Last night I was watching Zembla, a documentary program on Dutch national television. The documentary “Balkenende norm top 2000” did show a nice example of insight by data: higher top salary has negative impact on the performance of an organization!
Dutch research on public paid salaries
Research was done in Holland where since a couple of years there is the “Balkenende norm”. This is a guideline introduced by former prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende. The guidelines states top salaries in (semi) government organizations should be no higher than the salary of the prime minister.
The program did research and showed the top 2000 of salaries in health care, universities, public television and so on. All of them are higher than the salary of the prime minister, which is about 190.000 euro’s a year.
At university of Tilburg scientist Fons Naus did research on the correlation between the performance of organizations and the top salaries (read report in Dutch). He collected public data on the performance and top salaries of health care organizations and did find a negative correlation between performance and top salaries. His explanation is the top salaries do create cynicism amongst employees. They don’t understand why the leaders of the organization are earning that much and loose trust in them.
Documentary uses animation to visualize the data
Results were published in a nice looking and smooth animation. It shows the facts on the amount of salaries, the logos of the public organizations paying the salaries, and symbols representing the branche of the organization (e.g. an ambulance for health care).
The animation is a great way to get rid off a boring table. But I did not find the data visualization very useful in creating new insights. In a next blog I might get back with an example how to present the same data in a different way.