City staff survey produces $92,000 bill

Post by Mike Klassen in


Invoices & contract for the company who surveyed CoV employees – see document

A citywide staff survey conducted last year and released in November came with a $92,532.66 bill. The first survey of its kind conducted with City of Vancouver staff showed overwhelming dissatisfaction among employees, with only one-in-four respondents giving passing marks for upper management.

Yesterday I conducted several media interviews regarding our story from Monday evening, which released a memo showing that the City was bleeding talent at the top. Three-quarters of the Corporate Management Team had left since Vision Vancouver took office, and an estimated 30% of senior managers across the City had flown the coop.

When asked by reporters if I thought that it was the City's management style might be coaxing people to pack their bags, I couldn't speculate. But I suggested that the two surveys which show how staff are feeling might be an indicator. I'm speaking of course about the survey conducted by Hay Group for $92K, and the internal VACMPS survey released by last August.

survey_monkeyRegarding the Hay survey, the only documentation we have is the City Manager's PowerPoint, and none of the data used to produce it. FOIs requesting the survey data have been filed by at least one media outlet, but the results have yet to be released after several months. The results didn't flatter the team currently running City Hall – i.e. Ballem and Vision Vancouver. The best spin Vision could put on the Hay results were, "hey, at least we did a survey."

But at $92,532, did the get good value for taxpayer dollars? Were other more affordable options considered, such as For $900 the City could license unlimited surveys and responses.

Another FOI that we requested is regarding the City's so-called "Change Management" consultant. Unfortunately that request has been hung up by a technicality, but we hope to present it in the near future.

To our readers, what do you think about the staff survey and its cost? Does the poor satisfaction score admonish the City's leadership, or give it more fuel to drive change? Leave your comments below.

- post by Mike


With over 9,000 staff members, $10 per employee is not a horrible price. I'm sure a cheaper alternative could have been found, but the Hay Group was probably the best decision.

Getting staff opinions is always a good investment. It stings a little with such a large budget short fall this year, but that money could have been trimmed from other wasteful projects.

That money could've fixed a lot of sidewalks...

"over 9,000 staff members" Wow! For a city of 500K? That is almost 5% of the population. Bloat...

Companies/governments hire groups like Hay because employees feel more freedom to answer truthfully -> their responses are kept confidential and management only sees summaries.

The floggings will continue until morale improves...

I worked for a national company that used nothing but Survey Monkey and their were never any issues.

Yet another waste of taxpayer dollars.

Total waste of tax dollars. Good on you for exposing it. Zzzzzzzzz. Where are the MSM on this stuff? Kissing Penny's behind? Keep up the good work.

The Thought of The Evening

`Last time I've checked, my 'Disgustometer` was put on...Vision. It measures local politics in Pennies per square inch.`

I think I`ll miss Penny, this time next year...

...when in Bruges.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

Respectfully Miguel, please check your calculator. 9,000 is actually only about 1.5% of the 580,000 residents. And remember that's total number of employed. I'm not sure how many of those are part time. I'm all for making sure there is not a lot of fat, but I could see the city needing 1 person for every 100 residents on average.

Good point Spartikus. There is not doubt in my mind that speaking out about the upper ranks of this administration is basically a career killer.

Everyone is afraid of reprisals from senior management and politicians. Definitely need an independent firm who can hide the survey results from city management.

I can't really comment on the price, but in the interest of sound science, I do like to make sure the people who conduct the survey are well-trained in how to not write leading questions and to have a deep understanding of methodological issues in surveying such a topic.

The comparison with the cost of the tool strikes me as a poor comparison. That assumes that simply operating the tool will tell you how to write and design good research, which IMHO isn't true and speaks to unfair assumptions about statistics, like those that came out regarding the long-form census cancellation which made headlines this past summer.

with respect to the long form census and for the record:

86% of the population favoured abolition of the census

22% were against abolition

45% abstained altogether.

Check out!

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