March 2017 Prosperity at Work E-Tip

Economics & Job Creation:


Life Sciences:
“Sound waves boost older adults’ memory, deep sleep”

“The ultimate power nap: Researchers use ‘Fitbits’ to track elephant sleep in the wild”

“Snake bite? Chemists figure out how to easily and cheaply halt venom’s spread”

The Industrials:
“Employees Will be Easy to Lose and Hard to Hire in 2017”

Human Capital Solutions, Inc. (HCS) is a Retained Executive Search and Professional Recruiting firm focused in Healthcare, Life Sciences, the Industrials, and Technology. Visit our LinkedIn Company Page to learn more about HCS and receive weekly updates.

HCS has created the Prosperity at Work proposition which focuses on creating prosperous relationships between companies and their employees (associates). HCS assists companies in improving bottom line profitability by efficiently planning, organizing and implementing optimized, practical and value-added business solutions.


Economics & Job Creation:


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 235,000 in February, and the
unemployment rate was little changed at 4.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics reported today. Employment gains occurred in construction,
private educational services, manufacturing, health care, and mining.

Household Survey Data

The number of unemployed persons, at 7.5 million, changed little in February.
The unemployment rate, at 4.7 percent, was little changed over the month but
was down from 4.9 percent a year earlier. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate decreased for Whites to
4.1 percent in February, while the jobless rates for adult men (4.3 percent),
adult women (4.3 percent), teenagers (15.0 percent), Blacks (8.1 percent),
Asians (3.4 percent), and Hispanics (5.6 percent) showed little or no change.
(See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was
essentially unchanged at 1.8 million in February and accounted for 23.8 percent
of the unemployed. Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down
by 358,000. (See table A-12.)

In February, the labor force participation rate, at 63.0 percent, and the
employment-population ratio, at 60.0 percent, showed little change. (See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes
referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed at 5.7 million
in February. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment,
were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they
were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In February, 1.7 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force,
little different from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)
These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for
work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not
counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks
preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 522,000 discouraged workers in February,
little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)
Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they
believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.2 million persons
marginally attached to the labor force in February had not searched for work for
reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. (See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 235,000 in February. Job gains
occurred in construction, private educational services, manufacturing, health care,
and mining. (See table B-1.)

In February, construction employment increased by 58,000, with gains in specialty
trade contractors (+36,000) and in heavy and civil engineering construction
(+15,000). Construction has added 177,000 jobs over the past 6 months.

Employment in private educational services rose by 29,000 in February, following
little change in the prior month (-5,000). Over the year, employment in the
industry has grown by 105,000.

Manufacturing added 28,000 jobs in February. Employment rose in food manufacturing
(+9,000) and machinery (+7,000) but fell in transportation equipment (-6,000). Over
the past 3 months, manufacturing has added 57,000 jobs.

Health care employment rose by 27,000 in February, with a job gain in ambulatory
health care services (+18,000). Over the year, health care has added an average
of 30,000 jobs per month.

Employment in mining increased by 8,000 in February, with most of the gain occurring
in support activities for mining (+6,000). Mining employment has risen by 20,000
since reaching a recent low in October 2016.

Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in February
(+37,000). The industry has added 597,000 jobs over the year.

Retail trade employment edged down in February (-26,000), following a gain of 40,000
in the prior month. Over the month, job losses occurred in general merchandise stores
(-19,000); sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores (-9,000); and electronics
and appliance stores (-8,000).

Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, transportation and
warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, and
government, showed little or no change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at
34.4 hours in February. In manufacturing, the workweek was unchanged at 40.8 hours,
and overtime remained at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and
nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls has been 33.6 hours since August
2016. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In February, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls
increased by 6 cents to $26.09, following a 5-cent increase in January. Over the year,
average hourly earnings have risen by 71 cents, or 2.8 percent. In February, average
hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased
by 4 cents to $21.86 in February. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised down from
+157,000 to +155,000, and the change for January was revised up from +227,000 to
+238,000. With these revisions, employment gains in December and January combined
were 9,000 more than previously reported. Monthly revisions result from additional
reports received from businesses since the last published estimates and from the
recalculation of seasonal factors. Over the past 3 months, job gains have averaged
209,000 per month.


Life Sciences:

“Sound waves boost older adults’ memory, deep sleep”

Gentle sound stimulation — such as the rush of a waterfall — synchronized to the rhythm of brain waves significantly enhanced deep sleep in older adults and improved their ability to recall words, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

Deep sleep is critical for memory consolidation. But beginning in middle age, deep sleep decreases substantially, which scientists believe contributes to memory loss in aging.

The sound stimulation significantly enhanced deep sleep in participants and their scores on a memory test.

“This is an innovative, simple and safe non-medication approach that may help improve brain health,” said senior author Dr. Phyllis Zee, professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine sleep specialist. “This is a potential tool for enhancing memory in older populations and attenuating normal age-related memory decline.”

The study will be published March 8 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

In the study, 13 participants 60 and older received one night of acoustic stimulation and one night of sham stimulation. The sham stimulation procedure was identical to the acoustic one, but participants did not hear any noise during sleep. For both the sham and acoustic stimulation sessions, the individuals took a memory test at night and again the next morning. Recall ability after the sham stimulation generally improved on the morning test by a few percent. However, the average improvement was three times larger after pink-noise stimulation.

The older adults were recruited from the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern.

The degree of slow wave sleep enhancement was related to the degree of memory improvement, suggesting slow wave sleep remains important for memory, even in old age.

Although the Northwestern scientists have not yet studied the effect of repeated nights of stimulation, this method could be a viable intervention for longer-term use in the home, Zee said.

Previous research showed acoustic simulation played during deep sleep could improve memory consolidation in young people. But it has not been tested in older adults.

The new study targeted older individuals — who have much more to gain memory-wise from enhanced deep sleep — and used a novel sound system that increased the effectiveness of the sound stimulation in older populations.

The study used a new approach, which reads an individual’s brain waves in real time and locks in the gentle sound stimulation during a precise moment of neuron communication during deep sleep, which varies for each person.

During deep sleep, each brain wave or oscillation slows to about one per second compared to 10 oscillations per second during wakefulness.

Giovanni Santostasi, a study coauthor, developed an algorithm that delivers the sound during the rising portion of slow wave oscillations. This stimulation enhances synchronization of the neurons’ activity.

After the sound stimulation, the older participants’ slow waves increased during sleep.

Larger studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of this method and then “the idea is to be able to offer this for people to use at home,” said first author Nelly Papalambros, a Ph.D. student in neuroscience working in Zee’s lab. “We want to move this to long-term, at-home studies.”

Northwestern scientists, under the direction of Dr. Roneil Malkani, assistant professor of neurology at Feinberg and a Northwestern Medicine sleep specialist, are currently testing the acoustic stimulation in overnight sleep studies in patients with memory complaints. The goal is to determine whether acoustic stimulation can enhance memory in adults with mild cognitive impairment.

Previous studies conducted in individuals with mild cognitive impairment in collaboration with Ken Paller, professor of psychology at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, have demonstrated a possible link between their sleep and their memory impairments.


“The ultimate power nap: Researchers use ‘Fitbits’ to track elephant sleep in the wild”

Why we sleep is one of the enduring unanswered mysteries of modern science. Along with such activities as eating, protecting oneself and reproducing, sleep is one of the major biological imperatives of existence.

Although being asleep precludes these other activities, all animals do sleep. Some, like whales, dolphins, seals and certain birds, do it in a very unusual manner, sleeping with only half their brain at a time, while some sleep quite a lot and others less so.

“While there are many hypotheses regarding the function of sleep, the ultimate purpose of sleep is yet to be discovered,” says Prof. Paul Manger, from the School of Anatomical Sciences at Wits University.

The lack of sleep can — even over a relatively short term — lead to brain damage, and in the longer term death, as can be seen in the human conditions fatal familial insomnia and sporadic fatal insomnia.

Generally, larger animals tend to sleep less than smaller animals, but do elephants fit this trend?

Behavioural studies of elephant sleep in zoos record that they sleep around four hours per day and can sleep standing up or lying down — but how much do they sleep and how do they sleep in their natural environment?

Working in the Chobe national Park in Botswana, Manger, Dr Nadine Gravett and Dr Adhil Bhagwandin at the University of the Witwatersrand, along with their colleagues from the NGO Elephants Without Borders, Botswana, and the University of California, Los Angeles, made use of small activity data loggers, scientific versions of the well-known consumer fitness and wellness tracker, Fitbit, to study the sleeping patterns of elephants in the wild.

“We reasoned that measuring the activity of the trunk, the most mobile and active appendage of the elephant, would be crucial, making the reasonable assumption that if the trunk is still for five minutes or more, the elephant is likely to be asleep,” says Manger.

The team outfitted two matriarch elephants, noting when they used their trunk by an implanted activity data logger, when they moved around and — by installing a GPS collar with a gyroscope around their necks — where and when they were lying down to sleep.

The main finding of the study, recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, was that the two matriarch elephants slept only two hours per day on average, and this sleep occurred mostly in the early hours of the morning, well before dawn. “The data also indicates that environmental conditions (temperature and humidity, but not sunlight) are related to when the elephants fell asleep and when they woke up (which happens well before dawn),” says Manger. “This finding is the first that indicates that sleep in wild animals is likely not to be related to sunrise and sunset, but that other environmental factors are more crucial to the timing of sleep.”

The team also found that the wild elephants could sleep while standing up, or while lying down. Lying down to sleep only happened every three or four days and for about an hour, and it is likely that when the elephants were lying to sleep were the only times they could go into REM, or dreaming, sleep, meaning elephants possibly don’t dream on a daily basis like we do, but may dream only every few days.

“REM sleep (or dreaming) is thought to be important for consolidating memories, but our findings are not consistent with this hypothesis of the function of REM sleep, as the elephant has well-documented long-term memories, but does not need REM sleep every day to form these memories,” says Manger.

Lastly, they found that the two elephants, when disturbed by such things as predators, poachers, or a bull elephant in musth, could go without sleep for up to 48 hours, and following the start of the disturbance would walk up to 30 km from where the disturbance occurred. This put a great deal of distance between the elephant herd and any source of danger, but at the expense of a loss of a night’s sleep.

“Understanding how different animals sleep is important for two reasons. First, it helps us to understand the animals themselves and discover new information that may aid the development of better management and conservation strategies, and, second, knowing how different animals sleep and why they do so in their own particular way, helps us to understand how humans sleep, why we do, and how we might get a better night’s sleep.”


“Snake bite? Chemists figure out how to easily and cheaply halt venom’s spread”

Chemists at the University of California, Irvine have developed a way to neutralize deadly snake venom more cheaply and effectively than with traditional anti-venom — an innovation that could spare millions of people the loss of life or limbs each year.

In the U.S., human snakebite deaths are rare — about five a year — but the treatment could prove useful for dog owners, mountain bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts brushing up against nature at ankle level. Worldwide, an estimated 4.5 million people are bitten annually, 2.7 million suffer crippling injuries and more than 100,000 die, most of them farmworkers and children in poor, rural parts of India and sub-Saharan Africa with little healthcare.

The existing treatment requires slow intravenous infusion at a hospital and costs up to $100,000. And the antidote only halts the damage inflicted by a small number of species.

“Current anti-venom is very specific to certain snake types. Ours seems to show broad-spectrum ability to stop cell destruction across species on many continents, and that is quite a big deal,” said doctoral student Jeffrey O’Brien, lead author of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Zeroing in on protein families common to many serpents, the UCI researchers demonstrated that they could halt the worst effects of cobras and kraits in Asia and Africa, as well as pit vipers in North America. The team synthesized a polymer nanogel material that binds to several key protein toxins, keeping them from bursting cell membranes and causing widespread destruction. O’Brien knew he was onto something when the human serum in his test tubes stayed clear, rather than turning scarlet from venom’s typical deadly rupture of red blood cells.

Chemistry professor Ken Shea, senior author of the paper, explained that the venom — a “complex toxic cocktail” evolved over millennia to stay ahead of prey’s own adaptive strategies — is absorbed onto the surface of nanoparticles in the new material and is permanently sequestered there, “diverted from doing harm.”

Thanks to the use of readily available, nonpoisonous components, the “nanodote” has a long shelf life and costs far less. The existing antidote is made by injecting horses with venom, waiting weeks for the animals to develop antibodies, then extracting their blood and shipping it from Mexico or Australia to places that can afford it. The process is not allowed in the U.S. Major suppliers have discontinued shipments to many markets.

In contrast, “our treatment costs pennies on the dollar and, unlike the current one, requires no refrigeration,” O’Brien said. “It feels pretty great to think this could save lives.”

Since publishing their findings, the researchers have discovered that scorpion and spider bite infections may also be slowed or stopped via their invention. They have patents pending and are seeking public and private funding to move forward with clinical trials and product development. Additionally, Shea’s group pioneered a synthetic antidote for bee melittin — the ingredient in stings that can kill people who have an allergic reaction — using similar methods.

“The goal is not to save mice from venom and bee stings,” Shea said, “but to demonstrate a paradigm shift in thinking about solutions to these types of problems. We have more work to do, and this is why we’re seeking a fairly significant infusion of resources.”

The U.S. Department of Defense’s research arm financed the first phase of the laboratory work. “The military has platoons in the tropics and sub-Saharan Africa, and there are a variety of toxic snakes where they’re traipsing around,” Shea said. “If soldiers are bitten, they don’t have a hospital nearby; they’ve got a medic with a backpack. They need something they can use in the field to at least delay the spread of the venom.”


The Industrials:

“Employees Will be Easy to Lose and Hard to Hire in 2017”

It’s become clear over the last several years that the job market has been not only recovering, but transitioning. Consequently, the latest changes wrought have given way to an entirely new type of candidate profile, report recruiters from the field.

Interestingly, working professionals themselves are leading the way — and they’ve become all too aware that the current candidate-driven job market puts them in a ‘power position’ where they can be more selective when making career decisions. They now have a wealth of resources at their disposal to determine whether their current employer is offering them benefits or opportunities that are competitive with current market trends. For them, that knowledge is translating into control.

The Execu | Search Group’s just released ‘Hiring Outlook: Strategies for Engaging With Today’s Talent and Improving the Candidate Experience’ report provides insights into the considerations professionals make when deciding whether to apply for a job, join a company, or leave their current position.

The report also offers actionable recommendations for employers to help them attract and retain the best talent in today’s candidate-driven job market, one in which job seekers have the advantage. The findings were taken from a survey of more than 1,000 job seekers, working professionals, and hiring decision makers across a number of industries.

Engaging With Talent

“As the job market continues to evolve over the next year, engaging with talent will become even more critical to an organization’s success,” said Edward Fleischman, chairman and chief executive officer of the executive search firm that sanctioned the report. “With this in mind, employers need to embrace transparency during the hiring process and in the workplace.”

They must also be aware that the candidate profile is changing, he added, especially with regards to Millennial employees as they progress from entry level roles to management positions. “To adapt to these changes, we hope employers leverage our 2017 Hiring Outlook as a resource for creating a unified culture that motivates all employees, focuses on career development, and facilitates a new model of leadership,” he said.

The Execu|Search survey found that 50 percent of employees plan to stay at their current company for only two years or less. Keeping this in mind, the Hiring Outlook report provides specific ways in which employers can improve the experience job candidates have during the hiring process, increase engagement and retention among current employees, and develop a more transparent culture and leadership structure that align with the needs of today’s workforce.

Findings of the 2017 Hiring Outlook surveys include:

Employers are struggling to retain and hire top talent

The top four reasons employees are leaving companies are lack of advancement opportunities, lack of salary growth, negative work-life balance, and poor corporate culture. Another 61 percent of respondents reported they were interviewing for two or more roles during the interview process for their current position. Fifty percent of employees say that they are planning to stay at their current company for two years or less.

Employers are not providing the hiring experience expected by job candidates

Seventy five percent of employer responses stated that their hiring process, from initial interview to offer, takes more than three weeks, while the vast majority of professionals surveyed felt it should take two weeks at most.

Thirty four percent of working professionals said their interviewer could not convey the overall impact that their role has on the company’s goals and another 45 percent of working professionals do not feel that their interviewer made the effort to give them an introduction to the culture when they were interviewing for their current position.

Companies need to take a more active approach to culture, retention, and leadership development

Seventy six percent of Millennial respondents said that professional development opportunities are one of the most important elements of company culture, and 59 percent of professionals said that access to projects to help keep their skills up-to-date would keep them satisfied at their current company.

Forty two percent of professionals feel that executive leadership does not contribute to a positive company culture. In addition, 48 percent of all working professionals say that they do not believe that younger employees are encouraged to pursue leadership positions at their current companies. Working professionals ranked opportunities for professional development, emphasis on work-life balance, collaboration with team members, and access to leadership/management as the most important aspects of company culture.

A Recruiter’s Perspective

“You have to adjust to a new audience,” said Les Berglass, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Berglass and Associates in New York, which specializes in hiring executives for the consumer goods and retail industries. “The Millennials behave very differently than their predecessor generation. They have a different work-life balance. They’re prepared to accept that they’re the first generation in many years that is going to make less money than their parents. And so what has evolved is a feeling of, ‘If I’m not going to make as much money, then I’m going to balance my work life out differently.’ It’s a whole new world. And you have to have a sensitivity to this audience.”

Mr. Berglass himself has made adjustments. “I’m moving my office in June and we’re putting in a wellness room because I have young women here who are raising families in dual-salaried families and they’re significant contributors,” he said. “So they’re nursing their children and we want to provide a good environment for them.” It’s a new world order, he concluded, “and companies have to adjust to their employees.” If they don’t, he said, “employees will adjust you out of their lives.”
Personal Power Brokers

The way companies and their employee’s part ways has completely changed over the last decade. Although job-hopping is at an all-time high, employers today understand that loyalty doesn’t necessarily go away when employees walk out the door. According to just-released analytics from global outplacement and redeployment firm Mullin International, leveraging talent relationships is now seen as critical to the job search process and to a company’s brand. According to CEO Keith Mullin, “Clients care more than ever about their brand and creating brand ambassadors. Our efforts are to provide clients with the information they need to make better decisions about how to best service exiting employees while strengthening their brand.”

Although some might say that employees show little loyalty to their jobs today, there are opposing arguments, to be sure. “That’s a two-edged sword. The accusation from the company is oftentimes that there’s no loyalty anymore,” Mr. Berglass said.

“One of the reasons there’s a lot less loyalty is because there’s a lot less mentoring than there was before the recession,” he noted. “Loyalty is something that has to be earned. And loyalty is earned in the workplace by mentoring and recognizing talent. But when a company has gone through a recession and the workforce is reduced significantly to save money, mentoring programs tend to go out the window.”

“The world has changed and unless companies and candidates embrace that change – not just accept it, but fully embrace it  – they are going to be left behind,” Mr. Berglass concluded.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media


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