Employee engagement survey for students' unions


The employee engagement survey enables students’ unions to measure the engagement and satisfaction of their staff and benchmark results against previous years, the sector and wider charity sector trends.


Bookings for the 2021 survey are now closed.  If you're interested in getting involved in future surveys or have any questions, please contact the NUS Charity team



What is engagement?

Engagement is when staff give of their best each day.  It is when they are committed to their organisation’s goals and values and when they are motivated to contribute to its success.

The benefits of engagement are profound; it can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction, wellbeing, better recruitment and retention.  It drives performance and impacts at individual and organisational level. But it doesn’t happen by chance. 


Employee Engagement Survey for Students' Unions


The employee engagement survey enables you to measure and gain real insight into the engagement, experience and satisfaction of your staff. You also get to benchmark results against previous years (so you can measure progress), peers in the sector, and also against wider charity sector trends.


You can then use the data as a launchpad for deeper conversations with staff in your students’ union, and for identifying and taking action to improve future employee experience.

Now, more than ever during these exceptional times, its important to understand what staff experience is like.  

Participants answer core questions, alongside open questions, and demographic questions.  You can view the 2021 questions here


The core question themes are:

  • Colleagues
  • Communication
  • Employee Wellbeing
  • Engagement
  • Leadership
  • Learning and Development
  • Management
  • Performance Management
  • Reward
  • Role
  • Service
  • Values
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • For 2021, we will also be including a special section on the impact of COVID-19

Agenda Consulting is our trusted partner who helps us deliver the annual survey.  Agenda specialise in helping not-for-profit develop and sustain high levels of employee engagement. Agenda’s involvement offers external expertise and latest thinking on engagement and employee voice.


This year we are also working alongside Atkinson HR Consulting to encourage SUs to access this resource. Atkinson HR Consulting specialise in creating change, building capacity and driving quality people management in values-driven organisations across the UK.  They work with a range of students' unions and charities to provide support around staff engagement and culture.


The survey itself is provided through a dedicated website for your students' union, branded with your logo and colours. Staff complete the survey anonymously online.  The site also has a reporting portal where you can access your results and generate different reports, by department or demographic group, for example. 


Because of our collective buying power, the cost, including its special features, can be offered to students' unions each year at a significantly discounted price. 


The 2021 price is £1,000 plus VAT.


This is a significant saving of anywhere around £1,000-£4,000+ on a similar quality benchmarking survey, if each students' union were to negotiate individually on a product with a consultancy. 


Your survey will go live for a 3-week window of your choice. You simply need to focus on communicating to staff and encouraging them to participate, and you can use an online tracker to check progress. This year the 2021 survey windows are:

  • 18th January – 5th February 
  • 25th January – 12th February
  • 1st February – 19th February
  • 8th February – 26th February
  • 15th February – 5th March

How to take part 

The next step is to complete this form, which confirms sign up and provides NUS and Agenda with the information needed to build your survey


You’ll probably need around half an hour to complete the form, as there’s a number of questions to answer to help the survey build (each question is explained in more detail in the form).  The information you’ll be asked to provide includes:

  • The main point of contact for your survey, plus any secondary contacts
  • Details of anyone else who you would like to access the results portal
  • The URL name you would like your staff to use to access the survey
  • Your access, security and password options
  • Your preferred 2021 survey window from the list of options
  • Your preferred demographic questions (up to 2) – e.g. relating to different department, teams, sites that staff work in and your headcount numbers for each – this will help you to understand your results in different SU areas/teams
  • Your leadership team details for the leadership questions
  • The open questions you’d like to ask staff (you can choose up to three, there are some examples provided in the form)
  • Payment preferences, GDPR and general agreements to T&C’s etc.

Once your SU survey has been built, we will get back in touch with you to ask you to test the survey and check we’ve built it correctly before it goes live. 


If you have any questions about the employee engagement survey, please email:


Sector trends


Over 65 different students’ unions have participated since 2013. In 2020, 28 SUs surveyed their staff and student-staff.  Between them they achieved an overall response rate of 60% across more than 2,500 staff and student-staff. 


In 2020 the movement-wide employee engagement score was a fantastic 81%.


Read this 2020 report into the trends and highlights of the movement-wide analysis of the overall results for the 28 participating SUs.


Case Studies

Bristol students' union

Stirling students' union