DJS Research - Review of the Year 2023

23rd November 2023 15:04

 
                 A huge thank you to our clients, respondents, suppliers and employee partners
 
Another year over – and again it’s been a positive one for DJS Research, despite feeling like a more challenging year for the industry overall. We’ve continued to recruit more talent across all areas of the business, have promoted many of our hardworking team and have also seen client growth, particularly within the public sector (with some exciting plans in the pipeline!).
 

We have also continued upon our mission to make DJS Research an even better place to work for our people and for the planet, with an increased focus on corporate and social responsibility and employee wellbeing. This year we launched our first Employee Wellbeing Survey which has given us some great inspiration and direction for future change, and we've become one of 13,000 employers in the UK to pay a real Living Wage to all of our partners. 

We’re also delighted that for the second year running we've been named as double finalists in the Market Research Society’s Research Live awards in the categories of Agency of the Year and Best Place to Work – which is especially exciting as the judges who put us through include clients!

Read on for our 2023 highlights…

 

We’ve continued to grow!

In the past financial year, we have achieved a turnover of £7.6 million, marking an increase of 8% compared to the previous year. Our workforce has also experienced further growth, with 15 new hires (two of them DJS Research alumni) and an equally significant number of promotions in 2023. These include Rachel Hancock and Alex Belcher to Associate Director, Angharad Pearce to Senior Animator and Multimedia Designer and Alex Noden promoted to Research Support Team Manager. We have also seen progression for our junior researchers, including promotions for Gabriela Szymanska and Alex Scaife following the completion of our JRE programme.

 

 

We have continued to put a focus on corporate responsibility

Being a business that is environmentally and socially responsible has never been more important, and this is an area we will continue to shine a spotlight on. In 2023 we have added some additional measures that will help us to look at the planet and our people – as well as run a successful business.

In October 2023 we became a Living Wage Employer joining 13,000 UK employers who pay a voluntary wage based on real living costs to their employees, joining the likes of Oxfam, Nestle, KPMG.

We also became a supporter of the Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter, pledging a commitment to make a difference in our employees’ lives by elevating employment standards in areas such as secure and flexible work, real living wage, excellent people management, workplace engagement and voice, excellent recruitment and progression, and a healthy and productive workplace.

You can read more about corporate and social responsibility at DJS Research including our inclusivity focus and commitment to achieving true Net-Zero emissions within our industry by the year 2026, here

EO is at the heart of all we do - and our partners are leading the way!

This year we celebrated two years of being employee-owned, and we’ve been reflecting on just how far we’ve come in such a short space of time. We started the year as EO Stories winners scooping an award for delivering good engagement and in February, we were chosen to feature as an EOA case study.

We’ve been striving to further engage and listen to our partners throughout our second year, via EO Voice as well as our MyDJS surveys, where feedback and ideas are welcomed from all of our partners to shape the future direction of the company.

Together we have co-created our Strategic Plan and Partners' Charter, and this year our partners' voices have been instrumental in bringing to launch our first company newsletter, DJS Digest. After our partners expressed a desire to have an in-house publication to further unite the company across different teams and geographical locations, DJS Digest was born. The newsletter is a mix of company news, reviews, games and prizes and is a huge collaboration between partners across the company, pulled together by our newly-formed Digest team. Just one recent example of how employees can shape how we do things at DJS!

 

We’re also being encouraged to think like owners and take an active role in understanding the finances of the business. Following on from initial finance training given last year, our Creative Team has worked with Finance to help embed our learning even more, creating an accessible and user-friendly series of materials to deepen our understanding of how a business is run, alongside commentary by our Finance Director, Rich Slater

Our EO status has also meant a pay and pension increase this year,  as well as a tax-free EO bonus -- another great perk of our forward-thinking structure!

One DJS partner, said of the power of EO and the postive changes seen so far: “When you look back over the previous year and you see all the things that have been implemented as a result of my DJS, you just realise how important it is.”

 

 

We’ve strengthened our public sector offer

In the last year we have brought in some key talent to strengthen our public sector offer, including DJS alumni, Matthew Bristow who has rejoined as Research Director and is highly experienced in this area. We have also welcomed Vicky Mulis and Ajit Chauhan, both Senior Research Managers, and most recently, Christian Easdown who has rejoined the company as Associate Director, following a short hiatus. Watch this space!

 

We launched our inaugural wellbeing survey

Wellbeing has been a big focus again for us in 2023 and included the launch our inaugural DJS Wellbeing Survey  – as well as a whole of company sunflower growing competition that encouraged us to take some time out of our day to nurture our seedlings – or just put the kettle on. The results of the wellbeing survey revealed that 97% of colleagues polled believe that workplace wellbeing is important, with 88% of our DJS team agreeing that DJS is dedicated to employee wellbeing and 70% agreeing that we provide useful support which aids wellbeing at work. As ever, we are committed at looking for new ways we can improve wellbeing at work, and our survey has given us all some great direction on how we achieve this, and build upon the things our partners tell us we're already doing well.

 

An emphasis on collaboration and celebrating one another!

Working together and supporting each other wherever possible is a fundamental value of DJS Research and is at the very heart of employee-ownership. Our partners are wholeheartedly behind fostering a culture of support and collaboration – and so it’s no surprise that in 2023 they have continued to support each other, with many sending words of praise and thanks wrapped up in our bespoke DJS thank you cards and superstar badges. Our CATI Manager, Michelle also went one step further, by commissioning our Creative Team to create her a bespoke video to tell her team just how great they are! Read about 'a manager's wish' here.

 

We've been involved in groundbreaking research on EO

In 2023 we have been involved with some groundbreaking research alongside the Employee Ownership Association (EOA), the independent think tank Ownership at Work, WPI Economics, and other stakeholders from the Employee Ownership (EO) sector and academia.

The 'People Powered Growth,’ research highlights the proven benefits of the EO model, including increased profits, the creation of more jobs, increased investment in Research and Development (R&D), as well as greater wellbeing in the workplace for employees and higher engagement. 

We have also been involved in further research titled EO: The Great Employee Ownership Succession Opportunity partnering with Ownership at Work, which our Manager Director, Al Gleed, presented to other employee owners and those interested in EO at the 2023 EOA Conference in November. 

Our Chairman Danny Sims also spoke at the MRS Agency Owners Conference

Since becoming employee owned in 2021, various market research businesses have approached us to know more about our new structure and are keen to learn from what we’re doing. We have attended a number of events this year to share our knowledge and support other companies transitioning to employee ownership or considering it as an option. In November 2023 our founder, Danny Sims was invited to speak at the Market Research Society’s Agency Owners and Leaders 2023 conference about our transition to EO and the far-reaching benefits of the structure for market research companies.  

We have also been used us as an example of best practice when it comes to EO by the The Employee Ownership Association and Social Business Wales. We were invited to speak at their Cwmpas Employee Ownership conference alongside Itec Skills and Employment where we shared our EO story (so far!) as well as our thoughts and ideas.

Cwmpas said after the event: “Employee voice is at the heart of DJS and it’s clearly having significant impact. Our delegates were inspired to hear your story”. 

 

Our researchers have also been making their voices heard!

Our researchers have also spoken at a number of key events and conferences this year to discuss our involvement in research projects and delivering excellent results for our clients. In May 2023 our Research Director, Rebecca Green spoke at the Visitor Studies Group Conference alongside Rachel Collins, the marketing lead for Wellcome Collection, on the topic of taking a more inclusive approach to audience segmentation, while Research Director Jenna Allen presented at the Quirks Media London Conference alongside E-Tabs about how large-scale report automation has made a difference to the way we work.

You can read more about our inclusive approach to segmentation here

 

Finalists in ‘Agency of the Year’ and ‘Best Place to Work’ industry awards

As we mentioned above in our intro, we were thrilled to have been selected as finalists for the second year in the Market Research Society’s and Research Live annual industry awards in the categories of ‘Agency of the Year’ and ‘Best Place to Work’. The awards celebrate excellence in market research and are eagerly anticipated each year with the winners soon to be announced. Speaking about how the finalists were selected this year, the MRS shared that the judges ‘had to make some difficult decisions’ with more than 300 entries to review across all the categories and the standard of entries being ‘extremely high’. Being selected as finalists is particularly exciting as the judging panel included a number of clients! – who we have now impressed!

Read more here 

 

 

Published reports in 2023 

It’s always great to see the research we work so hard on published – and this year there have been several key pieces making headlines including research for Public Health Wales (Use of the internet and digital technology to manage health in Wales: past, current, and future preferences) The Consumer Council for Water’s Water Maters survey and our Inclusive Cultures in Engineering study, which generated a lot of industry-wide interest from both the engineering and professional research sectors. 

We also carried out research for WRAP looking at new ways of grocery shopping that will reduce our reliance on single-use plastics. Our Research Director and Head of Qualitative Services, Gill Redfern said of the project:

“It’s been a privilege for us at DJS Research to partner with WRAP, Asda and Unilever on such an important piece of work towards the collective goal of making the planet a more sustainable place. The insight from the research conveyed clear strategic focus for retailers looking to optimise their reuse and refill offer, as well as lots of practical guidance for its delivery and communication in-store.”

Read more here

You can see all of our published research here.

 

Bringing our partners together 

As well as a garden party to celebrate our second EO anniversary, office bake sales and special events such as summer solstice walks and scavenger hunts, our partners voted on where they’d like to go for a whole-of-company day out, with Chester Zoo being the chosen destination. It was a great opportunity to spend time with colleagues and build relationships with teams around the business, particularly with remote workers and others we don't typically see in person. The feedback we received was great and just confirms how important these sorts of events are for colleagues and our company culture.

Read more about the day and see the photos, here

 

We received positive feedback from our clients

We always strive to go the extra mile for our clients – so to know they continue to be happy with our service is extremely rewarding. We've had lots of great feedback this year from organisations including Canal & River Trust, Waltham Forest Council, who we also used as excellent case studies.

Some of our clients also contributed to our MRS Awards entries speaking about their experiences of working with us, which we’re hugely delighted about – especially as their testimony helped us to reach the finals!

See our testimonials here

View case studies:

Waltham Forest Council

Canal & River Trust 

 

We’ve grown our Opinion Exchange panel and have used it to undertake our own research 

At DJS Research, our in-house panel, Opinion Exchange (OPEX), has experienced substantial growth and in the last 12 months we have harnessed its power to identify sub-segments across a range of sectors and conduct our own surveys. This has allowed us to provide exclusive insight to our clients on a range of topics such as the cost-of-living crisis and the current challenges facing the construction industry.

We recently asked a panel of construction workers about the current challenges facing the construction industry, while Research Director, Gill Redfern, used Opinion Exchange to understand more about how the cost of living crisis is affecting people in the UK and how they're navigating the storm.

You can read more about our most recent surveys using Opex:

The impact of rising living costs on the construction industry

Millennials are the generation affected most by the cost of living crisis, finds DJS Research

You can also sign up to our panel and be rewarded for your opinions at: opinionexchange.co.uk

 

Supported our partners to achieve MRS Advanced certificate

Supporting our partners to develop their skills and deepen their knowledge around market research is of huge importance to us and can be especially helpful in the early career stages. This year we supported Olivia Holt and Alex Scaife in undertaking the MRS Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research Practice, with both of them studied for alongside their DJS day jobs. With support from the Research Academy and from their respective DJS teams they achieved great results and were awarded the qualification.

Speaking about the achievement and her course, Alex Scaife, who initially joined us on a work placement in 2020, said: "I now feel empowered in my ability to work in market research as it gave me such an insight into the why we use certain methodologies etc. It has helped me think empirically about best practice and look at a research problem holistically.”

 

We have shared many thought-provoking research pieces

Our knowledgeable Research Directors know their industries inside out and have this year created a great selection of thought-provoking content and insight which you can dip into below:

 

Another four decades of loyalty

This year we have celebrated four more partners reaching their ‘Decade in Service’ with us! Congratulations to Associate Director, Charlotte Hamilton, Research Director, Gill Redfern, Operations Manager: Field Services, Christine Scally; and Finance Director Richard Slater who all have shown great dedication and expertise throughout their DJS journey. Here’s to the next 10...

 

We've continued to give back to the community

Being part of our local community and caring for our neighbours’ wellbeing is very important to us and part of our employee-ownership ethos. In 2023 we have supported a number of local causes including sponsorship of a number of local sports teams and we’ve also been involved with a number of career events at local schools and colleges. These events, which seek to tell young people more about market research and what a career in it might look like were attended by some of our most senior partners including Managing Director, Al Gleed, Research Directors Rebecca Green and Ali Sims as well as Senior Research Manager Lyn Allen and Research Executive Saffron Goodwin.

 

… and support good causes

We love to do our bit for charity too and in 2023 we have continued to help where we can, particularly in supporting our charity of the year The Air Ambulance Service. At the start of the year, we took part in our annual Get up and Go Challenge to help get partners out of their post-festive lull, while we’ve also enjoyed office bake sales and other initiatives such as Bring Your Dog to Work Day to boost our fundraising. We have also continued our sponsorship of the Market Research Benevolent Fund which helps current and former MR professionals through difficult times, as well as sponsor community initiatives such as the Marple 2023 Family Treasure Hunt and the Whaley Water Weekend.

DJS Research Volunteering Days

Our partners have also done their bit by using their DJS Volunteering Day to support local charities and good causes. This year, Manchester Dogs Home, independent specialist adoption service, Caritas, and Many Tears Animal Rescue based in Llanelli, South Wales are just some of the organisations that have benefited from the kindness of our staff.


Our Creative Services Department has grown!

Our internal data visualisation team consistently maintains a leading edge in creating our digital content, ensuring that our research findings are always presented in captivating and diverse formats. This encompasses concise visual infographics, dynamic videos, animated presentations, 3D visualisations, as well as comprehensive reports and presentations, all designed to make our research materials truly distinctive and engaging. 

Not only do our Creative Team bring findings to life for our research clients, they now offer their services for non-research projects with this arm of the business growing in 2023. This year we've created materials for the British Library, the Active Pregnancy Foundation and Cwmpas, a company that supports Welsh businesses with transitioning into employee ownership. Through our connections in the EO world we also created a video for The Sirius Group to announce their move into employee ownership and talk their employees through the changes. The video combined live footage and animated motion graphics and involved the Sirius Directors coming into the office with a full studio set up and lighting with autocue. 

Want to know more about how they could help you? Email creativeservice@djsresearch.com

 

 

We’re continuing to expand! 

Our remote worker network has given us a presence throughout the UK and overseas in 21 regions, including Scotland and Wales, which is attracting some great new clients (Public Health Wales & National Trust Scotland). This year we have been working hard to bring our partners together whether they’re remote, hybrid or working from the office, creating regional hubs and encouraging collaboration. Our researchers in Scotland have regular in-person meet-ups and this also happens in Kent, where a large number of partners are based. We also have a pocket of Midlands-based researchers, who get together and even car share! 

 

We've had some great feedback from our partners

This year we undertook our fourth MyDJS employee engagement survey which revealed some good scores and suggested areas for improvement, which is the reason we conduct these surveys. Some headline scores included that 95% of DJS partners said they feel trusted to do their job well, while 94% said they are treated with fairness and respect. A further 89% said they would recommend DJS as a good place to work.

In addition to the survey, we conducted some vox-pops with our partners to find out more about how they felt about DJS in a range of areas including wellbeing, progression and inclusivity.

Our partners shared some amazing things with us - which highlight that whilst there is always room for improvement, we're heading in the right direction and our partners appreciate our efforts.

Some of what they said:

 

 

Final word  from Managing Director, Al Gleed

“After the post-pandemic boom, this has felt like a tougher year for the market research industry, but we have weathered the storm – mainly because of some very hard work from our staff/partners, as well as support from our loyal client base. We’re also lucky to have some great new clients from across a range of sectors, with the public sector being a particular growth area. As always, I’d like to say a massive thank you to all of our employees, our clients, suppliers, and the people who have taken part in our research.

"There are too many highlights to mention, but if I was forced to pick a personal one, it would be the company trip to Chester Zoo. A great opportunity for us to all get together, and further enhanced by the discovery that there is a very nice pub in the grounds of said zoo. On that note, I’d like to wish everyone an enjoyable festive season and all the best for 2024.”

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