The challenge

Places for People is a not-for-dividend organisation; any profit the company makes is re-invested back into the business. With a strong ethos for corporate responsibility, the company has a history of running an employee engagement survey but felt the data they received was not sufficient for mangers and staff the make a ‘real difference’.  The company were keen to understand more about employee engagement across their circa. 3000 strong workforce, which is spread across multiple sites throughout the UK.

Places for People decided to take a fresh approach and brought on board The Survey Initiative.

What did we do?

Response rates with the previous survey were very low and there was a feeling that not enough improvements were made following each survey. The Survey Initiative initially met with Places for People’s Executive team to agree their approach and then undertook pre-survey focus groups with employees to really get to grips with what matters to staff and what they wanted to measure through an engagement survey.

In addition, discussions with the senior management team also ensured the survey included questions relevant to both employees and the development of the business. In partnership with Places for People the survey was promoted to help increase response rates.


The response rates shot up from 62% in the last survey to an amazing 82% with The Survey Initiative!

The results also highlighted key areas for improvement, such as team working and recognition as well as areas Places for People excelled including:  company values, management style and working with great people.

Post-survey focus groups were then requested by David Cowans, CEO and the Executive team to help identify the detail behind the top 3 things the Group does well and the top 3 things which staff would like to change.


Thanks to the employee engagement survey and consequent feedback the company has embarked on a number of new measures to develop its employee engagement across the business.

Measures have included:

  • Developed team engagement plans, which are linked to manager’s appraisals.
  • Introduced the ‘Top Three Things To Do’ initiative to encourage active engagement.
  • Created ‘building knowledge and connections’ scheme where staff can job shadow in different parts of the business to improve cross functional working,  mentor other employees and get to know what they do to encourage more team working and recognition for job roles.
  • Communicating regularly  ‘short case studies’ Group-wide to share learning and experiences on where improvements have been made and have increased local and corporate engagement

The future…

Places for People has recently acquired new businesses and has increased its labour force to over 8,500. With fresh challenges ahead the organisation is keen to keep employee engagement at the top of their agenda, and quantify the success of their actions on a regular basis.

“The Survey Initiative is open, honest and approachable; I trust them 100%. They’re great at facilitating focus groups, undertaking research and providing easy to understand report which managers and their team can use to make real improvements. We found our previous survey to be too rigid in its set of questions and subsequent reporting, and didn’t help us move forward as an organisation. We’re delighted to be working with The Survey Initiative as we know they want to help us make a difference.”

Liz Sharrocks Employee Engagement Advisor, Places for People

To find out more about Places for People, visit