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By The Numbers

Workplace Survey, Findings

1.Workers are struggling to work effectively. 

When focus is compromised in pursuit of Collaboration, neither works well.

2. Effective workplaces balance focus and collaboration. 

Workplaces designed to enable collaboration without sacrificing employees’ ability to focus are more successful.

3. Choice drives performance and innovation. 

Employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work are seen as more innovative and have higher-performing employees.


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New research from the University of British Columbia's business school suggests men and women perceive conflict between two women co-workers as being more harmful and doing more irreparable damage than conflicts between men.

According to research from the Sauder School of Business recently published in the Academy of Management Perspectives journal, both men and women assume that an office disagreement between two women will have more negative impacts and be harder to repair than a disagreement between two men or a man and a woman.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 April 2013 22:35


24 Country Survey of Workplaces finds Employees in United States (64%) and Canada (60%) Agree Most Employees in Argentina (44%), Mexico (43%), Hungary (42%) and Spain (38%) Most Likely to Disagree

A global average of half (47%) of employees in 24 countries agree their current workplace is a ‘psychologically safe and healthy environment to work in’ finds a new survey conducted by global research company Ipsos for Reuters News. A further three in ten (27%) disagreed while one quarter (26%) place themselves in the middle of their assessment.


The United States and Canada ranked highest of the 24 nation workplaces to have the psychologically healthiest workplaces, according to employees in those countries. A majority of Americans (64%) and Canadians (60%) agree with the statement. They are followed by majorities in: India (57%), Australia (56%), Indonesia (55%), Great Britain (55%), South Africa (55%), China (54%), Turkey (53%) and Brazil (52%).


Three in ten (27%) global employees gave their workplaces the lowest marks for being psychologically safe and healthy with those workers from Argentina (44%), Mexico (43%), Hungary (42%) and Spain (38%) reflecting the strongest disagreement followed by Russia (36%), Poland (35%) and France (32%).

Demographically, those most likely to agree with the statement (rate 7, 8, 9 or 10) have a high household income (52%), have completed a high level of education (51%) and are over the age of 50 (50%).


Conversely, those most likely to disagree (rate 1, 2, 3 or 4) have a low household income (31%), have low or medium education (28%).


Ipsos surveyed a total of 14,618 employees in 24 countries to rate on a scale of 1 to 10, (where 1 means strongly disagree and 10 means strongly agree) how strongly they agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘Overall, my current workplace is a psychologically safe and healthy environment to work in.’


The top group of employees were those who scored at least 7 out of 10, the second group was in the middle range (rate of 5 or 6 out of 10) and the lowest or most likely to ‘disagree’ group rated their workplace as a 1, 2, 3 or 4 out of 10.


Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 14:33


Which university should you choose if your goal is to get a job when you graduate?


The question is surprisingly difficult to answer. Raw job placement numbers confound the myriad factors that influence labour market success. For example, students from Mount Royal University graduate into the Alberta labour market, while students from University of Windsor head into the Ontario labour market. That makes more of a difference to the students’ job market prospects than the quality of their undergraduate instruction.


Reliable information comparing the long-term success rates of graduates across universities is extremely hard to find. Universities lose track of their alumni, especially the unsuccessful ones. Government surveys, such as the Census, collect information about a person’s field of study, but not the name of their undergraduate university.


Consequently, I was fascinated when I stumbled across an obscure table -- “Appendix Table 3” -- while reading about a study carried out by Philip Oreopoulos three years ago.


The original purpose of Professor Oreopoulos’s research had nothing to do with assessing various universities. He wanted to find out whether or not immigrants, and people with non-European names, were at a disadvantage in the labour market. His research team created 6,000 artificial resumes, some with names like Carrie Martin, and some with names like Fang Wang. Each fabricated job applicant was set up with an e-mail account -- carriemartin@gmailcom, say. The research team then used the invented resumes and e-mail accounts to apply for real jobs, identified by searching through sites like

The imaginary job applicants needed educational credentials, so the research team used a computer program to assign a university degree to each resume. Some listed degrees from universities outside of Canada. My focus here is on the 3,000 plus resumes that listed degrees from one of six Canadian universities: Brock, Queen’s, Ryerson, University of Toronto -- Mississauga, University of Toronto, and University of Waterloo.


For resumes submitted under English-sounding names, such as Michael Smith and Jill Wilson, the choice of university did not seem to matter very much. For example, 15.8 per cent of the job applications listing a degree from University of Toronto Mississauga led to an email saying “would you like to come in for an interview?” as compared to 13.6 per cent of those listing a University of Toronto degree. That difference is so small that it might just reflect random variation -- some typos on the University of Toronto resumes, for example.


One possible take-away from this finding is that a person with an English-sounding name can choose any undergraduate institution and do just fine. The fictitious resumes in the study, however, also listed four to six years of high quality, relevant, work experience. My alternative take-away is that employers focus on the last thing on a person’s resume, and place more weight on a person’s most recent work experience than his undergraduate education.


For resumes submitted under non-European names, such as Maya Kumar and Ali Saeed, the choice of university seems to matter more. Resumes listing degrees from research intensive universities such as University of Waterloo and Queen’s were significantly more likely to generate call-backs than degrees from more teaching-oriented institutions. Interestingly, resumes listing a degree from University of Waterloo, Queen’s and University of Toronto had similar call-back rates whether they were submitted under an English-sounding name or a non-European one.


A university degree is a signal, an indication of the type of person a potential employee is, and the abilities he has. The results reported here suggest that employers interpret signals differently, depending upon who sends them. If a job candidate is smart, well-qualified, and a little bit lucky, she might still get ahead. If she’s not, it’s a tough labour market out there.


Author's note: While the numbers reported here are taken from Professor Oreopoulos’s research, the interpretation placed upon them is entirely my own.


Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 14:33


Consumers are placing an even greater premium on quality customer service this year. In a stronger economic environment, seven in ten Americans (70%) are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. This is up substantially from 2010, when six in ten Americans (58%) said they would spend an average of 9% more with companies that deliver great service.


But despite the greater value Americans are placing on customer service, many businesses don’t seem to be making the grade with consumers.


  • In fact, six in ten Americans (60%) believe businesses haven’t increased their focus on providing good customer service – up from 55% in 2010.
  • Among this group, 26% think companies are actually paying less attention to service.


These findings were released today in the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, a survey conducted in the U.S. and nine other countries exploring attitudes and preferences toward customer service.


“Getting service right is more than just a nice to do; it’s a must do,” said Jim Bush, Executive Vice President, World Service. “American consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide outstanding service, and they will also tell, on average, twice as many people about bad service than they will about good service. Ultimately, great service can drive sales and customer loyalty.”


Read full article

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 14:33


What is happiness? Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, wrote, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” John Lennon had a different take: “Happiness is a warm gun.”
Whatever happiness is to you, there’s some conditions under which it most readily blossoms. You need enough money to acquire a puppy or a gun, and enough free time to exalt in its warmth. You need the peace of mind that Big Brother isn’t about to come around the corner and take your gun (or puppy) away from you. And because fun things are even more fun when shared with others, you’ll be even happier if you have a family that encourages your passion, or at least a local chapter of the NRA or Kennel Club to hang out with.
A few years ago the directors of the Legatum Institute (part of billionaire Christopher Chandler‘s Dubai-based Legatum Group) were thinking about the wealth of nations. “We found ourselves asking two questions,” says spokesman Julian Knapp.  “First, why have some nations — given a similar start — become more successful and wealthier than others? And having recognized that life is about more than simple material satisfaction, the second question: why are some nations happier and more satisfied than others?” Indeed why had Ghana and South Korean, having shared similar GDP’s in the 1950s, gone in such different directions, with Korea’s now $39,000 per capita and Ghana’s just $3,000.
After studying 40 years of data and outcomes, they settled on eight areas – the ingredients of prosperity: economy, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom andsocial capital. Then they looked for reliable data from the likes of the Gallup polling organization that would let them rank countries on their performance in these areas. Add up the scores and you get the Legatum Prosperity Index.
In its recently released 2011 index, billed as an “inquiry into global wealth and well being,” Legatum ranks 110 countries on their overall level of prosperity. These countries comprise 93% of global population and 97% of GDP.
At No. 1 for the third year in a row: Norway. What’s it got that the rest of the world doesn’t? For one thing, a stunning per capita GDP of $54,000 a year. Norwegians have the second-highest level of satisfaction with their standards of living: 95% say they are satisfied with the freedom to choose the direction of their lives; an unparalleled 74% say other people can be trusted.
Cynics say Norway’s ranking is a fluke, that it’s a boring, godless (just 13% go to church), homogeneous place to live, with a massive welfare state bankrolled by high taxes. Without massive offshore reserves of oil and gas that it exports to the world through state-controlled Statoil, Norway’s GDP would be far smaller.
Natural resources help: Australia, which ranks third, is benefitting greatly from selling its coal, iron and natural gas to China. And yet some of the most resource-reliant nations, like Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, are far down the list. There’s clearly more to it than oil and ore. JoiningNorway and Australia in the top 10 are their neighbors Denmark, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand. Equally small and civilized Switzerland and the Netherlands are also up there. Rounding out the top 10 is the United States at 10th and Canada sixth.
What do these nations have in common? They are electoral democracies, for one. People are naturally happier when they feel like they have a say in how their countries are run. They also have abundant civil liberties (consider decriminalized drugs and prostitution in the Netherlands), though if your happiness is a warm gun you’ll be happier in the U.S. than in Europe. There are few restrictions on the flow of capital or of labor. Legatum’s scholars point out that Denmark (No. 2), for example, has little job protection, but generous unemployment benefits. So business owners can keep the right number of workers, while workers can have a safety net while they muck around looking for that fulfilling job.
Legatum’s researchers note that Australia’s rise from fifth in 2009 to third place exemplifies these positive traits. The Aussies have abolished trade protections, freed labor markets, reformed strict immigration laws and become one of the world’s most flexible economies.
Of perhaps utmost importance, nearly all the nations in the top 10 are adept at fostering entrepreneurship and opportunity. Legatum’s researchers concluded that a country’s ranking in this area is the clearest proxy of its overall ranking in the index. This means low business startup costs, lots of cellphones, plenty of secure Internet servers, a history of high R&D spending and the perception that working hard gets you ahead. The U.S. stands out with a fifth-place rank in entrepreneurism and first place in health, thanks to the world’s highest level of health spending, great vaccination levels, clean water, plentiful food and beautiful scenery.
It’s worth noting that there are some countries plagued by autocrats or natural disasters that don’t show up on the list. Burma, Cuba and North Korea don’t allow pollsters in to survey citizens. Other restive countries where sufficient data was unavailable are Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Haiti.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the three years of the Legatum Index is  India. Since 2009 it has dropped 13 spots to 91st place. Per capita GDP is low at $3,600. Health care is extremely poor with high malnourishment and infant mortality and low vaccination rates. It lags in education with a literacy rate of 64%. In social capital, India ranks 104th; only 60% say they can rely on family or friends in a time of need. Only 21% find other people trustworthy. Social inequality perpetuated by a caste system means low levels of entrepreneurship and opportunity.
India might well wish it had Europe’s problems. Yet although Europe holds 14 of the top 20 slots in the index, not all is peachy. Ireland and Belgium have sagged two spots in the rankings since 2009; Italy and Greece are down four spots. Citizens in a number of European countries expressed flagging confidence in their governments as parliamentary power over economic decisions has been ceded to Bruseles. Legatum’s researchers also noted surprise at a drop in personal freedom rankings in Finland and Sweden, which show slightly less tolerance for immigrants and minorities. Expect worse results for Europe next year.
It’s important to note that prosperity/happiness is not a zero-sum game; every country can improve simultaneously. Legatum notes that during the past three years scores have increased for 87 of 110 countries even if their overall ranking hasn’t risen at all. For instance, the more cell phones and Internet connectivity a country has the more opportunities they have to create networks. According to Legatum’s report, we all get more out of Facebook and Twitter than we realize: “Social networks are an asset that produces economic and wellbeing returns.”
For the most beleaguered countries, every little bit matters. An extra thousand dollars a year of income might not mean a lot to a Norwegian, but in the Central African Republic, where the average person gets by on $2 a day, it’s huge. Happiness there isn’t a puppy or a warm gun, it’s not having to bury your newborn before his first birthday.


Last Updated on Thursday, 15 November 2012 14:33