Notes on the “Benefits” Survey

From Aaron Schutz:

The survey contains forced choice questions.  And you can’t skip any of them.  Anyone taking it cannot avoid picking the kinds of benefits wanted and by implication, not wanted, from the options.  I’m not sure whether it is better to complete it or not, but the data is clearly designed to inform cuts in benefits.  The very structure of the survey means that the report will necessarily illuminate those benefits that few faculty chose as most important.    

To put it another way, why would they even bother asking questions that ask us to choose the benefits we prefer instead of simply asking how important each benefit is for us on a Likert scale.  The scale would allow respondents to value all of them.  The very structure of the report of this data, regardless of what is intended, will imply that some benefits are perceived as less important by us “clients” and, because they are less important, areas for cuts.    Simply answering the questions gives ammunition to those who want to cut benefits  because the structure of the survey requires you to distinguish between most and least important.  

Here is the first question that you must choose “one” from:

           Healthcare benefits (medical, dental, vision)
           Retirement savings plans (WRS, 403b, 457)
          Type / variety of work
          Stable employment

Many people are actually forced to choose among these things.  A stable job without healthcare?  A job with healthcare but no retirement system?

So one needs to ask, why would they create a survey with this kind of structure?  What does it mean about what they want to do with it?  Are they confused, not realizing that the report will inevitably highlight which benefits that faculty don’t choose as important?  What if no one chooses healthcare over another benefit?  Does that mean we don’t want access to healthcare?

Imagined line from the report:  “The survey indicated that healthcare was the least important benefit to faculty.”

I can’t advise anyone else, but I won’t fill it out.


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