Sustainable Workforce

A large, EU-funded collection of data in 9 European countries and the USA

Customer: University of Utrecht

Sustainable Workforce is a unique research project focusing on corporate investments in the fields of human and social capital, the management of a work-life balance, flexibility at work, the long-term employment of mature staff members and flexicurity in nine European countries, as well as the USA. The project is carried out by a team of researchers led by sociologist Prof. Tanja van der Lippe of the University of Utrecht, Netherlands. Bright Answer produced the software for this ambitious online research project.


Several different online questionnaires have to be administered twice within the period of one year to hundreds of organisations and thousands of employees based in Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The project involves a multi-level research design, three main longitudinal questionnaires with complex routing procedures, which must also be available as a PDF download for offline completion, and several procedures involving vignette experiments using multidimensional randomisation.


At Bright Answer we place great emphasis on the initial analysis and clarification phases of a project. In order to provide affordable solutions for scientists, a very clear idea of customer requirements is necessary so we can come up with an accurate and economical price offer. In the case of Sustainable Workforce, before we even presented our offer we spent time designing a feasible and affordable solution for the vignette experiments. Together with the researchers we discussed implementation proposals until we became certain we would be able to create a working solution that would be able to accommodate all of the proposed experiments, without it being necessary for the researchers to take a large number of shortcuts. After receiving the bid for the implementation of the study, we continued our collaboration with the customer in short feedback loops to ensure that only what was needed was implemented and only in the exact way it was needed. This approach has proven itself to be very helpful in all phases of our projects, from analysis to development and testing.


The Sustainable Workforce software is based on our SurveyLab framework. SurveyLab is like our own special Lego set, a collection of different building blocks we can use to construct survey applications. Thanks to SurveyLab, we were able to provide a good part of the features of the Sustainable Workforce software straight out of the box. For other applications we developed new plugins for SurveyLab, for example a plugin for vignette experiments. However, other applications involve adapting existing solutions to the specific case at hand. An example of this is the PDF generator for offline questionnaires. SurveyLab has a module that creates attractive questionnaires from online surveys on the spot. In the case of Sustainable Workforce, some skip logics required better texts, and we implemented some customer-specific branding elements for the print questionnaire.

Since the project went live in May 2015, the system has sent out 41,000 automated e-mails and over 11,000 participants in 10 countries have filled in at least one of the questionnaires.


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