The most-hated airline passengers ‘smell to high heaven’

May 25, 2018

Who would you least like to sit next to on a crowded commercial flight? Travelers who lack good personal hygiene or who board with screaming children have emerged as the most-despised Passengers from Hell in the annual survey conducted by and released on May 24.

Respondents were asked to rank passenger types from the most irritating to the least.

According to Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas, the level of frustration about the smelly passenger reflects a decline in hygiene standards. “There has been a significant shift in passengers’ gripes about their fellow travelers, who are either not conscious of their odor or don’t care,” he says.

“With online or cell phone check-in now widespread, offending passengers are slipping through the traditional checks and only coming into contact with airline agents at the boarding gate,” Thomas notes, adding, “The agents, under pressure to get the flight away, let offenders slip through.”

Standards for appropriate wardrobe also have slipped in recent years. However, Thomas notes. “Some airlines, like Australia’s Qantas, now enforcing dress standards at least in the lounges.”

Out of control children are the second major gripe of airline passengers in the latest survey.

On runaway kids, Thomas said that “many parents think that the other 300 passengers on board are babysitters.”

Coming in third and fourth are passengers who recline their seats for a long time; as well as those who hogged the armrests.Indeed, according to the website, “Passenger etiquette dictates that the passenger in the middle seat gets both armrests.”

The increasing amount of carry-on baggage was fifth on the list. Carry-on baggage has become a major problem, particularly in the United States, where many airlines charge for checked-in baggage. On most standard single-aisle aircraft there is not enough overhead baggage space to accommodate all the carry-on baggage.

The cramped conditions in economy catapulted the passenger with the weak bladder into the sixth position. In seventh were the chatterboxes who simply won’t shut up; and in eighth passengers, who exercised in the aisles.

In ninth position was the arrogant and demanding passenger who insists on being served before anyone else and is constantly annoying the flight attendants, who are usually run off their feet.

Finishing in tenth place was the window-hogger, who pulls at the window shade for the entire flight.

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Tempers run hot and cold over office temperatures

May 24, 2018

Workers are hot under the collar over the office temperature. Indeed, nearly one in five (19%) of nine-to-fivers have secretly adjusted the office thermostat during the summer—13% to make it cooler and 6% to make it warmer—based on findings of a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder and released on May 23,

According to the poll of 1,012 full-time workers in the private sector across industries and company sizes, nearly half of workers (46%) say their office is either too hot or too cold.

What’s more, fully 51% sitting that in an office that is too cold impacts their productivity, while 67% say sitting in an office that is too warm does the same.

Fifteen percent of respondents admit that they have argued with a co-worker about office temperature (7% of men vs. 22% of women). Drilled down by gender, findings suggest that women may feel temperature differently from men. Eighteen percent of men say they are too cold; 17%, too hot; while 36% of women are too cold; and 19% too hot.

Broken down by industry, retail has the hottest employees (28%), and healthcare has the coldest (30%).

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Hollywood studios pack heat for summer

May 23, 2018

The Hollywood studios are “packing heat” for this summer, and it has nothing to do with the weather. In fact, according to a May 20 report by Deadline Hollywood, the posters for features opening within the next couple of months might as well be promoting the NRA: Rifles and double-barreled pistols are ubiquitous in the imagery.

Indeed, following recent school shootings in Florida and Texas, the studios may well be “taking some heat” from gun control advocates for the ways in which they are plugging their new releases.

There’s baby-faced Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story from Lucasfilm and Disney, aiming squarely at the viewer with bazooka-size handgun, Deadline Hollywood notes. And just below, a smiling Emilia Clark, as Qi’ra levels a double-barreled pistol; while Joonas Suotamo, Chewbacca, totes the deep-space version of an assault rifle.

Denzel Washington points a pistol with poker-faced indifference on the billboard for Columbia’s R-rated Equalizer 2; and Tom Cruise stands ready to shoot, gun in hand, on the poster for Paramount’s Mission: Impossible-Fallout.

Follow that with Mila Kunis along with Kate McKinnon, her hands posed to look as if she is leveling a gun in the billboard for the August release from Imagine Entertainment and Lionsgate, The Spy Who Dumped Me. Not so bad, but you get the intent.

Will Americans stunned by the violence in our schools allow their children to buy tickets to these aspiring blockbusters? A poll conducted by Pew Research Center in 2017 found that 61% of U.S. adults who do not own guns think that movies with gun-related violence contribute to the onslaught of school murders we are seeing today; 44% of gun owners agree.

And, according to Deadline Hollywood, “… anyone who doesn’t think parents and activists are poised for a fresh assault on Hollywood’s approach to screen violence is probably dreaming.”

Only on May 14—four days before the shootings at Santa Fe High School in Texas—the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania issued a call for a new, PG-15 violence rating.

Speaking to The New York Times, Annenberg’s Daniel Romer, the author of a study by the center calling for the PG-15 rating, said, ““The findings suggest that parents may want a new rating—that the film industry is taking inappropriate advantage of the PG-13 system,” adding, “These movies often get a PG-13 rating by omitting the consequences, such as blood and suffering, and by making the use of gun violence seem justified. But parents of teenagers say that even scenes of justified violence are more appropriate for teens who are at least 15.”

The Motion Picture Association of America, which runs the voluntary domestic film ratings system, declined to comment.

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Jetblack, a Walmart stealth startup, targets affluent urban moms

May 22, 2018

A stealth startup, incubated inside of Walmart, has clandestinely rebranded itself—from Code Eight to Jetblack, Recode reported on May 18.

In job listings, the new division describes itself as a “members-only personal shopping and concierge service that combines the convenience of e-commerce with the customized attention of a personal assistant.”

And soon it will be reborn as a brick-and-mortar enterprise targeted at affluent city women. “Jetblack is currently in beta in Manhattan,” the brand’s current website says. It invites visitors to request early access.

The startup is being led by Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss, who joined Walmart last year to helm the initiative. Since then, Walmart has revealed little about the project.

However, Recode has been on the case for awhile. In January, the news outlet reported, “A new Walmart subsidiary, called Code Eight, has recently started testing a personal shopping service for ‘busy NYC moms,’ according to multiple sources, with the goal of letting them get product recommendations and make purchases simply through text messaging.”

The targeted customers of Jetblack are not among Walmart’s traditional base—white, 50-year-old females with annual household incomes of about $53,000.

Indeed, according to an online job listing, Recode reports, the new enterprise is being marketing to the “high net worth urban consumer.”

Household items are delivered for free within 24 hours; other purchases are delivered within two business days. Returns are picked up for free at a customer’s apartment building or house.

In addition, Recode reports, Jetblack is one of several projects being run under a Walmart startup incubator called Store No. 8. Others include Project Kepler, a startup working to build cashierless stores.

Research contact: @DelRey

Going places: Over 25% of applicants will move for a new job

May 21, 2018

Is your career going anywhere fast? If not, you may want to join the more than one-quarter (28.5%) of job seekers on the Glassdoor website who say they would pack up and start over in a new city for an extra $10,000 over their current base salaries. The recent study was based on 668,000 online applications to the site during a typical week.

Entitled Metro Movers: Where Are Americans Moving for Jobs, and Is It Worth It?,the report  identifies the U.S. cities job applicants are most interested in moving to, as well as the cities with the biggest share of job seekers interested in leaving.

With rich data on the job search process and nearly 40 million reviews and insights on workplace factors at more than 770,000 companies worldwide, Glassdoor claims to have “a unique window into near real-time job search patterns and the cities, jobs and companies enticing today’s job seekers to move.”

The top new destination for job hunters is San Francisco, with 12.4% of those on the move seeking jobs in the seventh largest local economy in the United States. Number two on the list is New York City  (8.4%); followed by San Jose (6.9%), Los Angeles (6.8%) and Washington D.C.(4.3%). Among the rest of the top ten are Boston (3.7%), Chicago (3.2%), Seattle (3.1%), Dallas-Fort Worth (2.8%^), and Austin (2.3%).

The college town of Providence, Rhode Island, topped the list of cities with the highest percentage (52.2%) of candidates in the metro area applying for jobs elsewhere. Specifically, this means that more than half of job seekers in Providence are applying to jobs in other areas, which would likely require moving to a new city.

Three California cities are among the top five being left behind— including San Jose (47.6%), Riverside(47.3%) and Sacramento (44.4%)—along with Baltimore (45.6%). The remainder of the list includes Columbus, Ohio (41.4%), Pittsburgh (44.4%), Charlotte (37.7%), Cincinnati (36.2%) and Cleveland (35.3%).

Men and young workers are also more likely to move, according to the researchers. Men are 3.3 percentage points more likely than women to move. Similarly, a job applicant is seven percentage points less likely to move with each passing decade that he or she ages.

“Picking up your life and moving for a job is a major decision. But in a job market where workers are in high demand and many employers are eager to hire, the employers who understand where talent is heading and what influences them to consider a move will have a recruiting advantage,” said Glassdoor Chief Economist Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, who conducted the study.

Research contact: @adchamberlain

Amazon Prime may lose members following price hike

May 18, 2018

In late April, Amazon announced that it was hiking the price of an annual Prime membership from $99 to $119. Now comes word that the $20 increase could lose the program more than half of its membership, based on findings of a poll of 1,000 current users conducted by Atherton Research , Forbes reported on May 9.

In fact, fully 59% of Prime members said they would not renew when their current pricing expired. The program offers discounted package delivery, access to movies and TV shows, ad-free music, photo storage, Kindle books, and grocery drop-off services.

To date, Amazon says, it has reaped a record $51 billion in sales and $1.6 billion in net profits from more than 100 million Prime members worldwide.

CFO Brian Olsavsky disclosed the price increase on an earnings call, saying it would take effect on May 11 for new members and affect Prime membership renewals after June 16. “We still feel it’s the best deal in retail,” Olsavsky told an analyst

And the analysts tend to agree: “You’re not gonna see any Mad Max-style boycotts, that’s for sure,” Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, told Business Insider for a recent story. “People love Prime, and they already feel like they’re in the money by hundreds of dollars because of the savings, so no one feels bashed in the teeth.”

Prime has created an “emotional relationship” between Amazon and its customers, Schiffer added, which, he said,  makes them feel like they’re part of an elite club.

But that relationship could be a problem if members start to feel that Amazon is not fulfilling their end of the bargain for whatever reason. Business Insider recently reported that some Prime members have become dissatisfied by the frequency with which their packages are arriving late.

“Trust is still the bedrock,” Schiffer said. “You can have an emotional connection, and then feel betrayed, and that emotional connection will get severed pretty fast.”

Research contact: @DennisVerde

‘Having your back’ can save employers’ money

May 17, 2018

An estimated 126.6 million Americans (one in two adults) are affected by a musculoskeletal condition such as back pain—comparable to the total percentage of Americans living with a chronic lung or heart condition—costing an estimated $213 billion in annual treatment, care and lost wages, according to a report issued in 2016 by the United States Bone and Joint Initiative (USBJI).

Back pain alone accounts for 10% of healthcare costs and is a major contributor to lost productivity Therefore, for employers seeking to significantly reduce their healthcare spend, medical and benefits experts point to back pain relief as the low-hanging fruit, Marathon Health, a corporate healthcare provider, claims.

By targeting back pain through wellness programs and low-cost interventions—such as wearables, on-site clinics with chiropractors or physical therapists, and acupuncture—industry experts contend that employers can minimize the much costlier use of medications and major surgery.

Today, employers spend more than $1,200 per employee per year on musculoskeletal issues—almost three times as much as they spend on cardiovascular disease, says Jonathan Edwards, manager of Analytics and Consulting at Verscend Technologies, a Nepal-based provider of data-driven healthcare solutions.

“Our data show that about 35% of that is back-related cost,” he says.

Poor posture is a major culprit and targeting it can be the first line of defense against debilitating back pain. That’s one area smart employers are focusing on.

One of them, Marathon Health reports, is EY Israel, a branch of the global tax and auditing firm Ernst & Young,—which has partnered with wearables technology vendor UpRight to encourage its employees to correct their posture. A device is placed on the lower or upper back and vibrates once it detects a slouch, keep employees conscious of just how they are sitting.

“The reality is that most businessmen and women spend eight to 12 hours a day hunched over at their desks, which leads to back pain, decreased productivity, poor health and missed work days,” says UpRight CEO Oded Cohen “By gradually and consistently training back and core muscles, UpRight helped participants build muscle memory to improve their posture.”

Thirty-one employees participated in a six-week pilot program, during which 85% became more aware of their posture, 71% felt more confident as a result of better posture and 66% strengthened their core muscles. UpRight plans to continue its corporate wellness program with other companies, Cohen says.

Another approach employers might consider, experts say, is to give employees access to chiropractors and physical therapists at an on-site clinic. These specialists can intervene with back problems before costlier medical treatments are needed.

What’s more, physical therapy and chiropractic services are often covered by a majority of employer programs, already,

“Bottom line is a return on investment,” says Mark Niebuhr, a physical therapist with Marathon Health, a company that operates workplace health centers for employers. “If the services that are provided are cost-effective, it will pay for itself.”

Another reason these services are important offerings? They are more cost-effective and safer than relying on opiates and other painkillers.

Claims costs for injured workers who are prescribed opioids are four times greater than employees treated without the use of opioids, according to the nonprofit National Safety Council.

Surgery and associated tests like MRIs will also send healthcare spending skyrocketing. About 50% of all musculoskeletal healthcare spending is surgery-related, says Verscend’s Edwards, citing the analytics company’s data.

To evaluate the effectiveness of their back-pain benefits, employers should take into account what they spend on various medical and pharmaceutical treatments, as well as the cost of lost productivity, says Edwards. By analyzing these data, they can determine which approaches give them the greatest return and are best-suited to their workforce.

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Former campers are eager to send their own kids

May 16, 2018

Campfires and color wars, bunkmates and bus buddies, songs and sports. Most Americans think it’s important to send kids to summer camp—but that feeling is even stronger among former campers, based on findings of a Rasmussen Reports national survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by Pulse Opinion Research and released on May 9.

Fully 58% of U.S. adults believe that it’s at least somewhat important for kids to go to a summer camp—among them, 22% who think it is very important.

And the numbers show it: According to the American Camp Association, more than 14 million children attend summer camp in the United States—and they have their choice of over 14,000 day and overnight camps nationwide.

What’s more, statistics from an ACA Youth Outcomes Study show that, among recent campers:

  • 96% said the experience helped them to make new friends;
  • 93% got to know and appreciate kids who were “different” from them;
  • 92% said that camping made them feel better about themselves; and
  • 75% said they got to do things they had at first been afraid to attempt and they were proud of their achievements.

The experts seem to agree. Michael Brandwein, a consultant to the camp profession based in Lincolnshire, Illinois, notes, “What makes camp a special community is its focus on celebrating effort. In this less pressured atmosphere, children learn more readily what positive things to say and do when they make mistakes and face challenges.

Brandwein also said, “The traditions and customs of each different camp are like a secret code that allows those who know it to feel embraced by something unique and special …. Campers are urged to include, not exclude, others. They are praised for choosing new partners and not always the same ones. They are encouraged to respect the differences between people. In an increasingly sarcastic, put-down-oriented world, camps aim to be an oasis of personal safety where demeaning comments and disrespectful behavior are not tolerated, and children are taught responsible and positive ways to resolve conflicts.”

But not everyone is a camp booster. Of the parents contacted, 39% do not think summer camp is important for their kids, including 12% who say it is not at all important.

Research contact: @Rasmussen_Poll

Supreme Court revokes ban on sports betting

May 15, 2018

In a 6-3 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Governor Phil Murphy, et. al, of New Jersey on May 14—calling the federal ban on sports betting unconstitutional and opening up the potential for many more states to adopt legalized sports betting, Business Insider reported.

The decision overturns the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which was passed in 1992 and effectively banned sports betting outside of Nevada and a few other states that had been grandfathered in under the law.

Specifically, the Court ruled that “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.

“Justice Samuel Alito, a New Jersey native, gave the majority opinion, saying, “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

The news opens up a potential windfall for New Jersey and specifically Atlantic City, Business Insider noted—with millions of potential bettors now just a short drive away from legalized sports betting.

And the American public approves:  A poll fielded by the University of Massachusetts–Lowell on behalf of  The Washington Post  late last year found fully 55% support making gambling on professional sports legal in all states – it is legal now only in Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon – compared to 33% who disapprove.

Indeed, the researchers discovered that, although gambling on professional sports is illegal in most states, one in five fans has placed a bet to date—and 73% of those who did so said it made watching the games more interesting.

“A majority of Americans now favor sports betting, but this is especially true among respondents younger than 50. This suggests that support may actually continue to increase in years to come. I would not be surprised if we see a push to legalize sports betting in more states, especially in states with the ballot initiative,” said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.

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Singapore is ‘sweet spot’ for expatriates

May 14, 2018

Singapore again has been rated by expatriates as the best host country in the world, by the HSBC Expat Explorer survey for 2017.

Expats are professionals, skilled workers or artists who are posted away from their home countries—living and working abroad either temporarily or permanently.

Singapore surpassed competition from Norway, which rose four places between the 2016 and 2017 surveys, to come in second.

Following those two countries in the top ten are New Zealand . Germany, The Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Sweden , Austria, and the United Arab Emirates. The United States ranked as number 27; the United Kingdom, as number 35 on the list.

Culturally very different yet both highly regarded, Singapore and Norway offer expats a stable economic and political environment, while giving them a fulfilling experience and an improved family life, HSBC said. Indeed, 83% of expats feel confident about Singapore’s political stability; and 73%, about the local economy.

Now in its tenth year, the HSBC Expat Explorer survey is the world’s largest and longest-running study of expat life, according to the British multinational banking and financial services company—quizzing more than 27,500 expats about their experience abroad.

As well as unveiling the best places in the world to live as an expat, the survey also found that life abroad typically increases expats’ income by 25%, with the average expat earning just under US$100,000 a year. Expats moving to Singapore report an average 42% increase in their annual income compared to home, to almost US$118,000.

Based on the research findings, 41% of expats adopt a more positive outlook on life after moving abroad, with 44% becoming more physically active.

For expat families, The Netherlands has overtaken Sweden to become the new hotspot—rising nine places in one year. More than three-quarters (76%) of expat parents in the Netherlands say the health and well-being of their children is better than it was at home. Expat parents also praise the quality of education and childcare, with 72% and 65% respectively saying it is better than at home.

Head of HSBC Expat Dean Blackburn commented, “Each year that we conduct the Expat Explorer survey, I am amazed by the diversity of the expat community. From young entrepreneurs and career climbers to families looking for a fresh adventure, there is a destination out there to suit everyone. “

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