By Emily Senger - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 0 Comments
Popular in the late 1990s, a new study says they’re a waste of money
Employee engagement surveys became popular in the late ’90s after the Harvard Business Review published research showing a link between employee satisfaction at Sears stores and revenue growth. Today, U.S. firms spend about $720 million trying to improve employee engagement.
Unfortunately, it’s a waste of money, says a new paper in the Journal for Quality and Participation. “The dirty little secret of employee engagement surveys is that they’re largely junk science,” writes Robert Gerst, a partner at Calgary-based Converge Consulting.
The problem, says Gerst, is the attempt to use “statistical significance” to draw meaningful conclusions or patterns from broad survey data. “Just because you can detect a difference between two groups has nothing to do, at all, with whether that difference is in any way important,” he says. The surveys may even mislead managers and find problems where none exists.
Employee feedback is useful if done right. Gerst recommends qualitative research—speaking with actual employees—before developing targeted survey questions. As for surveys widely used now, Gerst writes: “Boiling employee engagement down to a single score means you don’t understand employee engagement.”
By Tamsin McMahon - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM - 0 Comments
A new study on household finances shows that Canadians are struggling even more with their mortgage and debt than they were two years ago.
The Canadian Association of Chartered Accountants annual survey of household finances found that nearly half of Canadians say they couldn’t manage their mortgage and debt payments if interest rates rose. Nearly 30 per cent of those said they couldn’t even handle an interest rate increase of less than two percentage points.
Those are scary numbers, considering that the Bank of Canada hinted today that it is leaning towards raising interest rates, even as other central banks are moving in the opposite direction in response to a slowing global economy.
Here’s few more jaw-dropping highlights from the survey:
* We’re saving less than we did just two years ago. In 2010, 51 per cent of Canadians saved less than 10 per cent of their income, while 14 per cent saved more than 20 per cent. By 2012, the proportion of Canadians who saved more than 20 per cent of their income had dropped to 11 per cent and the proportion of those who saved less than 10 per cent had risen to 59 per cent.
* Nearly half of those aged 55 or older say they haven’t saved enough for retirement, while 40 per cent of Canadians say they don’t expect to have paid off their mortgage by the time they turn 65 and plan to keep working past retirement age to make ends meet.
* Forty-three per cent of Canadians carry a credit card balance from one month to the next, up from 34 per cent in 2010.
* Almost a fifth of Canadians borrow to pay their daily living expenses and nearly half of them still owe money on those loans.
The one bit of good news was that nearly 40 per cent of Canadians felt they were better off financially this year than last year, with 59 per cent of those saying they had paid down some of their debt and 58 per cent saying they were earning more money.
Click here to see what happens to a $300,000 mortgage if rates rise by 1.5 per cent.
By Mary Dwyer - Thursday, November 18, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
Who better to ask than students whether universities are following best practices and making them happy?
There are many ways to measure a university’s performance. The Maclean’s rankings have been crunching the data on a wide range of factors for 20 years. Another approach is to ask those on the receiving end of an education—the students—what they think. In recent years, a growing number of universities have been doing exactly that. The following pages contain results from two major student surveys: the National Survey of Student Engagement and the Canadian University Survey Consortium—NSSE and CUSC for short. Between them, these surveys examine the undergraduate experience—in the classroom and beyond. The findings show that while students are generally happy with their university education, there are key areas of discontent. In particular, a significant number of students feel they don’t fit in at their university, more often in the larger schools than the smaller ones.
Commissioned by the universities, the survey results help administrators assess the quality of their programs and services, which in turn can help them design and implement strategies for improvement. Recognizing that this student feedback can also be useful for prospective students trying to decide which university is right for them, Maclean’s has been publishing CUSC and NSSE results each year since 2006.
By Andrew Coyne - Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 10:40 PM - 6 Comments
EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Which cities provide the best services per taxpayer’s buck? Canada’s first ever study of municipal effectiveness finds some surprises.
Everyone agrees that cities matter. No, they’re crucial. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities notes on its website, “urban economies are where people live, where jobs are created and where most goods and services are produced and consumed.” The Conference Board of Canada calls them “drivers of national prosperity.” Economists such as Richard Florida have celebrated their vital role in fostering creativity, innovation and trade.
At the same time, there is widespread agreement that city governments lack the funding they need to fulfill their responsibilities. Federal political parties have sought to outbid each other in their commitment to Canada’s cities. Billions of dollars in federal infrastructure funding has been promised, with billions more on the way in the form of a share of the federal gas tax. Continue…