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Case studies:

Francis Crick: Evolving the Listening Strategy

francis crick listening strategy, People Insight

Who are Francis Crick?

The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical research institute working to make discoveries about how life works, for the improvement of human health. Known as ‘The Crick’, their company mission is “discovery without boundaries”.

In order to attract the best scientists and develop future science leaders, The Crick needs to create an environment where everyone can thrive. The Crick wanted to understand what was working well, what needed to improve and what progress was made since the last survey. Importantly, they wanted to know how different staff groups and those at different career stages experienced life at The Crick, using this rich data to shape priorities.


“People Insight, and our team internally, worked closely to implement a clear and robust internal communications campaign to emphasise the importance of anonymity”

Lynda Burns, Head of OD, Culture & Inclusion – Francis Crick


The Challenges

  • Complexity of internal stakeholder profile.
  • Having a robust data set to stand up to scientific rigour and maintain anonymity when reporting.
  • To deliver coherent action plans at an institute level and staff group level that bring about change
  • To reinforce the belief that survey results are acted upon.

The Approach

  • We worked in partnership with The Crick in running their all-staff survey from end to end.
  • A critical part was to learn about The Crick and develop understanding throughout the internal team.
  • Equipping the Crick team to disseminate the results through a targeted communications strategy and gain internal support.

What we did for Francis Crick

A compelling comms campaign was created in conjunction with The Crick’s project team, in which we created a feeling of security for staff knowing that their answers were confidential and no-one at The Crick would see individual responses. Consequently, respondents could be frank and honest and were encouraged to do so from the top.

The success of this campaign was reflected in the response rate of 79%. The average within HEI sector is 68% and being able to exceed the norm by 11 percentage points is a testament to the quality of communication throughout the project.

Having a representative, cross-organisational working group of staff for this project within The Crick, meant that the survey questions were able to be customised for relatability. Our participation incentive whereby each response to the survey means a mangrove tree is planted in places like Nepal, Mozambique, or Madagascar also tapped into pre-existing values of some staff at The Crick.

Francis Crick’s Impressive Scores




Response rate

*we used the Higher Education Institute benchmark as it was the most relevant benchmark, even though The Francis Crick Institute is not an HEI.

Post-Survey Analysis

Presentations by the People Insight team allowed for independent verification of data and suggested action planning that responded to the data with no organisational bias.

The brief to People Insight was to tailor the action planning and communication to the different staff groups within the Crick, allowing for them to own and manage their actions. With the backing of the project team, staff at The Crick had the freedom to implement actions in the ways that best suited their own needs.

Survey-driven action plans were crafted, all in harmony with The Crick’s cherished values of being Bold, Open and Collegial.

What’s next?

·        Almost 80% of people across The Crick shared their views, giving confidence that the data is robust.
·       On the whole, employee sentiment has improved since 2019. More employees believe The Crick is a great place to work than many other organisations that they look to benchmark against.
·       There are some areas where The Crick can take action, and the ball has already started rolling!

People Insight and The Francis Crick Institute continue to work together, evolving their listening strategy to also include pulse surveys through our self-serve and managed service offering.


“With diverse and highly analytical staff groups, People Insight’s data rigour was a critical factor in our choosing to work with them, enabling us to create tailored plans for each area of the institute”

Lynda Burns, Head of OD, Culture & Inclusion – Francis Crick