PYP Quality of Life survey could have some surprises

The Pensacola Young Professionals are staying quiet about the results of the 2016 Quality of Life survey until next Tuesday’s rollout. However, they did give us a peek of what we can expect.

In its press release, PYP shared, “This year’s results demonstrate a moderate downward trend in many areas, with some persistent concerns in areas such as job prospects, retention of young talent, quality of education, and poverty rates. Additionally, the 2016 ratings for the “direction” of the City of Pensacola and job approval of its elected leadership saw a measurable decline.”

Since city voters approved the switch to the strong-mayor form of government, the ratings on the direction of the City of Pensacola and the job approval rating of the mayor have climbed steadily. See 2015 PYP brochure.

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Last January, when he announced his 2016 goals in a viewpoint published in the Pensacola News Journal, Mayor Ashton Hayward touted his approval rating.

“79 percent of the people who responded to the 2015 PYP Quality of Life Survey believe that Pensacola is headed in the right direction,” said the mayor. “A similar number expressed solid confidence in the vision and leadership of the city.” (Note: The mayor is referring to how Pensacola voters responded, not the entire county that is reflected in the charts above.)

Hayward added, “We are clearly on the right path.”

Last year, only 34-percent rated the economic conditions in Escambia County good or excellent. Sixty-percent were concerned about the security and future of your own job, or the jobs of any close family members in Escambia County.

When asked about a shared vision and effective plans for economic development and job, about a third (34%) said it was good or excellent, which was up 18 points from 2014. Those who believed the overall quality of life was good or excellent was also up – jumping from 52% in 2014 to 71% last year.

Since its inception in 2008, the Quality of Life survey has been conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., located in Washington, DC. Each June, Mason-Dixon interviews 800 Escambia County voters by telephone. The in-depth phone interviews obtain residents’ views on the direction of our city and county; the job performance of our mayor, council, superintendent and commission; the economic conditions in our county; and the best and worst aspects of our community ranging from public schools to natural beauty to cultural diversity.

Rishy and Quint Studer have funded the survey for PYP, but PYP works with Mason-Dixon on the questions and analysis of the data.

Yesterday on “Pensacola Speaks,” Quint Studer talked about how some have challenged the survey results over the years: “Somebody didn’t like, it was when Trip Maygarden was involved in PYP, and somebody didn’t like the survey tool. They wrote him a blasting letter. A year later, things got a little bit better, and they didn’t write a letter. They said it was a valid, reliable survey.”

Surveys have been an integral part of hospital administration for years. Studer shared the four ways leaders can react to less than positive results:

1) “When you don’t like the data, you blame the survey or you blame the data,”

2) “You might accept the survey, but it’s not your problem.”

3) “I accept the survey. Yeah, there is a problem, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

4) “It isn’t until you get the maturity, and again, I’ve had this in my books for years, that the first phase of maturity is, ‘Hey, it’s our data. It’s our problem, and we’ve got to come up with the solution.'”

How will local leaders handle the 2016 Quality of Life survey?

Stay tuned.