Debenhams employee survey case study

  • Company:
  • Solution: Provided pre-survey launch stakeholder support and a user-friendly online survey tool
  • Result: Clear understanding of the factors that cause their employees to be engaged
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Debenhams is one of the UK’s best known and loved department store retailers with over 22,000 employees and 165 stores in the UK and Ireland.

Debenhams started working with us in 2012 when they needed help to devise an engagement programme and introduce an all-employee survey.


The executive board at Debenhams was keen to get detailed feedback from employees. The company had not previously run an all-employee survey on this scale and wanted greater insight into employees’ views of working for Debenhams.

Nicola Debney, Head of Learning & Development at Debenhams, explains:

“We wanted to understand what engages our employees and to see where the company is doing well and areas where we need to improve. Getting this insight will help us improve as an employer and help us build on our performance as a company.”


One part of the planning process involved us carrying out a session with key stakeholders in the retail and head office teams. The session gave this group the opportunity to get an advanced look at the questionnaire, discuss the rationale for the questions included, and agree how they might tackle action planning once the results were in. By getting people involved in this way, the aim was that they would ‘champion’ the survey to their teams and other employees.

We also developed an online system for Debenhams, which employees log into to complete the survey. The system also includes flexible reporting tools allowing benchmarking of employee survey results and to cut results by various demographics.


The HR team at Debenhams provided extensive support to department heads to help them to understand what the engagement survey results meant with a view to devising actions plans. The onus was also put on these teams to cascade results down through departments.

Debenhams, as a business, is already benefitting from the insights gleaned from this comprehensive employee survey.

Nicola Debney, explains:

“When you’re walking around the offices now, people are talking about the results and about the actions they’re taking so engagement is very much on managers’ radars.”

More targeted action

We’ve since carried out a key driver analysis for both their retail and head office divisions. This has shown clearly the differences in what has the greatest impact on engagement in the two business areas.

Further to this, we identified the key drivers for each specific store, region and division. This means that managers are now better informed about what questions were likely to have the biggest impact on engagement levels. The result is that managers are now in a stronger position to create meaningful and impactful action plans for their teams.


  • At a group level, Debenhams now knows what leads to greater employee engagement
  • Managers are communicating better with their teams
  • Employees are seeing action being taken as a result of their feedback.

Video: Hear from our client at Debenhams on their experience of partnering with ETS