+44 (0) 203 142 6511 enquiry@peopleinsight.co.uk

Case studies:

King’s College London: A New Era of Engagement

king's college london, People Insight

KCL’s Headline Stats


engagement score


above HE sector benchmark


action plans created


survey since 2017

Who are King’s College?

King’s College London is one of the oldest universities in England with over 33,000 students from over 190 countries around the world. For King’s College, welcoming a new Vice Chancellor, Professor Shitij Kapur, in 2021 was the catalyst for a renewed focus on gathering feedback and insights from staff across the institution.

Re-igniting the staff survey

Indeed, it was Professor Kapur’s programme of individual feedback sessions that highlighted a need for King’s College to invest in a robust all-staff survey project – something that had not been implemented since 2017. These sessions also highlighted a perceived lack of action from previous surveys, as well as a level of apathy from staff towards the previous employee insight strategy.

With investment secured, the management of the project was the job of the Organisational Development team at King’s to set about finding an employee partner who could help them reignite their survey strategy.

Hear directly from King’s on their survey journey below, taken from one of our recent Learn & Share webinars!

Understanding challenges in the sector

Although King’s College has delivered a wide range of staff engagement activities since its last all-staff survey in 2017, a refreshed survey strategy offered the opportunity to develop a real sense of belonging across the entire workforce.

King’s decision to partner with us at People Insight was influenced by a range of factors, not least a requirement to first establish a baseline data set after a six-year hiatus, that would allow the university to properly measure and understand its strategic priorities.

And, having worked with over 50 institutions across the Higher Education sector on employee engagement surveys, we were also able to support King’s College to benchmark their performance, not only at a local and organisational level but within the wider sector, helping them to better understand the challenges being faced across the HE landscape.


“The partnership with People Insight has been fantastic as they’ve been very responsive and in terms of the consultancy they’ve provided us, you can’t measure it. This is what’s really added value beyond just delivering a staff survey, and I think the support we’ve received in driving some of the action plans has been phenomenal.”

Laurie Gallagher – Staff Survey & Data Manager

A new approach

King’s College worked closely with People Insight to devise a design, decide upon their data parameters and understand the scope of the survey beyond its launch to staff. Crucially, there was a focus on creating a streamlined survey that reflected and resonated with the diverse range of roles across the university workforce.

With a revitalised survey strategy, King’s took the opportunity to embed new ideas in their approach, such as taking advantage of People Insight’s partnership with the Eden Reforestation Project to incentivise staff with a commitment to plant a tree for every response received.

In addition, King’s offered additional surprise incentives in the form of free hot drinks and food at cafes and restaurants across campus, and, having not been included as part of the official launch communications, news quickly spread amongst staff.

In the spirit of healthy competition, league tables were shared internally with university leadership teams which not only encouraged staff to complete the survey but also allowed for the sharing of best practice as managers shared how they were driving up their response rates.

King’s results

King’s College achieved a 60% participation rate, higher than seen in their previous survey programme and establishing a solid baseline for future all-staff surveys.

With the backing of the university’s senior leadership team, the initial survey has created a blueprint for future survey strategies. After a six-year hiatus, KCL are now building an internal culture that better understands the positive potential of detailed employee insights, and how this data can help to support organisation-wide action planning.


“I want to say a huge thank you to People Insight for their advice, guidance and patience throughout this process. It’s been really great to work with them and I’m looking forward to the next stage of our journey together.”

Sue Li – Senior Organisational Development Consultant

Developing a strategic action plan

Once the survey results were in, King’s College worked closely with Lisa Hughes, Senior Consultant and Kate Pritchard, Head of Consultancy at People Insight for a series of bespoke one-to-one coaching sessions.

Working with leadership teams from across the university, Lisa and Kate highlighted key themes and trends, analysing each faculty’s results to create tailored action plans, enabling King’s to reinforce momentum and build a picture of what employees really thought about working at the university.

An adaptive partnership

The survey project team’s ability to adapt and adjust the process as and when required was also beneficial to the project, particularly when questions arose around the expectation of departments in regard to their own individual action planning.

After discussing it with our team at People Insight, it was decided that King’s would run a further 27 tailored coaching sessions with Lisa and Kate who would offer local leadership teams the chance to get advice on what their engagement activities should look like across their local areas, how they should share results, and how they should compile additional feedback.

Following the all-staff survey in June, King’s went on to make use of People Insight’s pulse survey capabilities within certain faculties which has already made a tangible impact, with staff saying they feel more valued at work and that action will be taken as a result of staff surveys.


“We really believe in making the HEI sector a great place to work, and this can be achieved by making action happen post-survey. It’s been a pleasure being part of this whole journey with King’s College.”

Jane Tidswell – HE Director, People Insight

What’s next?

With the help of People Insight, six key areas were identified for improvement, with King’s identifying two to three action points against each area, the responsibility of which sits with a member of the senior leadership team.

These will form the focal point of the next all-staff survey with a further pulse survey planned at the 18-month mark.

And the buy-in from senior leaders continues to drive forward King’s renewed employee survey strategy, with the Vice Chancellor hosting roadshows across the faculties and directorates to share what the organisational action plans are, and offering opportunities to give feedback on what is being done within each area.


“In terms of sharing the results, the team at People Insight did a phenomenal job at getting some of the key themes and highlights from the staff survey at an organisational level, so we could reinforce the momentum and actually share what our employees were saying about working at the university.”

Laurie Gallagher – Staff Survey & Data Manager

Start today!

We’re excited to continue partnering with King’s College London on their staff listening program. After a six-year break, King’s deserves recognition for restarting staff surveys with such passion and enthusiasm. Together, we’re shaping their long-term engagement strategy, incorporating regular surveys (annual and pulse) and integrating data outputs with our in-house consultancy.

Ready to begin your journey to workplace excellence? Contact us today and kickstart your journey, just like King’s College London did! 🚀