-depth industry understanding and backlog of benchmarking data that gave authenticity to our results and further insights that we would not have had internally. 

They managed to turn what can be a lengthy project into a fun and valuable one, and having a trusted third party in charge gave a real credibility to our survey results. We are now in a position to learn from our feedback, and action it for 2018.”