International Employee Survey In The Pharma Industry - Custom Made By Honestly

In a multinational environment like Octapharma crafting an effective employee survey is met with several challenges. There are employees from many countries speaking different languages, operating with different national and organizational cultural norms across a wide geographic area. After a prolonged period without surveying the employees, Octapharma cared deeply about finding the right tone to engage employees, leaders and works councils alike to make this project a success. The goal of the survey was to set the stage for a more employee oriented culture which is meant to position Octapharma as an attractive employer within the competitive pharmaceutical industry.


  • Octapharma is a multinational that decided to survey its employees again after a multi-year focus on different priorities.
  • Due to its international structure and high percentage of production workers with limited access to corporate email accounts the approach to the survey had to be flexible and innovative in order to reach everyone.
  • Individual consulting by Honestly experts led to a solution that satisfied high qualitative, cultural and organizational standards without compromising data security.
About Octapharma

Established in 1983 and family owned since, Octapharma is a global healthcare company with over 9000 employees headquartered in Lachen, Switzerland. Its products are available in 118 countries and reach hundreds of thousands of patients every year. Octapharma focuses on three therapeutic areas: haematology, immunotherapy and critical care. Octapharma is one of the largest human protein product manufacturers. The company develops and produces medicines based on human proteins from human cell lines and human plasma, sourced from its own plasma donation centres and other external sources.


Octapharma Case Study

  • image description Registered Users: 4070
  • image description Registered Managers: 20
  • image description Pulse Cycle: Yearly
  • image description Languages: German, Swedish, French, English
  • image description Surveys: Yearly employee survey across Europe
  • image description Engagement before Honestly: -

Distinctive Use of Honestly:

  • Custom-made questionnaire which complements previous local surveys and summarizes their commonalities
  • Seamless integration of questionnaires for production workers without corporate email accounts
  • Consulting services to create a survey tailored to Octapharma’s requirements
We were particularly drawn to the high technical flexibility and the ability to focus on our needs and requirements 100%.
Wolfgang Hofmann
Wolfgang Hofmann Global Head of Learning & Development Octapharma

We spoke to Wolfgang Hofmann, Global Head of Learning & Development at Octapharma since 2017.

Octapharma & Honestly - A custom-made international solution

It has been several years since Octapharma last surveyed its employees. Now the organization has decided to enlist Honestly in support of conducting a survey across several european offices. The primary reason was a growing consciousness that a current and correct understanding of employees’ well-being, strategic alignment and needs would support the growth-path of Octapharma.

More than 4000 employees from Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, France and Austria were going to be asked to participate. About 30% of those work in the production of pharmaceuticals and associated departments. Because their jobs do not require it, these employees do not have corporate email accounts and are thus not reachable through email to participate in employee surveys. Another requirement for the survey was an upper limit of 40 questions within which essential information had to be gathered while complementing existing surveys within the national offices, accommodating cultural differences between these offices and without sacrificing on quality.

To meet these requirements Octapharma decided to complement the standard onboarding onto Honestly with consulting by Honestly’s internal survey experts. This way, assumptions were questioned, understood and prioritized. Over the course of several iterations, a questionnaire was developed that satisfied all the criteria laid out ahead of time. Furthermore, a technical project plan supplemented the onboarding and ensured a seamless integration with Octapharma’s processes and culture.

A tailor made solution in 40 questions

In designing the questionnaire it was important to get a good measurement of universal concepts like employee engagement or relationships at work through scientifically validated items. At the same time, there also had to be room for idiosyncratic information about how well employees understand Octapharma’s corporate strategy or to measure their understanding of the possibilities offered within Octapharma for professional development, which is a cornerstone of the corporation's talent strategy. Once the questions were finalized the project team, under the leadership of Octapharma’s Global Head of Learning & Development, Wolfgang Hofmann, debated and decided the proper order for the questions in order to keep respondents interested and to boost completion rates, while also avoiding artifacts introduced through the order of questions.

It was especially important to get answers from those employees who are not commonly reachable through digital channels. The questionnaire was administered not only through email, but also via randomized individual links that employees received in the mail or that were handed to them directly through members of their local HR department. Given the long time since its last employee survey, an overall participation rate of 60% was considered a success and something to build on in the future.

Surveying production workers? No problem for Honestly.

The opportunity to survey production workers in a way that integrated their results immediately and seamlessly into Honestlys backend dashboards was one of the primary reasons that Octapharma decided against the competition. Although it wasn’t the only one: The overall experience from purchase to the analysis of the results convinced Wolfgang Hofmann that they had made the right choice. Showcasing the flexibility of both its platform and its team of experts in this rather complex case, Honestly impressed Mr. Hofmann, who said “I was particularly drawn to the high technical flexibility and the ability to focus on our needs and requirements 100%. Additionally, the high speed of delivery and the perfect clarity with which our account managers and consultants communicated to us the project plan, next steps and possible solutions to roadblocks was great. The personal touch and commitment ensured that almost all questions were resolved and answered before they could even turn into problems.”

To meaningfully involve all stakeholders in the Octapharma project team and to meet their needs, Honestly developed a mixed-media approach to communication, in which classic emails were supplemented with articles, FAQ’s and custom made explainer videos. This provided the project team with the right tools to ensure that every Octapharma-employee had a suitable opportunity to learn about the survey ahead of time and be well informed about the project's goals, methods and intended timeline before and after the survey, before participating.

A successful first survey with encouraging results

Although the survey revealed some significant confirmation for Octapharma’s past decisions and policies, there were also areas of improvement that were identified. Most notably, the survey revealed that many employees were not aware of the full scope of learning resources available to them. Another learning from the survey was that employees and managers did not talk often enough about the co-creating of work spaces and jobs for their mutual benefit. These and several other learnings were transformed into project initiatives following the survey. In the coming months these will be followed up on by the local offices and their management teams to improve the underlying causes. “We wish to focus and target a smaller number of improvements that we intend to get as right as possible as fast as possible. Initially we were worried whether we could repeat these surveys on a yearly basis - but after our great experience this year we have decided to extend our contract with Honestly and started planning for our next survey immediately.”, explains Wolfgang Hofmann.

In addition to the now yearly employee survey in Europe, other corporate offices within the Octapharma Group have caught wind of the successful projects and approached Honestly about supporting their local survey projects. The goal of becoming a data-driven and employee-focused business, in either case, has certainly come a lot closer for Octapharma in the past year.


Despite some cultural and organizational challenges, we succeeded in creating a valid and effective employee survey. With it, Octapharma changed itself successfully towards an even more employee-focused corporation. Through consulting, custom technical solutions to better include production workers and the flexibility to pay homage to Octapharma’s history and culture, its first employee survey in a long time became a success.

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