Workshop led by NUS and Agenda at NUS Students’ Unions Conference 2017

By: Tim Walters – Principal Consultant, Agenda Consulting

The Event

Last week, I attended the NUS Students’ Unions 2017 Conference to run a joint workshop with Claire Marsland – HR Senior Consultant at NUS, exploring the aggregate results of the recent Students’ Movement Club Employee Engagement Survey.

The event, held on 4-5 July 2017 at Birmingham NEC, was an opportunity for staff from across NUS to share expertise on the theme ‘Resilient Students’ Unions working together’.

NUS have run Employee and Volunteer Club Surveys with Agenda since 2013, with over 60 individual Students’ Unions participating over the last 5 years, and 33 taking part in 2017. Participants receive their own reporting with benchmark comparisons to the Students’ Movement, and to the wider Third Sector.

The Workshop

Titled ‘Big Data’ on staff engagement: What’s it telling us?’ the workshop drew on insights from the combined dataset to explore a range of themes emerging for the Movement. These included:

A look at workforce profile and diversity in the Movement, including trends over time, and comparisons to the wider Third Sector, and the UK as a whole

  • Where are we on diversity?
  • Where do we aspire to be?
  • How similar / different is the profile of our workforce?


Employee engagement in the Movement.

  • Does engagement matter?
  • What is the business case?
  • What are the right measures, and how does it compare to the wider Third Sector?
  • What are the key drivers for engagement?
  • How does engagement vary by type of employee, personal characteristics, student / non-student staff, region and block grant?


Looking at the wider results, eg for leadership, communications, values, and line management

  • How do we compare to the wider Third Sector?
  • Where are we ahead / behind and why?


 The session was well-received, and delegates identified that this kind of data is often light in the Movement. It prompted plenty of ideas for how to develop the Club Survey and how the aggregated findings might be used in the future, for example feeding into recruitment and retention strategies.

What is a Club Survey?

Engagement Surveys provide deep insight to your staff’s and/or volunteers’ experience, and the key factors influencing their engagement. It is important to understand how the results compare with other organisations – listening to views on what needs to change is extremely valuable to an organisation.

We recognise that many organisations are somewhat constrained in terms of funding and resources, but would still value the insight.

A Club Survey offers members of groups and associations the opportunity to take part in a survey of mostly pre-determined questions, and compare results with other not-for-profit organisations. It is more affordable for smaller organisations, run over a defined time period, and builds the database of benchmarks, which in-turn provides useful information about experiences across the Sector.


If you are part of a group or membership association, and would like to find out more about the Club Survey, please contact Clare Harris on 01865 263720 to find out more.

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