Got this survey question from an employee wellness organization:
Are you worried about you or your employees contracting Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
1. Not worried
5. Very worried
There’s a fundamental flaw with how the question is constructed. Suppose you’re very worried about your employees getting COVID-19, but not worried about getting it yourself. How would you answer this survey item, which combines both questions into one? We should only ask one question… per question.
This also may serve as an example of how Likert scales can be poorly applied. Likert midpoints, when used, usually represent a neutral response (in this case, answer number 3 would be something like “Neither worried or unworried,” or a better option — since it may not be possible to be neither worried or unworried — may have been to include an even number of response choices with no midpoint).
Here, the survey providers essentially offer 4 levels of worry and 1 level of not-worried. They might be able to adjust for this in their analysis, but more typically survey providers generate a mean average score, which will be meaningless in this non-linear scale.
This reinforces what most of us have learned about survey design, and serves as a reminder to consider, when we read results of surveys on important topics (like public health or employer sentiment), how the data was collected.
A headline in the Washington Post (April 26, 2020), based on the researchers’ conclusions at the time, blared, “In New York’s largest hospital system, 88% of coronavirus patients on ventilators didn’t make it.” (As of April 25, the headline wasn’t corrected. By May 5, it had been changed to read “…many patients on ventilators didn’t make it.”)
The ventilator mortality rate excluded from the denominator patients still in the hospital.
After an immediate outcry from others in the medical community, the research paper was corrected in JAMA online:
“The sentence reporting mortality for patients receiving mechanical ventilation should read, ‘As of April 4, 2020, for patients requiring mechanical ventilation (n = 1151, 20.2%), 38 (3.3%) were discharged alive, 282 (24.5%) died, and 831 (72.2%) remained in hospital.'”
This is one example — the cornovirus pandemic has provided many — of the importance of proper denominators.
Denominators often are not scrutinized closely enough by journalists, by businesses, or by wellness professionals. The gross oversight described here reminds us that, without any background in statistics or data science, denominators used in calculations — when, indeed, they are used — are one reasonable starting point (population size is another) when interpreting data.
Is it enough for a job candidate to “show up” for an interview?
A prominent voice on LinkedIn recently garnered more than 17,000 likes with a post that read, in part:
We just hired a Gen-Z candidate with zero experience. Here’s why… They arrived 10 min early for their morning interview (respect ✊), pronounced my name correctly (major kudos), had a firm handshake, dressed sharp, and brought a hard copy of their resume (I didn’t need it). During the interview they smiled, made eye contact, and were honest about having zero experience (we value honesty). They asked me questions, they wanted to learn, they showed up! To all the hiring decision makers out there, don’t disqualify candidates because they don’t have “experience.”
By all means, don’t discriminate against Gen-Z or any other Gen, or against candidates who don’t have experience if the job doesn’t require it. But be smart about hiring, based on Continue reading »
Employers are getting serious about HR Analytics (aka People Analytics). At the same time, many of our wellness industry colleagues demonize data, often cloaking their anxieties behind advocacy ofhumanization.
We’ll hear wellness leaders denigrate data because, for example, “it reduces people to numbers” (which could be the slogan for the International Society of Dataphobes).
But if we let our fears, insecurities, or aversions get the better of us, resisting data as a primary language of business, we’ll get left behind in a world where employers, even their HR departments, increasingly see the promise of analytics. Continue reading »
This week, CBS News, CNN, and other major outlets blared headlines and articles — most accompanied by photos of office workers collapsed face-down on their desks — claiming that burnout had officially been recognized as a disease. The news spread like wildfire but was almost completely unfounded. Continue reading »
The BJ’s Wholesale Club study wasn’t the most important employee wellness research published last month. Let’s look at the Workplace Health in America Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC asked about companies’ employee health promotion programs. 2,843 respondents completed surveys — targeting whoever in the company was most knowledgeable about its wellness offerings — from a variety of employers.
A new year, a new opportunity for an employee benefits trade publication to randomly drop into an article a chart that makes less sense than a child’s finger-painting. (For legit. A finger-painting can’t be wrong. The chart is blatantly wrong.) Continue reading »