October 5, 2007
By Kirk Sibbald
A review looking at University employees’ perceptions of their workplace has wrapped up with “surprisingly positive” results.
Piya Sen, director of budget and special projects with the Financial Services Division, is on the project team that was charged last June with investigating the University’s internal controls. The project was split into two sections, with one looking at “hard” controls and the other examining “soft” controls.
Hard controls are essentially the procedures and policies currently in place. Soft controls, meanwhile, refer to informal or intangible issues such as ethics, integrity, management philosophy, level of understanding and communications.
Although work on the hard controls is still ongoing workshops on soft controls have finished, the results of which show that employees perceive the University’s financial processes to be well-controlled.
In order to gauge soft controls, about 100 employees from various sectors were asked to participate in workshops where they anonymously responded to questions about how they perceived the controls currently in place.
“We wanted to get a feel for how our employees, our staff and our faculty view our controls,” said Sen. “Do they feel that the University is a loose place control-wise or do they feel it’s pretty tight?”
With people asked to rank control statements on a scale of one to seven – with one being weakest and seven being the most positive – all of the averaged results were above the positive threshold.
Areas receiving the most glowing reviews were things such as employee competency and integrity, something Sen explained is vitally important in forming a foundation for hard controls, which will be reviewed next.
The survey did, however, also show some areas that could possibly be improved – namely workloads, resources and communication between different departments.
Although Sen said these results weren’t overly surprising considering the University’s complex and ever-increasing working environment, it does give her division a sense of how to prioritize hard controls in the immediate future.
The review of hard controls is expected to wrap up within the next few months, after which the Financial Services Division will have an overarching view of how to proceed with modifications to current controls and the possible introduction of new ones altogether.