Reflections on the Quality of Work Life Survey Results

Written by Brad Long.

On September 28 2015, the StFX administration released the results from the Quality of Work Life survey that took place across campus last March, announced in a press release  in which a link to the full report may be found.

The StFXAUT Executive has read this report and takes little comfort in the fact that our results “are similar to those found in The Globe and Mail national study” (p.6). From amongst the main findings, we learn that “59% of the employees fell into the category of ‘I’m frustrated’ or greater for the THI [Total Health Index] index” (p.2). Moreover, “75% of the employees were found to be at a moderate risk level or greater for stress” (p.2). The largest contributor to this high level of stress is a belief that the university’s administration and operations are not working effectively (p.9). In addition, the data leads the report authors to conclude that the number of employees experiencing mental health issues “will most likely continue to negatively trend” (p.21). Overall results point to both a culture gap and a health gap, as noted in the university press release, but it is unclear how measures such as “evaluating career performance and career progression policy” (press release) will correct the deficiencies in our university culture. We call for a more active strategy for addressing the health challenges of employees that does not shift the burden for their resolution onto employees through “actions that individuals can take to improve their health” (press release). It is also unclear how developing our financial literacy will respond to the significant financial instability experienced amongst StFX employees – the largest factor to negatively impact employee health, even though 89% of respondents reported being full-time employees. Finally, we take some exception with the claim that a “significant portion of the workforce was engaged in this activity and interested in the opportunity to drive change” (p.2). Considering that many non-supervisory staff were ushered into computer labs to complete this survey, it is impossible to determine whether employee participation was entirely voluntary and an expression of significant engagement in this activity. In sum, the StFXAUT is pleased to see some attention be paid to the quality of work life of our members, but the next steps are the ones that will matter most. We look forward to the implementation of concrete measures that will reduce stress, improve health, restore trust and ameliorate  the workplace environment for all employees.