Skip to main content
Blue Box Human Resources Human Resources

Human Resources

Increase Text Size
Decrease Text Size
 Change Text Size 

People First Survey Logo

July 25, 2013

Focus Groups and Interviews

In March 2012, we invited employees to participate in the university-wide People First Survey to collect information that would help improve the work experience of faculty and staff. Since the release of the results in October a number of initiatives are under way to address some of the concerns raised. You can read more about these below.

Although the survey provided a lot of information about our strengths and areas of concern, we need to get a deeper understanding of the key issues so we can take specific action to improve the work experience of faculty and staff. As announced earlier this year, the Ryerson Employee Survey Committee (with representation from all unions and MAC) determined the best way to do this is through focus groups and interviews.

Ryerson has hired Harris Decima, a national employee engagement and public opinion research firm, to conduct the focus groups and some individual interviews with a sample of Ryerson's employees.

Harris Decima will contact a random sample of employees at your Ryerson phone number and leave a message asking you to call them. If you receive an invitation, your participation is entirely voluntary and Ryerson will not be informed of your decision either way.


Frequently Asked Questions


What's been done so far with the results and what's coming up?

October 2012: The People First Survey university-wide results were released to the community (check out this executive summary for a quick synopsis). Overall, participation rates and the demonstrated level of engagement were quite high. The top three concerns that were identified as having an organization-wide impact on employee engagement were:

  • Future opportunities for career advancement and development at Ryerson
  • Opportunities to contribute to decisions that impact employees at work and university planning
  • Recognition at the university level

March 2013: Members of the Ryerson Employee Survey Committee worked on developing the RFQ for an organization to conduct focus groups and interviews.

April 2013: Preliminary analysis of equity results completed.

May 2013: Employee group-specific results were released to union leaders and the community.

May 2013: Harris Decima was selected to conduct focus groups and interviews.

Summer 2013: We have been working on rolling out the local results to deans and senior directors. HR Consulting and HR Organization and Employee Effectiveness have been working with these leaders to develop custom strategies based on their local issues.

July 2013: Further analysis of equity group results conducted.

Fall 2013: The Assistant Vice President/Vice Provost Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (AVP/VP EDI) will be setting up a series of conversations this fall to discuss the survey results and explore what is behind the numbers for the equity questions and group responses. These conversations will also serve as an opportunity to discuss the role of the AVP/VP EDI office to address systemic barriers and foster inclusive work spaces.

Return to Questions


What action have we taken so far on the results?

We know you're all waiting to see what specific actions will be taken. Below are a few examples of work that has been taking place behind the scenes that begins to address some of your concerns:

  • Expanded recognition and awards program at the university level, including new awards for non-academic employees. Recognition of service milestones and resources that promote a culture of recognition at the local level are being developed and will be released soon
  • New Microsoft Office learning program to increase employees' skills and open up opportunities for other positions
  • HR Recruitment, Retention and Employment Equity has been meeting with the OPSEU group to discuss transparency in hiring
  • All job postings now include a recruiter's name to allow employees to follow up, demonstrating a people first approach to internal hiring
  • Improved testing processes in interviews
  • New workshops for employees on cover letters, resumes and interview skills
  • Developing an initiative for admin assistants/departmental assistants to develop their skills in their current position or to be more successful when applying for others
  • Updated leadership development programs
  • Increased frequency of new employee orientation
  • Increase in secondments for MAC employees
  • Inaugural MAC Conference providing professional development and networking opportunities

We will continue to communicate with you as initiatives are rolled out. We agree that in order for Ryerson to be an employer that puts people first, real action needs to take place to address the survey concerns.

Return to Questions


How will people be chosen to participate in the focus groups and interviews?

Ryerson will provide Harris Decima with a list of Ryerson employees with their name, department, and work phone and email information. Harris Decima will contact a random sample of employees at your Ryerson phone number and leave a message asking you to call them. You will then be asked if you wish to participate. When scheduling, Harris Decima will not select more than one person from the same academic department/school or administrative unit to participate.

Return to Questions


How will focus groups and interviews be organized?

Focus group sessions or interviews will be organized by employee group, and in some cases separated further by grade, e.g. OPSEU grades 1-5, or by faculty subgroup, e.g. Mode II Pre-tenure. People from larger employee groups will be asked to participate in focus groups and those from smaller employee groups or subgroups will be asked to participate in individual interviews. Each focus group will include about six to eight employees and take approximately two hours. Interviews will take approximately 30 minutes.

Return to Questions


When will these take place?

Interviews will be set up for a mutually agreed upon time, and focus group sessions will be set up for both afternoons and evenings from August to December 2013. There is no compensation for participation but if a session is scheduled during your regular work hours, you can have time away from work to participate and still receive your regular pay for that time.

Return to Questions


What information will Ryerson receive?

The goal of the focus groups and interviews is to build an understanding of common issues faced by Ryerson employees. Ryerson will in no way be receiving any individual information that comes out of a focus group session or interview. 

Harris Decima will keep personal information obtained from the focus groups and interviews in complete confidence. No names will be attached to the results provided to Ryerson. In their research reporting, Harris Decima will summarize their findings by employee group and will ensure that no particular individual can be identified. That being said, while focus groups participants will be asked to keep all information confidential, Ryerson cannot guarantee that other participants will not share information discussed in the sessions.

As with the People First Survey, the focus group and interview processes have been approved by the Ryerson Research Ethics Board.

Return to Questions



Ryerson University is committed to accessibility and inclusion of persons with disabilities. If you require any accessibility accommodations to ensure your full participation in the focus groups, please advise Harris Decima if you receive an invitation.

Return to Questions


Additional Questions

If you have any additional questions, please contact Tamar Myers, at 416-979-5000 ext. 7974, or

Return to Questions


Survey Results

In March 2012 we invited employees to participate in the university-wide People First Survey to collect information that would help improve the work experience of faculty and staff. We’re excited to announce that we’ve received the results from Ipsos Reid, the company that administered the survey, and we are now able to share those results with employees.

Read the memo from Julia Hanigsberg, Vice President, Administration and Finance, and Larissa Allen, Assistant Vice President, Human Resources.


Executive Summary

We achieved a very encouraging participation rate for a first survey of this kind, with 50% of staff and faculty taking the time to provide us with input. In terms of engagement, the survey results are very positive. For an overview of the results, see this summary PDF.


Detailed Results

Employees can access detailed results for each question by logging in below. If you expereince technical difficulties logging in please contact HR Client Services at (416) 979-5075 or

Frequently Asked Questions

Download this page as PDF

What is the People First Survey?

The People First Survey is the first University-wide survey of employee engagement. The survey includes a number of questions that are designed to give a big picture view of staff and faculty personal experiences of working at the University. The survey is part of the Vice President, Finance and Administration People First Agenda.


Why conduct a survey of Ryerson faculty and staff?

The feedback we receive will be extremely valuable in telling us how well the University is doing as an employer, what we are doing right and should continue to do, and where improvement is needed. The University wide results will be shared with all faculty and staff. In addition, in response to this feedback, the University is committed to developing plans and taking action to address identified issues.


Is this survey voluntary? What are the benefits of completing a survey?

Yes. You can decline to answer any or all of the questions. However, your participation is vital for us to get a complete picture of what it is like to work at Ryerson. By completing your survey, you will contribute to enhancing the work experience at Ryerson so we can attract and retain top quality faculty and staff to achieve University goals.


Who is administering the survey?

Ipsos Reid, a leading Canadian market research firm, will administer the survey. Ipsos Reid has extensive experience in designing and conducting employee surveys in both the public and private sectors. Recently, they conducted surveys at the University of Toronto (2010) and the University of British Columbia (2011).


Who will see my responses?

To ensure privacy and confidentiality, the University and Ipsos Reid have taken a number of measures:

No one at Ryerson will have access to individual survey responses. No individual information will be reported to Ryerson by Ipsos.

The survey is anonymous. You will NOT be asked for personal identifiers in the survey such as your name, birth date, or employee number.

Ipsos will only report to Ryerson the combined results of groups of 10 or more employees, so no information will be provided to the University where identification of individuals could occur. 

For the open text questions where you are asked to write a response, Ipsos Reid will code the answers and report combined results of groups of 10 or more. The text itself will not be provided to the University.

The survey and our confidentiality measures have received approval from the Ryerson Research Ethics Board.

For more information, please see the Ipsos Reid privacy policy at


Who developed the survey?

Survey questions were developed in consultation with Ipsos Reid and the Ryerson Employee Survey Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives from CUPE 233, CUPE 3904, OPSEU, RFA, MAC, and Senior Leaders, as well as representation from HR and from Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. A list of the committee members can be found at the end of this document.


How were the survey questions chosen?

Ryerson has chosen questions that will help us to improve the employee experience. Some questions were provided by Ipsos Reid or shared with us from other universities, which will allow us to compare the experience of our employees with other educational institutions in Canada, the U.S. and more broadly throughout the world, as well as other Canadian public sector institutions.


Who is being invited to complete the survey?

All faculty and staff at the University are invited to complete the survey, including Senior Administrators, Part Time and Sessional Instructors (CUPE 3904, Unit 1), Continuing Education Instructors (CUPE 3904, Unit 2), Teaching/Graduate Assistants (CUPE 3904 Unit 3), members of the Ryerson Faculty Association (RFA), Academic and Administrative Support staff (OPSEU), Maintenance and Trades employees (CUPE 233), and Management and Confidential (MAC) employees, including career employees and those who are on contracts of more than four months and who work more than 24 hours per week.


Have my union leaders been consulted?

Your union leaders support this initiative and agree that the feedback will be valuable in creating a better workplace at Ryerson.


Will this survey affect my collective agreement?

No. The survey in no way interferes with any existing collective agreements or the University's collective bargaining obligations. We recognize the unions as the sole and exclusive bargaining agents for their members and their right to bring forward proposals during collective bargaining concerning the terms and conditions of their members' employment, as well as their right to raise issues or file grievances on behalf of their members. The unions were provided written confirmation of our commitment not to use the results of the survey in future negotiations.


Is the online survey accessible?

There are two versions of the survey available. One is an accessible version that displays only one question at a time on the screen instead of multiple questions, primarily designed for individuals who use screen readers such as JAWS, MAC VoiceOver, Windows Eyes or ZoomText. However, anyone can use this version. If you are having any difficulty accessing the survey, please contact Tamar Myers at or call (416) 979-5000 ext 7974.


English is not my first language. Will the survey be translated?

The survey itself will not be translated. Human Resources Management Consultants are meeting with Departments and Faculties to identify and address any unique needs. In addition, you may choose to fill in the survey at home with the assistance of a family member. For any further requests for assistance, please contact Tamar Myers at or call 416-979-5000 ext 7974.


How long will it take to complete the survey?

It will take approximately 20 minutes to complete the survey, slightly longer if the accessible version is used.


How long will the survey run?

The survey began on March 13, 2012 and the deadline has been extended from April 3 to April 10, 2012, at 5 p.m.


When will the results be released?

We expect to release the University-wide results in Summer 2012.


How will the results be released?

The University intends to provide the results of the survey in as open and transparent a manner as possible. We will receive a report from Ipsos with a summary of the University-wide results and make it widely available across a variety of media. In addition, we may conduct presentations and/or town halls across campus.


What will be done with the results of the survey?

Ryerson's leaders are committed to responding to priority concerns raised in this survey. There will be discussion and consultation across the University or at the Faculty/Administrative Department level throughout 2012 to try to get a better understanding of issues raised and identify initiatives to address those issues. We expect to be able to start communicating about specific initiatives in early 2013.


Where will I get a survey?

On March 13, 2012, employees with an active Ryerson email address will receive an email invitation from Ipsos Reid to participate in the survey. The invitation will include a unique web link that you will use to access your survey. For those employees without an active Ryerson email address, a paper invitation will be sent prior to March 13, 2012 to your Ryerson office location. The paper invitation will provide you with a web address for the survey and instructions on how to log in.


What if I don't have a computer at work or privacy to complete the survey?

If you work in a high traffic area and would like a more private place to complete the survey, or you don't have access to a computer and alternate arrangements have not already been made by your manager, see the Drop-in Computer availability Schedule for dates and locations for drop-in sessions.


I didn't receive my invitation to complete the survey. What should I do?

If you have not received your email invitation by March 13, 2012, check your junk/spam folder. If it's not there, or you did not receive a paper invitation, please email Tamar Myers, Manager HR Planning, at or call (416) 979-5000 ext 7974.


My colleague didn't get an invitation. Should I give them mine?

No. Each invitation contains a unique web link or user login information that links to your survey. Your colleague should contact Tamar Myers at or call (416) 979-5000 ext 7974.


What if I have a problem filling out the survey?

For technical questions, please email Ipsos Reid at or call them at (416) 572-4447 (please reference Ryerson Survey in the subject or when calling).


When am I supposed to complete the survey? Will I get time at work to complete it?

Managers and supervisors, including Deans, Chairs/Directors, Program Directors and supervising faculty have been asked to ensure employees have time to fill out their survey during work hours. You may also choose to complete the survey at home if you prefer.


I am completing the online survey. Do I have to complete the survey all at one time?

No. If you need to step away from the survey at any time, the responses you have entered will be saved when you close the window. You may return to finish your survey using the same link or login information you were provided in your invitation. Be sure to save your invitation as it contains the web link or information for you to re-access your survey at a later time.


Where can I get more information about the survey?

If you’d like to know more about the survey, you can:


Speak with your manager

Contact your union representative

Or contact one of the members of the Ryerson Employee Survey Advisory Committee:


Ryerson Employee Survey Committee

Tamar MyersHuman Resources Planning tsmyers@ryerson.ca7974
Miriam ComerfordHuman Resources Organizational & Employee Effectivenessm2comerf@ryerson.ca2641
Christina Sass-Kortsak
AVP Human Resourceschristina.sass@ryerson.ca6245
Alan PendletonCUPE 233cupe233@ryerson.ca7880
Don Elder CUPE
Franklyn Prescod
Gabbie Galbraith 6481
Carey Barker MAC
Maurice MazerolleAcademic
Brian Lesser Administration & Finance Management
Rona AbramovitchEquity, Diversity and
Search Human Resources:

Related Info