Evidence Case Study: Sainsbury’s 


The following case study was provided as part of the evidence for the effectiveness of employee engagement strategies in improving performance, productivity and, in the private sector profitability.  It has been used cumulatively with other submissions compiled by many leading companies and organisations to leave little room for doubt about the statistical importance of engaging employees.

This particular case study is an additional support to The Evidence Paper


Founded in 1869, Sainsbury’s is the third largest supermarket chain in the UK with over 150,000 colleagues and 1000 stores and depots.

Sainsbury’s complete an internal engagement survey, Talkback, where they measure their colleagues’ engagement with the business and then seek links between highly engaged stores and the stores’ performance.

Every colleague completes the survey at least once a year but they complete it on a rolling basis every quarter so that they are able to keep a temperature check on engagement and identify any peaks or troughs quickly. This also allows them to pull together sufficient data to make the results meaningful and gives them time to act on the feedback.

Sainsbury’s received consistently high colleague engagement scores, however they felt there was more they could do; specifically understanding the impact it was having on the business.

In 2011, supported by Engage, Sainsbury’s re-engineered the survey to ensure that they were not only measuring what was really important to colleagues, but also that the survey was more aligned with what they were trying to achieve as a business. Looking at the linkage between engagement and key business metrics so that they could better understand the impact that engagement has.

They did this by looking at two things simultaneously: analysing patterns between engagement and business metrics to see if there were any signs of correlation. At the same time they checked all other information to see if there were any others factors impacting these patterns – store size for example.


They found that colleague engagement had a positive and significant impact on sales growth, believing that the level of engagement can contribute up to 15% of a store’s year on year growth.

The statistical modelling has convinced a number of their leaders who have a mathematical and statistical bias, however they believe the real proof internally has been the internal case studies, which demonstrate the point.

‘Our 150,000 colleagues are the key to the success of our business, which is why we work hard to build and maintain high levels of trust with our colleagues. Great two-way communication and a high degree of involvement has meant that we have been able to consistently improve our levels of engagement, even against a challenging economic backdrop. And we can see a clear link between these higher levels of engagement and our sales performance.’                                       

Justin King, Sainsbury’s CEO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. I am reading some of these your interesting case studies and they a worthy materials to refer to in scholarly articles. Are these case studies contained in a book you publishhed in 2021 and if yes what is the name of the book and how can I get an e-copy. I am a M.Sc student.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to get the latest news, events, podcasts and more!