Obese Workers Cost Workplace More Than Insurance, Absenteeism

There should be an image here!The cost of obesity among U.S. full-time employees is estimated to be $73.1 billion, according to a new study by a Duke University obesity researcher, published today in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

This is the first study to quantify the total value of lost job productivity as a result of health problems, which it finds is more costly than medical expenditures.

Led by Eric Finkelstein, deputy director for health services and systems research at Duke-National University of Singapore, the study quantified the per capita cost of obesity among full-time workers by considering three factors: employee medical expenditures, lost productivity on the job due to health problems (presenteeism), and absence from work (absenteeism).

Collectively, the per capita costs of obesity are as high as $16,900 for obese women with a body mass index (BMI) over 40 (roughly 100 pounds overweight) and $15,500 for obese men in the same BMI class. Presenteeism makes up the largest share of those costs. Finkelstein found that presenteeism accounted for as much as 56 percent of the total cost of obesity for women, and 68 percent for men. Even among those in the normal weight range, the value of lost productivity due to health problems far exceeded the medical costs.

As part of this secondary analysis of the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the 2008 US National Health and Wellness Survey, presenteeism was measured and monetized as the lost time between arriving at work and starting work on days when the employee is not feeling well, and the average frequency of losing concentration, repeating a job, working more slowly than usual, feeling fatigued at work, and doing nothing at work. The study included data on individuals who are normal weight, overweight and obese, with sub-groupings based on BMI.

“Much work has already shown the high costs of obesity in medical expenditures and absenteeism, but our findings are the first to measure the incremental costs of presenteeism for obese individuals separately by BMI class and gender among full time employees,” said Finkelstein, also associate research professor of global health at the Duke Global Health Institute. “Given that employers shoulder much of the costs of obesity among employees, these findings point to the need to identify cost-effective strategies that employers can offer to reduce obesity rates and costs for employees and families.”

When all costs of obesity are combined, individuals with a body mass index greater than 35 (grades II and III obese) disproportionately account for 61 percent of the costs, yet they only represent 37 percent of the obese population. “The disproportionately high per capita and total cost of grade II and grade III obesity is particularly concerning given that these BMI ranges are the fastest-growing subset of the obese population,” said Marco daCosta DiBonaventura of Kantar Health, a co-author of the study.

With a burgeoning obese population in the U.S., the study has important implications for employers, as they are faced with increasing costs to insure full-time workers.

“Our study provides evidence of yet another cost of obesity,” said Finkelstein. “Employers should consider both the medical and productivity costs of obesity when thinking about investments in weight management or other wellness programs.”

Finkelstein recommends that employers promote healthy foods in the workplace, encourage a culture of wellness from the CEO on down, and provide economic and other incentives to those employees who show clear signs of improving their health via weight loss, maintaining a healthy weight, and/or participation in health behavior activities that have a strong correlation with health improvements, such as walk-a-thons or gym attendance.

[Photo above by Colin Rose / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Geelea Seaford @ Duke University

[awsbullet:Marissa Lippert]

Measuring The Preference For Multitasking

There should be an image here!A new study led by Elizabeth Poposki, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology in the School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, may help employers identify employees who enjoy multitasking and are less inclined to quit jobs involving multitasking. The study presents a new tool developed to measure preference for multitasking, information which may be of interest to bosses who tire of repeatedly hiring and training new employees.

A growing number of individuals must multitask at work and positions requiring a significant amount of multitasking typically have high turnover. Even positions which in the past did not require multitasking may now do so as staff reductions require remaining workers to pick up additional assignments. Technological innovations (e.g., e-mail) also create frequent interruptions. How workers feel about multitasking may influence their job satisfaction and the likelihood that they will quit, important factors in hiring and placement decisions.

Poposki and co-author Frederick L. Oswald, Ph.D., of Rice University, report on the conceptualization and design of the Multitasking Preference Inventory (MPI) in a study published in the current (July 2010) issue of the journal Human Performance.

“Multitasking has now become an important component of job performance for a growing number of professions – air traffic controllers, 911 operators, taxi drivers, receptionists and countless others. We found that individuals who prefer to work on multiple tasks simultaneously enjoy the experience of multitasking more. This finding may sound like common sense, but if we have a tool to assess who will enjoy multitasking and who will not, we may be able to do a better job of selecting employees who will flourish in jobs requiring multitasking,” said Poposki, an industrial-organizational psychologist who takes a psychological perspective on analyzing the workplace.

In her next study she plans to use the new measuring tool in an attempt to predict job satisfaction and turnover among emergency response workers who multitask throughout their shifts.

Poposki notes that our current understanding of multitasking is relatively poor. Although many people believe that multitasking involves doing multiple things at once, the performance of multiple tasks actually requires the rapid shifting of attention among ongoing tasks.

“Neuroscientists tell us that the human brain is incapable of doing two things at once. What we do when we multitask is switch back and forth between tasks in a manner similar to how a computer goes back and forth between programs,” said Poposki.

As multitasking becomes more prevalent in society and workplaces, a better understanding of which workers prefer to work on multiple tasks simultaneously may ultimately aid in practical issues such as staff selection and retention.

[Photo above by ky_olsen / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Cindy Fox Aisen @ Indiana University School of Medicine

[awsbullet:dave crenshaw multitasking]

Don’t Call A Meeting For The Sake Of Meeting

I’ve come across many teams who have re-occurring meetings, even though they don’t have agendas. Some people feel that regular meetings are important. However, holding meetings for the sake of holding meetings is a great way to alienate attendees. Why is that? Meetings without actionable agendas are a waste of your attendees’ time. What ends up happening is you meet to discuss what to discuss as opposed to specific action steps. The result — a lot wasted time. It’s much better to be conscious of people’s time and only call meetings when you have a concrete purpose.

Furthermore, each meeting should end with an action step that identified who will do what by when. You should question the purpose of any meeting that ends without at least one concrete actionable item. If there are no actionable outcomes, chances are you didn’t need the meeting.

[awsbullet:Meeting Excellence]

Provide Your Employees With Meaningful Feedback

Feedback, whether it is positive or negative, is an important part your employees’ professional growth and development. However, having a conversation with another person about their performance can be uncomfortable and as a result, many managers avoid having these conversations with their employees.

Believe it or not, employees want feedback on their performance and the more frequent, the better. Managers who do provide frequent feedback are likely missing golden opportunities to recognize as well as change employees’ behavior.

For those managers who struggle to provide feedback, here are some tips for making the process and conversation more effective:

  • Provide feedback in a timely manner. In fact, when you observe a specific behavior, feedback should be given as shortly after as possible.
  • Choose the correct medium. Positive feedback can be given almost anywhere — in a public forum, through email, during one-one meetings, etc. Negative feedback however should remain private and be delivered during one-one meetings.
  • Prepare yourself for the conversations. Take some time, even a few minutes, to think about what you want to say, particularly when you deliver negative feedback.
  • Stick to the behavior. Provide feedback about employee’s behavior, not about the employee.
  • Follow the facts. Any feedback provided should be based on facts. Do not base feedback on assumptions or on something you heard through the grape vine.

Finally, remember that the overall goal of any feedback conversation is to coach or guide employees’ behavior to improve performance.

[awsbullet:Make Their Day Employee Recognition That Works]

Participation = Engagement

One of the best ways that managers can engage their employees is by asking for their full participation. Participation does not mean inviting your employees to sit through meetings or attend team building events. Participation in this sense means inviting your employees to share their ideas and opinions on how they can contribute to achieving results. It means inviting employees to share their ideas and opinions on initiatives, problems, solutions, etc.

Many managers don’t see the connection between participation and engagement. These managers frequently end up telling their employees instead of engaging them in two-way dialogue to give them an opportunity to be heard.

Bottom line — if participation leads to engagement and engagement leads to more productive employees, all managers should be focused on encouraging full participation for their team.

If you’re still not sold, check out this great article from the Globe and Mail called Engaged Employees Can Drive Revenue.

[awsbullet:Employee Participation]

The Key To Creating A Great Workplace

Organizational Development professionals implement all sorts of activities to create a great workplace for employees — employee engagement activities, fun/team building activities, etc. However, fun activities are not the key to creating a great workplace. The key is front line or local level managers who interact with employees on a day-to-day basis.

If Organizational Development professionals really want to create a great workplace, they should focus much of their efforts on developing, empowering and sensitizing front-line managers. Let’s face it; front line managers are the lenses through which employees largely view the rest of the organization. So when you’re designing your strategy for creating a great workplace, make sure that your front line managers are at the heart of the strategy.

[awsbullet:Make Your Workplace Great]

Walmart Fires Employee For Using Medical Pot For Cancer – Brain Tumor Pain Relief

An associate for Walmart was terminated after the man failed a random drug test. The man lives in Michigan which is one of 15 states that approves of marijuana for medical purposes. He has stated that he suffers from sinus cancer and also has a brain tumor and was legally using the drug for pain relief. But Walmart didn’t seem to care and the man was fired from his job.

In a recent article it also stated that:

Casias, 29, just couldn’t understand how Wal-Mart or any employer for that matter could fire a worker for using medical marijuana, which was prescribed by his doctor and has been legal in Michigan since 2008. He even has a card sanctioned by the state that says he can legally use the drug.

“You can’t discriminate against a person if you have a medical marijuana card, and if they use it for medicinal purposes,” said James McCurtis, a spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Community Health that oversees the medical marijuana program.

Casias’ managers knew he had been battling sinus cancer and the brain tumor for some time, but he did not tell them he was using marijuana to deal with the pain because traditional painkillers alone weren’t working.

When the test came back positive, a manager at the store at first told him it wasn’t a big deal because he was legally using marijuana. However, when he came in for work the morning of Nov. 24, he was immediately pulled into the store manager’s office and told he was fired. “The manager told me he was sorry and he had no choice. He said he wished he could help me out,” Casias said. “They went and got my personal belongings, and I walked out of the store.”

Wal-Mart spokesman Greg Rossiter called the situation “unfortunate.”

“We are sympathetic to Mr. Casias’ condition,” he said. However, like so many other employers, “we have to consider the overall safety of our customers and associates, including Mr. Casias, when making a difficult decision like this.”

Sympathetic? How could Walmart be sympathetic towards the man by terminating his employment? I understand that drug testing is a way to keep Walmart stores drug free, but this seems adsurd to apply this policy to those who use the drug for pain relief.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


Bank Employee Sends Customer Data To Wrong Gmail Account

In what can only be described as irresponsible, a bank employee for a Wyoming bank sent sensitive customer data to the wrong Gmail account. But it gets better. The employee was only supposed to send loan statements for a customer but somehow sent an attachment which contained personal information for 1,325 banking customers.

In a recent article it also states that:

After realizing what he’d done, the employee “tried to recall the e-mail without success.”

When that didn’t work, the employee sent a second e-mail to the recipient instructing the person to delete the e-mail and attachment “in its entirety” without opening or reviewing it. The employee also asked the recipient to contact the employee to “discuss his or her actions.”

Silence ensued.

That’s when the bank sued Google to identify the recalcitrant recipient.

Google said it wouldn’t comply without a court order, and even if it does receive a court order, its policy is to notify an account holder and give the person a chance to object to the disclosure of his or her identity. The court is considering the bank’s request.

In the meantime, Rocky Mountain Bank filed a motion last week to seal the entire case until the court decides whether to force Google to reveal the recipient’s name, saying it didn’t want its customers to learn about the breach, because it would create panic and result in a surge of inquiries from customers.

It wants the information under seal until it can determine from Google whether the Gmail account in question is active or dormant, and whether the sensitive customer information is actually at risk of being abused.

A federal judge in San Jose, California denied the bank’s request to seal on Friday.

“An attempt by a bank to shield information about an unauthorized disclosure of confidential customer information until it can determine whether or not that information has been further disclosed and/or misused does not constitute a compelling reason that overrides the public’s common law right of access to court filings,” wrote Judge Ronald Whyte in his ruling, noting that the bank doesn’t have to wait to advise customers that an unauthorized disclosure of information occurred.

What this just goes to show is that we not only have to watch out for hackers but also dumb bank employees.

Comments welcome.


Microsoft Says They Were Spied Upon

When I first read an article by Todd Bishop which stated that a former employee may have spied on Microsoft for a start up, I had to laugh. Microsoft has lost more lawsuits for stealing from other companies than I have fingers and toes over the years. But when corporate spying happens to them, they cry foul. In a time where more of us are becoming totally dismayed by the likes of corporate greed and down right plain old theft by CEO’s, it is hard to stomach this type of corporate crap that seems to have permeated the entire business world.

In Todds’ article he states that:

The company makes the allegations in a lawsuit filed in King Couny Superior Court in Seattle. It says the former employee, Ancora Technologies Inc. founder Miki Mullor, wrote in his October 2005 Microsoft employment application that Ancora was out of business. The suit alleges that Mullor didn’t disclose when hired that he believed one of Microsoft’s anti-piracy technologies, known System Locked Preinstallation (SLP), infringed on an Ancora patent.

Last June, Ancora filed suit against Dell, HP and Toshiba, alleging that their use of SLP violated its patent. Ancora’s site describes the case and asserts, in no uncertain terms, that SLP is its technology.

So what we have is a small company trying to prove that the big companies stole their technology, and resorted to the same practices that the big companies use. :-)

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


Belkin Employee Confirms Paying For Comments

On January 17th, 2009 I wrote an article [here] about allegations that Belkin was paying a comments on their products. Now it appears that Belkin has gone even further than this. In an article over at Gizmodo they have an employee who is spilling the beans on other shady practices. It appears that Belkin also likes to give away products to test that hid flaws for favorable reviews by blogger’s, faked certification logo’s and also paid people to write bad reviews of competitors products.

The article also states that:

To summarize the note, Belkin’s supposedly paid for positive reviews, gave products with custom firmware to reviewers in order to hide bugs, faked certification logos, wrote poor reviews of competitor’s products and backed out of CES for lack of funding. The company’s supposedly in such bad shape that it’s “commonly accepted that current CEO Mark Reynoso is running everything into the ground, while increasing his salary year after year.”

The worst bit, for consumers, is that “the majority of Belkin employees purchased competitors products for home use, even with ours being offered free, as they are of such poor quality.” On the other hand, we’ve had fairly decent experiences with Belkin products, so it’s not as if EVERYTHING they release is bad (assuming this is true). And of course, the majority of Belkin employees aren’t a part of this scheme, and this isn’t an official written policy, but it’s more of a thing that’s forced upon them by management and their particular corporate culture.

Interesting revelation if it fact the statements are true. In a year when we the public are hearing more and more about corporate corruption, thief’s stealing from our wallets, and having to bailout idiots who have destroyed their own companies for their own greedy needs, I would not put it past any company to do these things.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


MA State Worker Charges Dismissed For Child Porn

Am employee for the State Of Massachusetts has just had his previous chargers against him dismissed after it was proved he was the victim of spam. Seems that a state issued laptop was in the hands of the alleged suspect, when his superiors discovered child pron on his system. The employee was terminated, charged with being a pervert and was finally cleared after two experts concluded the employee was not at fault. In the story from the Boston Hearld it states:

“The overall forensics of the laptop suggest that it had been compromised by a virus,” said Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley.

Nationally recognized computer forensic analyst Tami Loehrs told the Herald Michael Fiola’s ordeal was “one of the most horrific cases I’ve seen.”

“As soon as you mention child pornography, everybody’s senses go out the window,” she said.

Loehrs, who spent a month dissecting the computer for the defense, explained in a 30-page report that the laptop was running corrupted virus-protection software, and Fiola was hit by spammers and crackers bombarding its memory with images of incest and pre-teen porn not visible to the naked eye.

Two forensic examinations conducted by the state Attorney General’s Office for the prosecution concurred with that conclusion, Wark said.

Still, Fiola, 53, whose wife, Robin, described as “computer-illiterate,” wants his day in court. He intends to sue the DIA for “destroying our lives.”

“Our lives have been hell,” said Fiola, a former state park ranger now living in Rhode Island. “I hope to recover my reputation, but our friends all ran.”

If the facts do show that the state illegally terminated the employee, had him charged with what appears to be false charges, I personally hope that Mr. Fiola wins a huge settlement. Being labeled as a child porn pervert is a stigma that can not be shed, no matter what the facts of his innocence shows. Hopefully the monetary award will provide enough cash for Mr. Fiola and his family to be able to move and hopefully start a new life in another town.

Comments welcome.


Windows Vista Backup & Restore – Does It Work?

Yesterday I received a comment from a reader named Luis in which he described a problem he was having using the built in Backup and Restore feature of Windows Vista. He described his problem as:

Hi, I have a huge problem and cannot find
anything related to it on the internet. I’m running Vista Ultimate on
an HP Media Center Pavillion. Because of a number of bugs in the Vista
system I decided to restore a “Complete Windows Restore” from a backup
I made when everything worked fine. I am able to restore ok .. but when
I boot up into windows many system programs and resources say something
like: “so and so program has stopped working .. Windows will notify you
when a solution comes available .. close”. I’ve tried everything
including reformatting the drive and doing a clean install of Vista
Ultimate .. but whenever I do the restore I get the same thing. I have
stripped the computer to bare essentials and still have the same
problem. I can’t even do the windows system check because the same
popup comes up with the same type of message.

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I’ve been at this for
almost a week and I’m this close to pulling Vista out and installing XP.


After some back and forth questioning I learned that this was happening every time he tried to do a Restore from a Backup he had made. Since I do not use this built in feature, I had no personal knowledge on why this was happening. So I did a Google and found a page from a Microsoft employee who had a site and links to some possible solutions to the problem.

Over the years I have tried many a software which claimed to Backup up Windows and do a complete Restore in case disaster struck. For the most part I have been disappointed with the results. The proof in the pudding is not the fact that the software will make a Backup, most softwares do that just fine. But it is the Restore process that fails. What good is a Backup if you can’t restore your system?

I personally use Acronis True Image and find that it flat out just works.

But what has your experience been using the built in Vista Backup and Restore? Share your thoughts with us. Also if you have a favorite Backup program let us know what you use.

Comments welcome.

Microsoft web site is located here.

[tags]windows, vsiat, backup, restore, failure, link, problems, microsoft, employee, assistance, software, [/tags]

Microsoft Wants Office Spy Patent

I saw this on CNN today and finally located the story at the  TimesOnline web site. Seems the software giant has applied for a patent for software that will allow employers to remotely spy on workers. The software is alleged to monitor workers by wireless sensors that will measures the workers metabolism. In the article it further states:

The system would allow managers to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure. Unions said they fear that employees could be dismissed on the basis of a computer’s assessment of their physiological state.

Microsoft submitted a patent application in the US for a “unique monitoring system” that could link workers to their computers. Wireless sensors could read “heart rate, galvanic skin response, EMG, brain signals, respiration rate, body temperature, movement facial movements, facial expressions and blood pressure”, the application states.

The system could also “automatically detect frustration or stress in the user” and “offer and provide assistance accordingly”. Physical changes to an employee would be matched to an individual psychological profile based on a worker’s weight, age and health. If the system picked up an increase in heart rate or facial expressions suggestive of stress or frustration, it would tell management that he needed help.

I like the last part “it would tell management that he needed help.” I would suspect that this software could also be used for performance evaluations as well as justifying terminating an employee.

What do you think?

Commenst welcome.

Full article is here.

[tags]microsoft, patent, employee, monitor, software, wireless, sensors, [/tags]

Intel Employee Bad Mouths OLPC Project

Over at the Silicon Valley Sleuth they are looking into allegations that the OLPC [One Laptop Per Child] News has a Intel employee aboard. Not only has the OLPC News been critical of the OLPC project itself, but allegations are surfacing that the Intel employee actually works on Intel’s own junior laptop project. In a statement it says:

The OLPC News website in the past months has build up a reputation for sharply criticizing the $100 laptop project headed up by Nicholas Negroponte.

  The website in particular questions the project’s educational merits: will children automatically become more educated if you provide them with notebook computers? The site’s contributing authors tend to answer that question with a resounding “NO”. They then listen to their own echo in the echo chamber, ignoring the project’s educational goals to poke additional holes  in the project’s perceived strategy.

You can shrug your shoulders and simply ignore the blog, but Christopher Blizzard, one of the OLPC’s contributors and an employee for Red Hat, looked a little bit further. It turns out that one of  the site’s authors works on an Intel project that is competing with the OLPC. Oops.

Intel has never liked the the $100 laptop. The notebooks will use AMD chips and Intel is developing a series of competing computer designs for the developing world.

So it doesn’t take too much of a conspiracy theorist to believe that Intel is secretly bankrolling the OLPC-News website.

If this is true, it all goes back to I have mentioned before. The OLPC is going up against some big guns such as Microsoft and Inetl who are noted for not playing well with others. :-)

Silicon Vally Sleuth story is here

OLPC news site is here.

Comments welcome.

[tags]olpc, news, site, intel, employee, articles, amd, developing countries, news, allegations, sleuth,  [/tags]

Rebates Found In San Jose, CA Dumpster

My buddy Charlie send me a link to an article in the San Jose Mercury News that I thought I would share with all of you. I have done artciles in the past about rebates, so I found this of interest when I read it. Seems that a business employee found some 1300 rebate letters which had been dumped in their dumpster, near where the rebates were being sent. The rebates were for a USB networking hub for $3.50 each. Well the owner of the business who’s dumpster was used for the dumping, turned the letters over to Dean Takahashi who is a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News. He states in his article:

Vastech is a small computer accessories company owned by Weizhen Tan, who goes by William. I didn’t get a response when I sent e-mails as directed by Vastech’s Web site. And the company’s voice mail was always full. But he was there at the small office at 63 Bonaventura Drive in San Jose when I came calling, letters in hand.

`Bad employee’

In his cramped office, Tan acknowledged that his 4-year-old company wasbehind on processing rebates that it had offered to consumers from February to May. He said he wanted to apologize to his customers.When I asked why rebate letters were tossed out, he initially said it was due to a “bad employee.” Later, he said that it was probably done by a friend of the family who was not a formal employee but was supposed to be helping out. That person, he said, probably threw the letters out because of “laziness.” He said the person no longer does any work for the company.

Is it just me or does anyone else feel that this entire rebate mess should be outlawed?

Comments welcome.

Complete article here.

[tags]rebates, dumpster, employee, [/tags]