September 2017 Prosperity at Work E-Tip

Economics & Job Creation:


Life Sciences:
“Little known theory could hold key to sporting success”

“For Executive Search Firms, Analytics Can be a Game Changer”

“New possibility of studying how Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain at different ages”

The Industrials:
“U.S. Job Growth Continues Through Summer”

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 156,000 in August, and the unemployment
rate was little changed at 4.4 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. Job gains occurred in manufacturing, construction, professional and technical
services, health care, and mining.

Household Survey Data

In August, the unemployment rate, at 4.4 percent, and the number of unemployed
persons, at 7.1 million, were little changed. After declining earlier in the year,
the unemployment rate has been either 4.3 or 4.4 percent since April. (See
table A-1.)

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey had no discernable effect on the employment and unemployment
data for August. Household survey data collection was completed before the
storm. Establishment survey data collection for this news release was largely
completed prior to the storm, and collection rates were within normal ranges
nationally and for the affected areas. For information on how unusually severe
weather can affect the employment and hours estimates, see the Frequently
Asked Questions section of this release.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (4.1 percent),
adult women (4.0 percent), teenagers (13.6 percent), Whites (3.9 percent), Blacks
(7.7 percent), Asians (4.0 percent), and Hispanics (5.2 percent) showed little or no
change in August. (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 in August at 1.7 million and accounted for 24.7 percent of the unemployed.
(See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate, at 62.9 percent, was unchanged in August and has
shown little movement on net over the past year. The employment-population ratio,
at 60.1 percent, was little changed over the month and thus far this year. (See
table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as
involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 5.3 million in August and
has shown little movement in recent months. 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 a full-time job. (See table A-8.)

In August, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, about the
same as a year earlier. (These 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 448,000 discouraged workers in August, down
128,000 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 1.1 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in
August 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 156,000 in August. Job gains occurred in
manufacturing, construction, professional and technical services, health care, and
mining. Employment growth has averaged 176,000 per month thus far this year, about in
line with the average monthly gain of 187,000 in 2016. (See table B-1.)

Manufacturing employment rose by 36,000 in August. Job gains occurred in motor vehicles
and parts (+14,000), fabricated metal products (+5,000), and computer and electronic
products (+4,000). Manufacturing has added 155,000 jobs since a recent employment low
in November 2016.

In August, construction employment rose by 28,000, after showing little change over
the prior 5 months. Employment among residential specialty trade contractors edged up
by 12,000 over the month.

Employment in professional and technical services continued to trend up in August
(+22,000) and has grown by 262,000 over the last 12 months. In August, job gains
occurred in computer systems design and related services (+8,000).

Health care employment continued on an upward trend over the month (+20,000) and has
risen by 328,000 over the year. Employment in hospitals edged up over the month

Mining continued to add jobs in August (+7,000), with all of the growth in support
activities for mining. Since a recent low in October 2016, employment in mining has
risen by 62,000, or 10 percent.

Employment in food services and drinking places changed little in August (+9,000),
following an increase of 53,000 in July. Over the year, the industry has added
283,000 jobs.

Employment in other major industries, including wholesale trade, retail trade,
transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, and government,
showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls declined by 0.1
hour to 34.4 hours in August. In manufacturing, the workweek declined by 0.2 hour to
40.7 hours, while overtime was unchanged at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for
production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls was 33.7 hours
for the fifth consecutive month. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In August, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose
by 3 cents to $26.39, after rising by 9 cents in July. Over the past 12 months, average
hourly earnings have increased by 65 cents, or 2.5 percent. In August, average hourly
earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 4 cents
to $22.12. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised down from +231,000
to +210,000, and the change for July was revised down from +209,000 to +189,000. With
these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined were 41,000 less than
previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from
businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the
recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 185,000
per month over the past 3 months.


Life Sciences:

“Little known theory could hold key to sporting success”

An established but little known psychological theory is likely to improve performances across a range of activities, including sport, according to new research.

Perceptual Control Theory can be applied to amateurs or skilled performers alike says psychologist Dr Warren Mansell, from The University of Manchester.

The theory argues that when trying to improve performance, teaching people what to do is less effective than teaching them how to picture the outcome.

It has been already been used to accurately model the skills necessary for fielders to get to the right location on the pitch to catch a ball, such as in baseball or cricket.

But according to Dr Mansell, it could be used across sport and the performing arts.

To test the theory, the 48 participants in Dr Mansell’s study were asked to draw images using different instructions.

The images ranged from complex to simple symbols and participants were asked to either copy them directly, copy from memory, or copy by giving instructions on how to move the pen. They were also told draw the image after being told what it looked like.

Describing the image led to significantly more accurate drawings than giving the instructions for what movements to make.

He said: “We commonly instruct people in terms of the physical actions they must carry out in order to perform any task.

“Our study — which we think is the first of its kind — tests the effect of describing how to perform a skill in terms of the perception of the outcome compared to the observable actions.

“And the results were fascinating: the accuracy of the drawings where participants were told what to perceive was almost as good as copying the image directly.”

The theory could also be applied to dance, says Dr Mansell: learning a complex routine is all about an internal sense of where it feels right, rather than obsessing on movements, he argues.

He added: “There is a physiological explanation to this: muscle groups interfere with each other by contracting against another when performing a variety of tasks — whether that’s drawing, dancing or catching a ball.

“So you may not be able to accurately instruct your limbs what to do, but creating a mental picture of the desired outcome gets around that in efficient manner.

Carla Brown-Ojeda, the student who conducted the study, explained: “Different coaches in sport use a wide array of methods, some of which involve the coach directly instructing the learner how to move. Yet if our research generalises, then a simpler, purely ‘perceptual’, method might be developed.”



“For Executive Search Firms, Analytics Can be a Game Changer”

Big data is rewriting the script for how companies around the world do business. The market for big data and business analytics is expected to grow to $203 billion in the next three years, according to the International Data Corporation, a marketplace intelligence provider.

It only makes sense that analytics should become an increasingly vital component of the executive search process. Clients have forever been longing for better, more concrete, evidence about whom they should they hire and why. But analytics also reveals a lot about the hiring process itself and where adjustments must be made to produce the best results, and more.

“I find that executives react well to hard data,” said Ian Ide, managing director and partner at WinterWyman. “It’s tangible and sets the stage for a much better conversation. The data provides evidence and allows the client to draw logical conclusions. If parameters of the search need to be changed, the data arms the stakeholders for conversations they may need to have throughout their organization.”

Some of the search parameters that may change include compensation level and reporting structure, said Mr. Ide. “In other cases, mapping the candidate pool and gaining an understanding of the availability of local talent at the outset of the search helps us decide whether we conduct the search nationally or locally, as well as understand what industries might be particularly viable,” he added.

A Baseline Norm

Mr. Ide oversees operations and delivery activities for the Waltham, MA-based executive search firm, ensuring that its offerings are effectively meeting client needs. He also works directly with clients in regard to their executive hiring needs.

One area that’s clearly of interest to clients is being able to quantify and analyze positive or negative reactions toward their particular search. To cull such information from the data, said Mr. Ide, it’s important to establish a baseline norm and proceed from there.

“We track how candidates are reacting to a search and how that compares to other searches with similar parameters, companies, etc.,” he explained. “Once we have had enough conversations to have a viable data set, we can provide feedback on a company’s reputation, reaction to the opportunity, target salary and reporting structure, along with common questions that have arisen. By providing clients with this information early in the search process, it allows for adjustments to be made when necessary and possible.”

Making Adjustments

Data-driven analysis on the front-end of a search can help facilitate necessary adjustments to parameters such as compensation or relocation, said Mr. Ide. This becomes relevant in emerging sectors where there is a dearth of outside information to draw upon. “For example, leadership roles within the data and analytics space; many companies are hiring chief data officers for the first time,” he said. “Questions such as, ‘Who should that role report into?’ and, ‘What is a competitive pay package?’ are the kinds of questions many companies are facing.”

To be able to compare results, it is critical to maintain multiple sets of data as points, said Mr. Ide. After all, the information can be very different from search to search and company to company. “It’s crucial to get a comparable set of data by which to compare the search,” he said. “For example, an executive search for a well-known leader in the marketplace may generate a better reaction than the executive role for an unknown company. Having a relevant point of comparison will make all of the data much more meaningful and relevant.”

Greater Transparency

Data also gives clients a better understanding of the efforts and actions that search firms are taking in conducting the search assignment. Without data, the client would have no context with which to react to perspective candidates. “There are considerable amounts of research, outreach and assessment that happens before presenting candidates,” said Mr. Ide. “By providing transparency the client understands the work that’s being done on their behalf, along with context with the candidates who are ultimately presented. It also allows for corrections if a search is going down the wrong path. The data and feedback allows the search to stay on track – positively affecting the timeliness and effectiveness of the search.”

In these scenarios, data can lead to greater efficiency in the search process, including a higher completion rate. “It also allows for communication to ensure we are on point and on track with our efforts,” said Mr. Ide. “Time is always a factor and data will allow us to get the right person on board sooner.”

Data also provides a detailed understanding as to what is realistic and what is not with the candidate requirements. “The data should be able to tell you how many meet the candidate requirements and at what point do the requirements make the candidate pool too small to be realistic,” said Mr. Ide. “With this, we can provide insight on how modifications to the requirements can specifically impact the size of the candidate pool.”

Data is a Tool

What must always be remembered, however, is that data is all but useless in itself. It’s a tool and it requires experienced people to break it down and interpret it. “Data can easily become overwhelming if you are not curating it,” said Mr. Ide. “Our job is to help make sense of that data and allow our clients to make informed decisions with it. It’s important as a search firm to be able to say, ‘What is the analysis, what are the trends we are seeing, and what are the points that we are trying to make based on what we are looking at.’ At that point, we can help use the data to help drive that narrative, versus just throwing data at a client without a reference point.”

Added to the mix are the many forms of data presentation tools, such as dashboards and decks. Which choice is most effective depends on the customer, said Mr. Ide. “There are some clients who are very detailed oriented and would like a considerable amount of information,” he said. “There are others who will be less interested in the data — there is a range. You need to access your audience, talk about this at the start of the search and fine-tune and customize the process along the way to ensure it’s meaningful and useful.”

Looking ahead five to 10 years, Mr. Ide expects that data analytics will only become more vital to the search process. The industry is just at the beginning of what it might be able to do with data: “I think it will become more of a differentiator between executive search firms, especially those that have built a body of work and an expertise in a particular area or field,” he said. “These recruiters will have a data set that can be leveraged in conjunction with their network and successes.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media



“New possibility of studying how Alzheimer’s disease affects the brain at different ages”

Alzheimer’s disease can lead to several widely divergent symptoms and, so far, its various expressions have mainly been observed through the behaviour and actions of patients. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have now produced images showing the changes in the brain associated with these symptoms — a development which increases knowledge and could facilitate future diagnostics and treatment.

Symptoms vary in cases of Alzheimer’s disease and often relate to the phase of life in which the disease first occurs. People who become ill before the age of 65 often suffer early on from diminished spatial perception and impaired orientation. Elderly patients more often suffer the symptoms traditionally associated with the disease: above all, memory impairment.

“Now we have a tool which helps us to identify and detect various sub-groups of Alzheimer’s disease. This facilitates the development of drugs and treatments adapted to various forms of Alzheimer’s,” explains Michael Schöll, researcher at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg.

Diagnostics could also be facilitated, mainly among younger patients in whom it is particularly difficult to arrive at a correct diagnosis.

Confident in approval for clinical use

The findings, published in the journal Brain, are based on studies of around 60 Alzheimer’s patients at Skåne University Hospital and a control group consisting of 30 people with no cognitive impairment.

Once Alzheimer’s disease has taken hold, it gradually results in the tau protein, present in the brain, forming lumps and destroying the transport routes of the neurons. This can be clearly detected with the new imaging method.

The method includes a device known as a PET camera and a trace substance, a particular molecule, which binds to tau. The imaging method is currently only used in research, where the current study is one of several contributing to increased knowledge about the disease:

“The changes in the various parts of the brain that we can see in the images correspond logically to the symptoms in early onset and late onset Alzheimer’s patients respectively,” explains Oskar Hansson, professor of neurology at Lund University and consultant at Skåne University Hospital.

Oskar Hansson believes that the imaging method will be in clinical use within a few years.


The Industrials:

“U.S. Job Growth Continues Through Summer”

Employers added 209,000 jobs last month as the U.S. unemployment rate fell slightly, to 4.3 percent, according to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. During the month, the number of workers unemployed remained at seven million. July marked the 80th straight month of job growth in the U.S. Economists had forecast payrolls increasing by 180,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate holding steady at 4.4 percent.

“While the pace of jobs creation in 2017 may not be as strong as the year before, it’s still respectable for mature economic expansion,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for financial services firm

President Donald J. Trump has pledged to dramatically accelerate the pace of job growth and oversee the creation of 25 million new jobs in the next decade. By comparison, the U.S. has added 15.5 million jobs since 2010, a mark that includes significant catch-up from the mass layoffs of the financial crisis. But with major American infrastructure plans on hold it is unlikely the president will find enough alternative sectors to drive the economy and jobs growth to historic levels.

“It was a surprisingly solid report,” said Josh Wright, chief economist for cloud-based talent acquisition software maker iCIMS. “Unemployment is declining at the same time job creation is rising. That’s a really good thing.” The only negative he saw is that the long-term unemployment rate — those jobless for 27 weeks or more — was also steady at 1.8 million, accounting for 25.9 percent of the unemployed.

Where Job Growth Occurred

During the month, job growth took hold in a number of broad industries. Here’s a look at some of the most important key sectors:

Employment in food services and drinking places rose by 53,000 in July. The industry added 313,000 jobs over the year;
Professional and business services added 49,000 jobs in July, in line with its average monthly job gain over the prior 12 months;
In July, healthcare employment increased by 39,000, with job gains occurring in ambulatory health care services (plus-30,000) and hospitals (plus-7,000). Healthcare has added 327,000 jobs over the past year;
Employment in mining was essentially unchanged in July (plus-1,000). From a recent low in October 2016 through June, the industry had added an average of 7,000 jobs per month;
Employment in other major industries, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities and government, showed little change over the month.

A Recruiter’s Perspective

“We have seen real change in the market,” said Edward Batchelor, managing partner at Hardman Batchelor International, an Austin, TX-based search firm. “As a firm that works a great deal in technology and communications we have experience working with strong internal recruiting at our major clients. These internal recruiting teams are overwhelmed currently and challenged with bringing in world-class talent. It has really become a candidate’s market and employers are having to raise their compensation and engagement levels to hire top talent.”

Companies, he added, “need to focus more attention on retaining top talent because people are currently harder to retain and given the current growth in the economy these roles will be harder to fill,” he said. “It will take longer and likely cost more than the incumbent.”

Also, with baby boomer retirements now accelerating, he noted, one on the most significant areas where Hardman Batchelor is seeing growth is in leadership roles, Mr. Batchelor said. “Companies have often had weak succession planning and this has started to catch up with them and is driving a sudden need to fill more senior roles.”

Lack of Available Talent

A company’s workforce is clearly its most valuable asset. The largest expense on any employer’s balance sheet is headcount, and investing in employees and their skills are critical to an organization’s success. Smart employers are acting now to ensure they have the most highly skilled and productive workforce to ensure their organization is prepared for whatever business challenges are coming.

According to the “Definitive Guide” report by Adecco, nearly half (48 percent) of best-in-class companies are already increasing training in critical skill areas to help combat the skills gap. Employees likely want to fill any holes in their skill-set, but cost can be prohibitive. These programs can be expensive. But for companies, the initial investment in alternative training programs may pay lasting dividends, especially where global competition is concerned, said Adecco.

Governments, businesses and employees can learn a lot from what the U.S. economy and workforce endured during the great recession. What is certain is that American workers will show resilience in the face of a daunting labor market, said Adecco. By applying that same resilience, innovation and reinvention to the current skills gap challenge, the report concluded, the American workforce will undoubtedly evolve to meet the needs of the new global economy.

A significant part of the challenge will be balancing the development of soft and hard skills; both will be required to effectively navigate and tackle new industries, technologies and global competitors. And while these are the same dynamics responsible for widening the skills gap, the report said, they will also help connect the American workforce and economy to a greater success and prosperity.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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