A question of engagement: Do your employees want to come to work?

A recent Towers Watson report found that 26 per cent of workers have a bad case of it, with many more suffering milder symptoms. The problem: disengagement. And getting a handle on how to prevent it could be an important factor in giving Canada a global competitive edge, reported The Globe and Mail Oct. 18. The key to encouraging engagement, says André deCarufel, is to “create change that is tangible.” Dr. deCarufel is an associate professor of organization studies at York University’s Schulich School of Business, and executive director of the Joint Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program. We’ve all seen a shiny new thing or philosophy get trumpeted in with great fanfare – think Steve Jobs unveiling the first iPhone – but Dr. deCarufel says that’s not enough. “The CEO gives his big rousing speech,” he says, “everybody gets a T- shirt and a balloon and everyone’s excited – for a week. It might create engagement, but that ultimately gets swamped by other factors.” Read full story.

Does stalled Metrolinx need a boost?
They were called “quick wins” – a list of transportation projects across the region published by Metrolinx in 2007 that could be turned around without the usual long wait and billion-dollar bill. Ranging from bike racks to express bus lanes, the list was meant to persuade the public that the province’s fledgling Toronto-area transportation authority was serious about confronting congestion, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 18. Five years later, it’s not clear the public is convinced, or that Metrolinx has had any impact on the squeeze commuters face, with daily round-trips averaging 80 minutes.  Metrolinx has always insisted the region needs a public debate on financing transit. But there is no public discussion of it at the agency itself and no mechanism for the public to address its board. That creates a serious accountability problem, says Roger Keil, director of York University’s City Institute. An alternative that works in some places, says Keil, is a planning board elected in the same way school trustees are publicly elected. Read full story.

The tricky business of funding a university
When billionaire entrepreneur Ned Goodman announced a major gift this week that will stamp his name on Laurentian University’s new School of Mines, he made it clear how he wanted it spent: directly on student experiences, and not on the school’s fixed costs, reported The Globe and Mail Oct. 18. Laurentian, in Sudbury, has watched other Ontario universities face harsh criticism over donor agreements deemed by some to give private funders too much sway over academic matters. In April, faculty opposition killed an agreement between Toronto’s York University and the Centre for International Governance and Innovation to fund study in international law. Read full story.

Nike cuts ties with Lance Armstrong; Sportswear manufacturer says star cyclist ‘misled’ it
Facing the loss of his championships and with his athletic reputation and personal brand forever sullied, Lance Armstrong has been dumped by Nike after stepping down from his charity, reported the Toronto Star Oct. 18. The terse missive is unlike “what you would usually get when companies face any kind of trouble with an athlete they sponsor,” said Schulich School of Business marketing Professor Detlev Zwick. “If the athlete is limited in terms of his or her brand strength to their sport itself, then you usually get some kind of noncommittal, general sort of corporate statement. Armstrong is a brand that transcends his sport.” Read full story.