English National Opera (ENO) exists for everyone, creating new experiences with opera that inspires, nurtures creativity and makes a difference.

The challenge:

English National Opera are a world class opera company striving to deliver opera for all. With a new CEO and Director of People at the helm, English National Opera wanted to nurture a new collaborative workplace.

In 2018 we undertook extensive employee research, which highlighted a number of key issues. English National Opera were keen to move their organisation forward and wanted to challenge their existing values, so they looked to The Survey Initiative for expertise.

Our team of consultants undertook 15 workshops with over 300 employees. Many staff members weren’t keen to engage in the process, but thanks to our experienced team a nurturing and ‘safe’ environment was developed. Discussion soon flowed on various themes, such as ‘what’s important to you at the ENO?’, ‘What do you like best at ENO?’ and ‘What do you need to do your job?’. Thanks to the open discussion, significant trends arose from the workshops, helping us to create the English National Opera’s core values.

The project:


Our team of experts analysed the findings from the workshop discussions and identified four key values.

  • Excellence
  • Creativity
  • Togetherness
  • Trust

As well as identifying the core values, we also created a series of statements to illustrate what each value meant.

Behavioural Framework

Our team translated these core values into a behavioural framework. Here each value was outlined with three different factors; for example: Creativity was broken down into behavioural frameworks for curiosity, ideas and evaluation. Employee behaviour was described on four levels from cultural creator to underperforming.

A new appraisal system was set up, with performance measured on the new behavioural framework. Behaviour at the English National Opera can now be challenged, and a new culture enabling employees to speak out is growing. In the past performers had rarely received an official appraisal and there was a belief that artistes didn’t need to abide by the same values as others. By engaging with all staff, the new set of values and behavioural framework was welcomed by all.

360-degree surveys

The CEO and senior management team were keen to develop their leadership abilities, and all took part in our bespoke 360-degree surveys. Again, the 360-degree surveys were created around the English National Opera’s new set of values and behavioural framework. The ongoing surveys have enabled managers to upskill and tweak their management strategies to meet their team’s needs.

Results and Testimonial:

Vinita Suryanarayanan, Director of People, English National Opera, was delighted with The Survey Initiative’s services. She says: “I was amazed at how their team of consultants managed to engage with a wide range of artistes and get everyone onboard!”

“I’ve never worked on a project like this and their expertise and support has been amazing. They’re always there to give advice and are very efficient in all that they do. I’ve already recommended them to two other HR Directors.”

“The English National Opera is on a long journey of cultural change, but thanks to The Survey Initiative, we’ve already made major strides. Our latest staff survey was a real eye-opener and demonstrated that their work has had a positive effect on all aspects of our workplace.”

To discover more about The Survey Initiative, visit www.surveyinitiative.co.uk.