Put down the coffee: Workers are using caffeine and sugar to combat stress

March 23, 2018

There is an epidemic of stress nationwide today, with the vast majority of U.S. workers—80%, according to the American Institute of Stress—experiencing on-the-job tension and anxiety.

What they are doing about it, U.S. News reports—chugging coffees (34%) and handfuls of candy, downing alcoholic drinks, resorting to prescription and recreational drugs, and acting out—may exacerbate the problem rather than help to solve it.

In a poll of 751 adult American workers sponsored by The Marlin Company, conducted by The Harris Poll, and cited by the institute, fully 25% of respondents admitted that job-related stress makes them feel like screaming, and 14% said that their stress levels have made them feel like hitting a coworker.

Thus, it is no surprise that 10% of respondents expressed fear that someone they know at work actually could turn violent, with another 18% reporting that they had experienced a threat or verbal intimidation within the past year.

Now, a survey sponsored by Salt Lake City-based Bridge has found that the pressures are growing worse, instead of being ameliorated. The study has found that the 24/7 culture of many companies may be adding to the stress.

Only 33% of the 1,000 U.S. office workers who participated in the study said they are encouraged by their employer to take paid time off, and only 11% are encouraged to take mental health days as part of their sick leave. Most (78% of workers) were convinced that working more hours would be crucial to getting ahead and about 50% reported feeling like they have to engage in workplace politics.

However, U.S. News cautions, be careful what you wish for—and what methods you use to relieve the stress that is generated along the path to achievement. Even coffee, which has some proven health benefits, can cause unpleasant symptoms like headaches and irritability if you drink too much of it, according to the Mayo Clinic.

And Harvard Medical School has warned that, if you eat too much added sugar—in the form of those M&Ms or candy bars—it boosts your risk of dying from heart disease. Plus it goes without saying that alcohol and drugs do not mix well with work.

Instead, experts advise, take paid time off, even if it is not encouraged by your company; unplug and de-stress for a few minutes every hour, exercise for anxiety relief—and plan ahead. Starting the day worried and disorganized can only set you up for more stress; while planning your calendar will enhance feelings of control and competence.

Research contact: info@getbridge.com

Start-ups rely on help of friends and family

March 22, 2018

New businesses often follow the “theory of relativity.” Indeed, 80% of start-ups begin life by relying on friends or family of the founder to help out, based on findings of a study conducted by New Zealand software company Xero and released on March 14.

Researchers who contacted 1,000 businesses discovered that the majority prefer to employ their nearest and dearest rather than risk hiring unsuitable candidates.

And it is no surprise that many of the founders are Millennials: According to the data, nearly 69% of new businesses set up in the past five years were started by those between the ages of 18 and 34.

The study also found that 90% of small business owners believe that setting up shop is one of their proudest accomplishments, with 48% comparing it to the buzz of buying a first home.

When asked what the best thing about setting up their own business was, 51% said it was being their own boss; 38%, being able to control their work-life balance; and 38%, being able to get things done the way they prefer.

Overall, 82% of small business owners said they are now running the business of their dreams

The research marks the launch of Xero’s #behindyourbusiness campaign to encourage budding business owners to take the plunge.

Research contact: USpress@xero.com

#MeToo on Main Street

March 21, 2018

New data show that just 39% of very small companies—those with fewer than five employees—have instituted formal policies related to sexual harassment in the workplace. However, since the #MeToo movement began, 5% of such businesses say they have fired or suspended an employee for inappropriate behavior(s).

That’s not all that many, but businesses on “Main Street USA” are becoming more aware: A CNBC/SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey of more than 2,000 owners released at the end of February found that 50% of small firms overall have instituted a formal policy on how to handle harassment claims.

At businesses with zero to four employees, just under 40% had such policies, compared to 85% of businesses with 50 or more employees, the researchers found.

Eleven percent of businesses said they have issued company-wide communications to remind people of sexual harassment policies and reporting procedures, while 9% say they have reviewed policies around diversity and gender equality in hiring and promotion. In addition, 7% have required new or additional training, and 4% have rolled out new reporting procedures.

Overall, 61 percent reported that they had not taken any of the above actions.

“This is one of those issues that entrepreneurs may tend to overlook, and it’s something that sneaks up on them,” said Karen Kerrigan, CEO of the nonpartisan advocacy group, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council. “They may believe the culture they’ve established is one of respect, and that is enough to send a message that inappropriate behavior is unacceptable and it won’t happen in their workplace. But given the high-profile nature of the issue and how it has played out in every sector, that should be a wake-up call to business

Research contact:@KateRogersNews

‘Carp’ diem: Most workers complain for the equivalent of two weeks a year

March 20, 2018

How often do you bemoan your professional fate? A recent survey conducted on behalf of London-based  working animal charity, SPANA, by OnePoll  has found  that the average employee spends the equivalent of two working weeks a year griping about his or her job.

One in 20 start bellyaching the minute they sit down at their desks. Another 15% admit that they “whine all day long.”

The survey of 2,000 office workers also identified the most common complaints that employees have—chief among them, getting a call for assistance five minutes before the end of the day. Other top gripes included IT problems, air conditioning being too high or too low, and unnecessary emails.

The poll also found two-thirds of people are most likely to sound off to other colleagues, but most are unlikely to do anything about their work worries—with more than two-thirds owning up to the fact they wouldn’t confront a colleague who was annoying them.

Seven in 10 say they often feel irritable at work, and 52% admitting their whole working day can be ruined by just a few small irritations.

Other factors that affect how good a day is going to be include what the commute is like on the way in (35%) and how much work there is to do (43%).  Another 25% say their day is affected by whether or not the boss is going to be in.

The survey was part of a campaign rolled out in cooperation with 72Point, a London-based public relations firm.

Research contact:  hello@onepoll.com

Customers don’t care when a CEO quits or gets canned

March 19, 2018

A prominent CEO’s departure from one of the country’s biggest brands will ripple across the news, sparking lengthy analysis by reporters and talking heads, and often cause a shareholder reaction. But, for the general public, it barely causes an impact on brand perception—confirming that what goes on “under the corporate hood” pretty much stays there, according to findings of a poll by YouGov BrandIndex, released on March 15.

The researchers examined five recent CEO departures from well-known global corporations—General Electric, J. Crew, Lululemon, Starbucks, and Yahoo—to see if there was any notable movement on each of their Buzz scores. Buzz scores are derived daily from asking respondents: “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”

In all cases, each brand’s Buzz score either remained unchanged or moved very little in any direction the week after the CEO announcement. This seems to be the case whether a CEO left voluntarily or under more strained circumstances, despite the media circus that can often surround the latter.

Research contact: ted.marzilli@yougov.com

Who’s hiring in America—and who’s not

March 16, 2018

U.S. employers added 313,000 jobs in February, and the nation’s unemployment rate stayed the same, at 4.1%, according to data released on March 9 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics—which, each month, surveys about 149,000 businesses and government agencies, representing roughly 651,000 individual worksites.

In line with those findings, Bloomberg has compiled a list of the industries with the highest and lowest rates of employment growth for the most recent month—among them:

  • Support activities for mining, up 15% (+6,900 jobs);
  • Petroleum and coal products, up 1.57% (+1,800 jobs);
  • Facilities support services, up 1.36% (+100 jobs);
  • Mining , up 1.31% (+8,600 jobs);
  • Mining and logging, up 1.13% (+8,000 jobs);
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, up .46% (+2,700 jobs);
  • Logging, down .59% (-300 jobs);
  • Textile production, down .62% (-700 jobs);
  • U.S. Postal Service, down 1.03% (-6,300 jobs); and
  • Motion picture and sound recording, down 2.37%(-9,700 jobs).

The good news is that February marked the 89th straight month of U.S. job growth—the longest such streak on record. Still, gains since the 2007–2009 recession have been far from evenly spread across industries.

Indeed, for many Americans, the jobs available were too far afield—for example, mining and logging—to offer much realistic hope of employment.

Research contact: @jordan_yadoo

Sleepless in Miami, Nashville and New York: 44% lose shuteye over work

March 15, 2018

More than four in ten (44%) U.S. professionals admit that they are losing sleep due to work anxiety—either “very often” (15%) or “somewhat often” (29%)—based on findings of a poll by Accountemps released on March 7.  Fewer (43%) say they don’t lose sleep often and 13% say they “never” lose sleep.

Among the top causes for worry include:

  • An overload in work volume/hours (50%);
  • A business problem (48%);
  • Strained relationships with coworkers (20%);
  • Uneasiness about losing job (18%);
  • A nightmare boss (16%); or
  • Some other business-related predicament.

According to the 2,800 poll respondents nationwide, professionals in Miami, Nashville and New York most often lose sleep over work-related issues. Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minneapolis have the highest percentage of respondents who cited they never miss out on rest.

Those who are newer to the workplace—Millennials—lose more sleep over work (57%) than those ages 35 to 54 (45%), or than employees who are 55 and older (29%).

Male respondents say they lie awake often (50%), while women are slightly less likely to (40%) count sheep.

Research contact: bianca.derose@roberthalf.com

Reputation poll: Apple needs polishing

March 14, 2018

The Apple and Google corporate brands have lost their elan—while Elon Musk’s Tesla is rocketing higher after launching a red Roadster into deep space and Amazon continues to ride high at number one in the Harris Poll Reputation Quotient for the third consecutive year.

Since 1999, the Reputation Quotient has quantified the reputation ratings for the 100 most visible U.S. companies, according to Harris.

Specifically, in a survey of about 26,000 U.S. adults, iPhone manufacturer Apple dropped to number 29 this year from its previous position at number five, and Google dropped from number eight to number 28. Apple had ranked at number two as recently as 2016.

John Gerzema, CEO of the Harris Poll, told Reuters in an interview that the likely reason Apple and Google plummeted was that they have not introduced as many attention-grabbing products as they did in past years, such as when Google rolled out Google Maps or Apple’s then-CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

“Google and Apple, at this moment, are sort of in valleys,” Gerzema said. “We’re not quite to self-driving cars yet. We’re not yet seeing all the things in artificial intelligence they’re going to do.”

Meanwhile, Gerzema attributed Amazon’s continued high ranking to its expanding footprint in consumers’ lives, into areas such as groceries via its Whole Foods acquisition.

Elon Musk’s Tesla climbed from number nine to number three on the strength of sending its Roadster into space aboard a SpaceX booster—despite fleeting success delivering cars on time on Earth, Gerzema told Reuters.

He’s a modern-day carnival barker—it’s incredible,” Gerzema said of Musk. He noted that the Tesla CEO “is able to capture the public’s imagination when every news headline is incredibly negative. They’re filling a void of optimism.”

This year’s top ten rankings go as follows: Amazon, Wegman’s Food Markets, Tesla Motors, Chick-fil-A, Walt Disney, HEB Grocery, United Parcel Service, Publix Super Markets, Patagonia, and Aldi.

Last place went to Japanese auto parts supplier Takata, which distributed air bags that inflated with too much force—allegedly causing 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries, and prompting the largest recall in automotive history.

Research contact: @StephenNellis

Now, patient ‘screening’ involves smartphones

March 13, 2018

More than half (54%) of U.S. consumers say that they are “comfortable” contacting their doctors digitally, and that they already have begun to use available technologies, based on findings of a Future of Health survey released by Ernst & Young on March 7.

The main reason for their interest? Less time waiting to for a medical consultation (61%). In addition, cost savings comes in a close second (55%).

The 2,455 adults who responded to the nationwide survey expressed an interest in using technology such as at-home diagnostic testing (36%), information sharing via smartphone (33%) and video consultation (21%).

Similarly, the report indicates widespread agreement among physicians (70%) that digital technologies and data sharing will contribute effectively to the overall well-being of the population.

More than four in five medical professionals (83%) believe that increased consumer and patient-generated data from connected devices would benefit the overall quality of care and offer more personalized care plans.

Two-thirds (66%) also indicate that increased digital technologies would reduce the burden on the healthcare system and its associated costs; and 64% think it would help reduce the burden on doctors and nurses and have a positive impact on the critical issue of burnout.

“The health sector today is ripe for disruption, and these findings reinforce the need for organizations to rethink how and where care is delivered to consumers,” said Ernst & Young’s U.S. Health Leader Jacques Mulder, adding, “Both consumers and physicians are empowered by emerging technology and are hungry for better, more connected experiences. This demand paves the way for nontraditional players to make an impact on the industry, and is another indicator that health in entering an era of convergence.”

The report also indicated that creating incentives for data sharing is a critical piece of the puzzle. While only 26% of consumers are interested in sharing lifestyle information with their physicians, those numbers make a big jump when you add-in incentives. For example, despite hesitation in sharing dietary and exercise information, 26% of respondents indicated that the ability to receive tailored diet and exercise plans would also encourage engagement with digital technology.

Research contact: @MulderHealth

74% of Americans want to ‘spring ahead’ and stay that way

March 12, 2018

Millions of Americans will “spring ahead” on March 11, the date on which Daylight Saving Time will begin this year—however, 74% would like to push their clocks forward by one hour and leave them that way, according to a poll of 1,147 U.S. adults completed last fall by EndDaylightSavingTime.org.

The mission of the nonprofit organization is to “make everyone’s lives just a little better and happier, [as well as] a little safer,” by keeping to one time year-round and enjoying a later sunset from January through December.

In fact, EDST has found, 84% of Americans prefer later sunsets. And, by advancing our clocks in the spring, we ensure that, after work, there is still evening daylight to enjoy during the warm months.

At this point, close to 70 countries worldwide support Daylight Saving Time. While most of us believe that DST began as a fillip to farmers, who wanted more daylight to manage their crops and harvests, that’s simply not true, EndDaylightSavingTime.org, claims. In fact, farmers tried to block the law when it was written in 1919, because changing the clock would disrupt their set rhythms.

The solution, according to EDST Founder Anthony Boldin, is to stop changing the clocks twice a year. Instead, he proposes one single Standard Time all year long—to be accomplished by not performing the “fall back” process at the beginning of the next cycle so that the later daylight hours become permanent. Lastly, Boldin proposes to allow each state to determine in which time zone its residents prefer to belong.

The single time zone idea would eliminate many of the problems caused by Daylight Saving Time, according to EDST. Indeed, Boldin points out, time changes affect our health, sleep patterns, children’s focus in school, and worker productivity and safety. Problems with earlier sunsets include increases in depression (seasonal affective disorder), traffic accidents, pedestrian fatalities, and more crime due to darker streets.

“There is a growing library of research showing the problems caused by time changes and early sunsets,” said Boldin. “Were Daylight Saving Time replaced with one later time year-round, there would be many benefits.”

Research contact: anthony@enddaylightsavingtime.org