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Survey FAQs


What experience do Agenda have in staff / volunteer surveys?

Over the last 10 years we have conducted more than 100 employee and volunteer surveys with over 60 third sector organisations. A full list of our surveys clients can be found here.

Who else have you worked with?

We have worked with over 60 third sector organisations from INGOs to social care organisations and charities.

Who would we be working with? (The team)

Each project is assigned two members of the Agenda research team. You will have regular contact from your consultant and ongoing support.

Questions and Benchmarking

What is the benefit of benchmarking the results?

We have done over 100 employee surveys in the third sector which means you can benchmark your results against organisations of a similar size or who perform a similar function. This enables you to contextualise your results and get a much fuller understanding of their significance.

We also have benchmark data from a number of volunteer surveys within the third sector, allowing you to compare your results to peers.

How many peers should we choose?

To protect confidentiality you must choose a minimum of 10 peers from our peer database but there is no maximum number. We recommend that you choose organisations to benchmark against that work in a similar sub-sector as you and from survey results from the last 2-3 years.

How many demographics should we use?

Getting information about your employees’ demographics enables you to dig deeper and identify areas for improvement and areas that are working well.

The demographic questions relate to the employees themselves; age, gender, ethnicity, religion etc. or to their role; management level, length of service, department etc.

The survey is anonymous and confidentiality is protected by the rule of 7 which is that if there are less than 7 people in a particular demographic group, you will be unable to report on this. However, they will count towards the overall results. The rule of 7 can be increased if you are worried about confidentiality.

It is important to make the demographic choices broad enough to be meaningful but also not so narrow that the data you receive cannot be reported on. This is something that your Agenda consultant will advise you on in the design stage of the survey process.

How does Agenda measure engagement?

We use the definition of engagement as: “Engagement is when the organisation values the employees and when the employees value the organisation.” We have an engagement index, which reflects this notion, and each organisation we work with is provided with their own key drivers of engagement to demonstrate what correlates engagement for them.

Can we run a Volunteer Survey at the same time as an Employee Survey?

Yes. People Surveys are becoming increasingly popular, as organisations understand the importance of engagement to drive retention and quality of service delivery throughout all people who work for the organisation, both as staff and volunteers.

Running a people survey works in much the same way as an employee or volunteer survey. When reporting, we can disaggregate responses from volunteers and employees.

Do you recommend paper questionnaires or use an online system?

We are able to distribute surveys online via email or in paper format. Email is more cost effective but paper surveys are also useful for employees who work in the field or are not computer literate. A combination of these methods can help to improve the response rate.

Paper questionnaires can be sent to the employee either at home or work and include a freepost envelope.

The web and paper surveys can be customised with your organisation’s branding and logo which gives you a sense of ownership for the survey and provides the staff with a platform which they recognise and trust. We can also set individual passwords for access to the online system, or one generic password for all.

What are the questions?

We have a bank of questions that we use which can be customised to match your organisation’s terminology. These questions can be benchmarked against other organisations we have worked with.

There are around 80 questions in the bank and you can choose as many or as few as you wish. Some organisations want a very detailed analysis of their staff whereas others find that fewer questions encourages a greater response rate.

Can we use our own questions?

Certainly. This is a particularly good idea when you would like feedback on something specific to your organisation. The only drawback to using your own questions is that you will not be able to benchmark the results with your peer group.

Why do you use a five point scale?

We use a 5 point scale of Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree Nor Disagree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree. This is the industry standard which means that if you have done a survey in the past with most other providers, we are able to match the questions to our own and load the responses into the online survey program, enabling you to benchmark against your own previous results.

Why have a Neither Agree nor Disagree option?

It provides respondents with an option when answering questions which may not apply to them and also doesn’t force people into false positivity or negativity.

Can you translate questionnaires into other languages?

Yes. We have run global surveys for a number of INGOs in the following languages: French, Spanish, Arabic, Welsh, Portuguese, and Hindi. We have the capability to translate the survey into any language required by our clients.

Should all staff be invited to complete the survey?

It is up to you who will be taking the survey, whether you decide to roll it out to all staff, including temporary contracts and bank workers, or only to permanent staff. It is a good idea though, if you intend to only survey a sample, to ensure that you are representing the range of employees within the organisation. We find that most organisations undertaking a survey will survey all of its people.


How does reporting work?

Once the survey has closed, Agenda will analyse the results and produce a number of reports for you:

  • Whole Organisation analysis report – which sets out the results for the whole organisation in comparison with the benchmark
  • Single departmental analysis report – which sets out the results for each department in comparison with the whole organisation and the benchmark
  • Multi department analysis report – which sets out the results for all departments in one report
  • Significant differences report – which for each question identifies any demographic group which is significantly different from the whole organisation.
  • Open Questions report – this is the analysis of the open questions used in your survey

Benchmark results against your chosen peers. We have done over 100 employee surveys in the third sector which means you can benchmark your results against organisations of a similar size or who perform a similar function. This enables you to contextualise your results and get a much fuller understanding of their significance.

All of these reports are provided as standard and alongside this, you can run your own demographic reports online to your specification. You will continue to have access to this for as long as you need.

We have done a survey with another supplier, can we compare the results?

Yes. It depends on the level of data you have from your previous survey as to whether we can compare results by the whole organisation and department but we can usually provide comparisons at least for the whole organisation and often by department too, providing there is enough similarity between your scale and questions.

What is the benefit to asking open questions and how do they work?

Open questions allow staff the freedom to give feedback to the organisation and share their ideas in their own words. The two we usually use are: ‘What is the best thing about working for this organisation?’ and ‘What one thing would you change about working for this organisation?’

When analysing your results the Agenda research team will take a random sample of 100 responses for each question and group them into categories and report on this. You will also get a report with all of the open question responses which are anonymous and can be filtered by department.

Going Live

When is the survey launched?

The survey can be launched whenever you like though we will provide guidance on particularly good or bad times of the year for this, such as around holidays.

How long is the survey live?

The survey can be live as long as you would like it to be. Usually organisations like to have their survey live for three weeks with an additional one-week contingency period.

Response Rate

What are your average response rates?

Response rates can vary by organisation and by sub-sector but our average response rate for Employee Surveys is 75% and our average response rate for Volunteer Surveys is 25%.

How can we improve our response rate?

Throughout the duration of your survey, you will be in regular contact with your Agenda project lead who will advise you on how to maximise your response rate. We recommend that you check the response rates regularly by department, which is easy using the Agenda online tool. Using a mixture of paper and online questionnaires can drive up the response rates of organisations whose people work in the field and do not have access to a computer.

Being in contact with the workforce with regular updates by email improves response rates and it is also important to demonstrate that managers are championing the survey.

Can Agenda report the results back to SMT?

Yes. As standard we include two results feedback sessions, one usually with the team running the survey and often the other will be with SMT or leadership team.

Cost and Frequency

How much does a survey cost?

The cost of a survey is dependent on the size of your organisation and the scale of work involved. We usually like to meet with a potential client before a proposal is submitted. For more information, please email Clare Harris.

How often should an organisation conduct a survey?

This is discretionary –some organisations conduct a survey annually, some every two years, some less frequently.

How can I find out more about surveys?

Contact our Head of Business Development Clare Harris if you would like more information about running your own staff or volunteer survey.

01865 263720

Agenda Consulting, 27 Park End Street, Oxford. OX1 1HU
Company No: 4509427

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