Thoughts from Peter Wilde, MD of Employee Research and Daryn Kinsella-Wood, Colleague Engagement Manager of Boots.

Can you tell me a bit about the Boots and Employee Research Story?

Peter: When we won the Boots contract the mandate was change and to bring their programme into the 21st century. The annual survey was out, so we needed to find a new, modern solution.

Daryn: Annual surveys are a huge undertaking. They take too much internal resource, cost too much and the reality is that we don't get much actionable insight - despite asking lots and lots of questions. On top of that, when the results come, many weeks later, they're out of date because the business moves so fast. We were nervous about moving to a monthly poll, but Employee Research were brilliant at helping us to move over and adapt.

What was the main hesitation about adapting?

Peter: This is common across the industry, but at first clients can be nervous to move away from asking 60+ questions and changing their engagement model. They say: “We’re moving from 60 questions to 8 – we’ll lose all our insight”. But this isn’t the case – when we ask 8 questions 12 times a year the opportunity for feedback actually increases and makes the whole process more manageable for everyone. We still track key measures, but don’t believe we need 9-12 questions specifically to meaningfully measure engagement.

That said, I noticed a change about two years ago. People were switching on to the possibility of doing things a different way. We now recognise once-a-year appraisals don’t work so we’re moving to more frequent and less formal feedback systems for individuals.

The only thing holding organisations back from doing the same was lack of innovation amongst the big research agencies – but Employee Research has the tools to make it possible.

Survey mechanics aside, what were the key adaptations needed to move Boots forwards?

Peter: Something that seems stuck in the past in employee feedback work is the design of communications campaigns. Boots staff, from retail to back office, are used to seeing glossy external ads and high quality internal comms. We decided that to make the cultural shift to monthly polling a success we needed to focus effort on communicating the changes to everyone in a contemporary and engaging way.

Daryn: The creative work and visual branding is world class - everything they produce for us looks like a genuine advertising campaign and they create a new campaign from scratch every month.

Peter: Every poll has a different theme so we design a new comms campaign each time, keeping it fresh – and we see the benefits in the participation rate.

“They design and produce bespoke, infographic-rich reports
each month which follow the theme of that month's poll.
Thats something you don't expect from a market research company!”

And so is report design as important?

Peter: Absolutely. And that means more than just a Boots logo in the top corner. We go to great lengths to design reporting output that is fun, powerful and intuitive to use, and make sure it doesn’t visually lag behind all the other tools people are used to in the 21st Century.

Daryn: They design and produce bespoke, infographic-rich reports each month which follow the theme of that month's poll. That's something you don't expect from a market research company!

What have been the key benefits of the new monthly cycle?

Peter: We provide Boots with results they can actually do something with. Our comments processing capabilities have revealed small but crucial insights that have led to concrete policy change – something I’ve rarely seen as the result of a survey.

Daryn: We give everyone in the company the opportunity to take part each month, meaning everyone feels involved in the process and the 'next day reporting' that Employee Research offers means that everyone gets timely feedback and uses it to influence business decisions.