October 2017 Prosperity at Work E-Tip

Economics & Job Creation:


Life Sciences:
“Delivering bad news? Don’t beat around the bush”

“Recruiters Face a Double Threat from Automation, But There’s Good News”

“Simulating a brain-cooling treatment that could one day ease epilepsy”

The Industrials:
“Coping with stressful organizational change”

Human Capital Solutions, Inc. (HCS) www.humancs.com 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:



The unemployment rate declined to 4.2 percent in September, and total nonfarm payroll employment
changed little (-33,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. A sharp employment
decline in food services and drinking places and below-trend growth in some other industries
likely reflected the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.


Hurricanes Irma and Harvey

Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida on September 10–during the reference period for both|
the establishment and household surveys–causing severe damage in Florida and other parts of |
the Southeast. Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25–prior to the September |
reference periods–resulting in severe damage in Texas and other areas of the Gulf Coast. |

Our analysis suggests that the net effect of these hurricanes was to reduce the estimate |
of total nonfarm payroll employment for September. There was no discernible effect on the |
national unemployment rate. No changes were made to either the establishment or household |
survey estimation procedures for the September figures. For both surveys, collection rates |
generally were within normal ranges, both nationally and in the affected states. In the |
establishment survey, employees who are not paid for the pay period that includes the |
12th of the month are not counted as employed. In the household survey, persons with a job |
are counted as employed even if they miss work for the entire survey reference week (the |
week including the 12th of the month), regardless of whether or not they are paid. For both |
surveys, national estimates do not include Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. |

Further discussion of the impact of the recent hurricanes on the September estimates |
can be found in the Commissioner’s Statement on the Employment Situation, at |
www.bls.gov/news.release/jec.nr0.htm. For additional information on how severe weather |
affects employment data, see Question 8 in the Frequently Asked Questions section of this |
news release.

BLS will release the state estimates of employment and unemployment on October 20, 2017, at |
10:00 a.m. (EDT).


Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 4.2 percent in September, and the number
of unemployed persons declined by 331,000 to 6.8 million. Both measures were down over the year.
(See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (3.9 percent) and Blacks
(7.0 percent) declined in September. The jobless rates for adult women (3.9 percent), teenagers
(12.9 percent), Whites (3.7 percent), Asians (3.7 percent), and Hispanics (5.1 percent) showed
little 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
in September at 1.7 million and accounted for 25.5 percent of the unemployed. (See table A-12.)

The employment-population ratio increased by 0.3 percentage point to 60.4 percent in September and
has increased by 0.6 percentage point over the past 12 months. The labor force participation rate,
at 63.1 percent, changed little over the month and has shown little movement over the year.
(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 5.1 million in September. 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 September, 1.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 275,000 from
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 421,000 discouraged workers in September, down by 132,000
from a year earlier. 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 September 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 was little changed in September (-33,000), after adding an average
of 172,000 jobs per month over the prior 12 months. In September, a steep employment decline in food
services and drinking places and below-trend growth in some other industries likely reflected the
impact of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Employment rose in health care and in transportation and
warehousing. (See table B-1.)

Employment in food services and drinking places dropped sharply in September (-105,000), as many
workers were off payrolls due to the recent hurricanes. Over the prior 12 months, food services
and drinking places had added an average of 24,000 jobs per month.

In September, health care added 23,000 jobs, in line with its average monthly gain over the prior
12 months (+27,000). The employment increase in ambulatory health care services (+25,000) was partially
offset by a decline in nursing care facilities (-9,000).

Employment in transportation and warehousing increased by 22,000 in September. Job gains occurred in
warehousing and storage (+5,000), couriers and messengers (+4,000), and air transportation (+3,000).

Employment in financial activities changed little in September (+10,000). A job gain in insurance
carriers and related activities (+11,000) largely reflected hurricane-recovery efforts. The gain was
partly offset by losses in activities related to credit intermediation (-4,000) and in commercial
banking (-3,000). Over the year, financial activities has added 149,000 jobs.

In September, employment in professional and business services was little changed (+13,000). Over
the prior 12 months, job growth in the industry had averaged 50,000 per month.

Manufacturing employment was essentially unchanged in September (-1,000). From a recent employment
trough in November 2016 through August of this year, the industry had added an average of 14,000
jobs per month.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, construction, wholesale trade, retail trade,
information, and government, showed little change over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.4 hours in
September. In manufacturing, the workweek also was unchanged at 40.7 hours, and overtime held steady
at 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm
payrolls was unchanged at 33.6 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)

In September, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose by 12 cents
to $26.55. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased by 74 cents, or 2.9 percent.
In September, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees
increased by 9 cents to $22.23. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for July was revised down from +189,000 to +138,000,
and the change for August was revised up from +156,000 to +169,000. With these revisions, employment
gains in July and August combined were 38,000 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
91,000 over the past 3 months.



Life Sciences:

“Delivering bad news? Don’t beat around the bush”

You know you want to end your relationship, but you’re nervous and don’t want to be hurtful. So you spend the first 10 minutes of your dinner date making friendly and fidgety small talk before diving into the matter at hand.

Alternatively, you sit down at the table and, before your date has a chance to open the menu, you blurt out, “We need to talk.” Band-Aid ripped off, just like that.

New BYU research shows that when it comes to receiving bad news, most people prefer directness, candor and very little — if any — buffer.

Such were the findings in a study recently completed by BYU linguistics professor Alan Manning and the University of South Alabama’s Nicole Amare. Study participants were offered varied forms of hypothetical visual, textual and verbal bad news.

Manning and Amare found that if someone is delivering bad news about a social relationship — think “I’m breaking up with you” or “I’m sorry, you’re fired” — you might prefer they ease into it with the tiniest of buffers. But the research found that people value directness over an extended and overly polite lead in.

“An immediate ‘I’m breaking up with you’ might be too direct,” said Manning. “But all you need is a ‘we need to talk’ buffer — just a couple of seconds for the other person to process that bad news is coming.”

And when it comes to receiving negative information about physical facts — e.g., “you’re dying” or “that water is toxic” — most people want it straight up, no easing in.

“If we’re negating physical facts, then there’s no buffer required or desired,” Manning said. “If your house is on fire, you just want to know that and get out. Or if you have cancer, you’d just like to know that. You don’t want the doctor to talk around it.”

For this project, 145 study participants received a range of bad-news scenarios, and with each scenario, they were given two potential deliveries. For each received message, they ranked how clear, considerate, direct, efficient, honest, specific and reasonable they perceived it to be. They also ranked which of those characteristics they valued most. Participants, for the most part, valued clarity and directness over other characteristics.

Previous research and advice on delivering bad news has been mixed, in part because it’s been shaped in a way that makes bad-news delivery easiest for the deliverer, said Manning. And that has led to buffers that drag out uncertainty for the bad-news recipient.

“If you’re on the giving end, yeah, absolutely, it’s probably more comfortable psychologically to pad it out — which explains why traditional advice is the way it is,” he said. “But this survey is framed in terms of you imagining you’re getting bad news and which version you find least objectionable. People on the receiving end would much rather get it this way.”

Though the buffer in giving bad news is almost always a bad idea, there are cases when it can be valuable — necessary, even, explained Manning. When trying to make a persuasive case for someone to change a firmly held opinion, strategic buildup can play an integral role. “People’s belief systems are where they’re the most touchy,” he said. “So any message that affects their belief system, their ego identity, that’s what you’ve got to buffer.”




“Recruiters Face a Double Threat from Automation, But There’s Good News”

Automation is already heavily impacting many jobs, especially those in manufacturing and agriculture. Of five million manufacturing jobs lost since 2000, machines have replaced 4.4 million of them, according to researchers at Ball State University.

Experts expect these same forces to hit white-collar jobs. After all, technology is cheaper than human labor, increases productivity, and often works better. The impact could be staggering. An Oxford University study found that robots and “smart” computers could replace up to half the U.S. workforce within the next decade or two. Consulting and accounting firm PwC, meanwhile, has said that 38 percent of today’s jobs could be eliminated in the next 15 years.

“Whatever figure we look at, many U.S. jobs are going to be threatened by emerging technologies,” ENGAGE Talent CEO Joseph Hanna said. “There’s no reason to expect that recruiters will be immune.”

Mr. Hanna’s firm is on a journey to solve a relatively difficult data and artificial intelligence challenge that’s cropped up and is now seen as one of the most pressing dilemmas of 21st century hiring: predicting people’s job security and likelihood to change jobs based on their professional background, career progression, and events impacting their companies and industries. It is a new frontier, but one that is expected to take center stage as recruiters and talent acquisition leaders race to solve it.

A Double Threat for Recruiters

There is some good news: “Recruiter” didn’t make the Oxford University study’s list of the top 10 jobs threatened by computer automation; and just as automation threatens many jobs, it will also create others, opening up new opportunities. The worry, however, is that jobs lost due to automation will greatly outnumber jobs gained. If so, recruiters will face a double threat from automation.

First, if employers’ need for labor is lower, there will be fewer jobs for recruiters to fill, and thus less need for recruiters. Recruiters who specialize in certain hard-hit sectors—such as banking and finance—might especially be affected. Thirty percent of financial and banking sector jobs could be eliminated by 2025, according to Citigroup.

Second, robots and artificial intelligence will directly impact recruiters’ jobs. We anticipate that 80 percent of the tasks that recruiters perform today will be automated.

That’s right, 80 percent. Even if that number proves a bit high, the ramifications are obvious. Many recruiting jobs will be eliminated because the same work would require fewer people. To survive, recruiters will need to do the 20 percent of tasks that can’t be automated very, very well. Those who fail to do so won’t be successful, and may very well find themselves out of a job.

The Automation of Recruiting

What aspects of recruiting will be automated? Basically anything that doesn’t involve direct, emotional interaction with candidates is likely to be automated, including:

  • Scheduling
  • Many sourcing activities
  • Most of the screening, tech testing, and assessment tasks
  • First, second, and possibly third online interactions with candidates
  • Many activities in which today’s recruiters rely on their experience and gut
  • Assessing availability of passive candidates
  • Drafting customized and targeted emails to candidates
  • Matching candidates with jobs
  • Checking references
  • And many others …

What’s going to be left for recruiters to do? Tasks that relate to human emotional and intellectual connection – Mr. Robot won’t be able to handle those. So you will need, even more than now, to excel at:


  • Assessing people’s ability to work with a given team
  • Assessing whether people have the ability to ramp up for a job that they are not yet qualified for
  • Assessing learning ability
  • Assessing how a person can work under stress
  • Assessing cultural fit

That last bullet point might surprise you. After all, technologies that are designed to assess cultural fit already exist. However, those technologies have a long way to go. We rate them a three on a scale of one to 10. We expect that people – recruiters – will continue to best predict cultural fit.

“The good news is that automation will eliminate the mundane, repetitive tasks, allowing recruiters to focus on more rewarding parts of the job, including strategy and assessment,” Mr. Hanna said.

People Skills: The Skills of the Future?

The need for recruiters to perfect their people skills is not unusual. Experts believe it will be a trend in many industries.

“What can’t be replaced in any organization imaginable in the future is precisely what seems overlooked today: liberal arts skills, such as creativity, empathy, listening, and vision,” Tom Perrault writes in Harvard Business Review. “These skills, not digital or technological ones, will hold the keys to a company’s future success.”

“Manual and routine tasks are more susceptible to automation, while social skills are relatively less automatable,” wrote John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC. “That said, no industry is entirely immune from future advances in robotics and AI.”

Of course, it will be essential as a recruiter to successfully adapt to new technologies, or else you won’t be able to remain relevant. And, as the new jobs that arise from automation become in-demand, it will pay off to be able to successfully recruit great talent for those jobs.

But for now, we know big changes are coming to recruiting. It’s best to be aware that they are coming, to be prepared for them, and to be ready to adapt.

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




“Simulating a brain-cooling treatment that could one day ease epilepsy”

Using computer simulation techniques, scientists have gained new insights into the mechanism by which lowering the temperature of specific brain regions could potentially treat epileptic seizures. The results are published in PLOS Computational Biology.

About 50 million people worldwide deal with sudden, recurring seizures that are the hallmark of epilepsy. Treatment with medication or surgery does not work for some patients, so scientists have been investigating a potential alternative called focal cooling, in which a device would be implanted in the brain to suppress the electrical signals — discharges — that characterize epileptic seizures.

In the new study, Jaymar Soriano of Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan, and colleagues, sought to better understand the mechanism by which focal cooling operates. So far, the technique has been tested only temporarily in epilepsy patients as intraoperative studies, while it has shown consistent success in rats. However, focal cooling sometimes slightly increases the frequency of epileptic discharges in rats, even while suppressing their strength.

To investigate how focal cooling suppresses epileptic discharges with possible increase in frequency, the research team took a computational approach. They employed a model of the rat brain that allowed them to simulate different mechanisms underlying the effects of a focal cooling device on epileptic discharges.

Using data from laboratory and rat studies, the researchers first simulated a mechanism by which focal cooling reduces activity at connections between neurons, resulting in less frequent discharges. However, with this mechanism alone, the model could not accurately reproduce electrical activity patterns previously observed in focal brain cooling experiments on rats with drug-induced epilepsy.

To compensate for the first mechanism, the researchers devised a second mechanism in which cooling resulted in discharges that were persistent but weaker. Incorporating both mechanisms into the model allowed the team to successfully reproduce results from previous rat experiments.

“Focal brain cooling could be an alternative treatment for epileptic seizures with lower risk of irreversible functional loss compared to surgery,” says study co-author Takatomi Kubo. “Our study attempts to start an initiative on thermal neuromodulation of brain activity using a computational approach that can elucidate its mechanism and complement animal experiments and clinical tests.”

Further investigation and laboratory studies could help the researchers refine their model and better understand the mechanisms that underpin focal cooling.



The Industrials:

“Coping with stressful organizational change”

Stress is not a recent phenomenon, but the modern work environment seems to highlights its detrimental effects on employees. This is no more obvious than during times of organizational change. Research published in the International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, considers the impact of such changes on workers in a healthcare authority in New Zealand, highlighting the problems that any organization might face under such circumstances and pointing to possible methods to cope and remediate employee stress.

Stress is present to some degree in any organizational context as employees, including managers, grapple with a host of work demands, suggests Roy Smollan of the Department of Management, at Auckland University of Technology. Individuals all have different coping strategies although ultimately not everyone copes. It all depends on the specific stressors, the individual’s personality, emotional intelligence, and their social identity. Moreover, specific stressors need tailored coping strategies, suggests Smollan. He reports that stress is exacerbated when processes, such as organizational change exist in a cloud of ambiguity and uncertainty, when those processes are undertaken without consultation with employees, and when changes are either miscommunicated or not communicated at all.

Smollan’s case study of a New Zealand healthcare authority undergoing major restructuring represents a quite unique qualitative examination of the stresses of work life as those involved are caught up in the tumultuous processes of organizational change. It focused on how individuals attempted to maintain their psychological wellbeing during these changes and learned to cope with the stress. Fundamentally, while many people involved eschewed help from others and relied more on their strengths, in part for fear of appearing weak, accessing support networks was critical for others. For all involved being proactive in problem solving and managing one’s thoughts and emotions during stressful times were nevertheless important for everyone involved.

“Managers have a key role to play in anticipating when organizational change may elicit stress and in helping those affected to cope with it,” concludes Smollan.


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