I can’t shake these stories. We didn’t write about them, so they didn't make the cut for us to offer to readers.
But I can’t get them out of my head, for a variety of reasons – curiosity, dismay, who knows? Take a look:
1. The anti-absenteeism drug
Vioxx is a joint pain drug that was on the market starting in 1999 until it was removed in 2004 because studies showed it could lead to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Because of its set entry and removal dates from the market, Norwegian economists were able to correlate the drug’s presence with data on worker absences. After the drug’s entry on the market in 1999, worker absences due to joint pain decreased. After the drug’s withdrawal from the market in 2004, worker absences increased by as much as 16 percent.
Interestingly, its removal from the market affected women’s absence rates even more than men’s. The researchers are quoted as saying that this confirms other studies showing “gender differences” in worker absentee rates. They theorize that since most women also work the so-called “second shift” of family and household duties after their work day is over, they have a harder time fighting off health issues such as joint pain.
The researchers concluded that decision-making about drug regulations should include potential labor supply effects, not just medical costs or clinical outcomes. (See Newswise.)
2. Abusive bosses benefit from their bad behavior
Why do some managers still act like jerks to their employees? Abusing employees “may be helpful and even mentally restorative for supervisors in the short-term,” says Michigan State professor Russell Johnson, co-author of new research on abusive bosses, published in the Academy of Management Journal.
It turns out that the effort required to suppress bad behavior can actually tax a person’s energy, so those who let it all hang out are less likely to feel that fatigue, according to the researchers.
But as you’d expect, abusive behavior in the workplace ultimately backfires on a manager as employees become less trusting and supportive, and morale and productivity take a dive.
To prevent such behavior, Johnson and his fellow researchers suggest a supervisor actually communicate more with employees. I’m not so sure this is a good idea, but I’ve never been an employee of an abusive manager, so I don’t know. (See Newswise.)
3. Don’t stop or you'll die
A new study seems to confirm some suspicions about my husband’s great-aunt’s death. My husband always suspected Madeline died because she stopped taking her daily aspirin by mouth, electing to dissolve it in oil and rub it on her skin. OK, what she did was not totally weird – she figured since it was for her joint pain, not her heart, why not rub it on the joint.
A team of Swedish researchers studied what happened when people stopped taking low-dose aspirin, whether out of forgetfulness or not liking a side effect. Combing through medical records of over half a million Swedes, they found that patients who quit their aspirin were 37 percent more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke. (See Circulation.)
4. Disaster plans are ‘paper tigers’
Horror stories of nursing home residents dying after recent hurricanes are wrenching to read. But a Kaiser Health News story seems to indicate there are many such potential tragedies just waiting to happen.
It notes that inspectors found a Texas nursing home staff never planned how to evacuate wheelchair-bound patients down its stairs. A Colorado nursing home’s courtyard gate was locked, and no one had the combination to open it. And in Chicago, a burning nursing home was evacuated in the wrong order, starting with residents farthest away from the fire.
It quotes a nursing home association executive who says that the industry has learned from each emergency how to better plan for evacuations. Does that strike a wrong note to anyone else besides me? What if the ‘emergency’ involved your mother?
But having a plan is not enough, one expert says. Inspectors should have staff actually demonstrate their plan, says Dr. David Marcozzi, former director of the federal emergency preparedness program for health care. “If you have not implemented and exercised plans, they are paper tigers.”
Another story that seems to fall into the category of “duh, why weren’t they doing that before.”
5. Retirees: “We’re baaack”
For those of us burned by the Great Recession of 2008, it’s weird to even write this question, but here goes: How to you address the situation of 100,000 unfilled jobs?
We should have such problems, eh? But of course it’s a serious issue in many parts of the U.S. In Michigan, you solve it by making it easier for companies to hire retirees as temps or part-time employees.
The Lansing State Journal reports on a new program that coordinates with businesses needing workers, via the AARP, local chambers of commerce, and state economic development resources.
Businesses get help connecting to what is becoming a growing supply of experienced former workers -- the baby boomers who are retiring at the often-quoted rate of 10,000 per day. And, one supposes, these retirees get money, brain stimulation, socialization, and a reason to be happy that the weekend has come.
The program is being piloted in four Michigan counties: Ingham, Jackson, Macomb and Wayne.
6. We want change, we fear change
I remember as a young mother how hard it was to juggle work and small children. I said something to a friend about ‘they said we could have it all but we can’t.’ My friend corrected me with a quote that was widely circulating at the time: “You can have it all, just not all at once.”
That quote reminds me of how “they” said you had to stay in one career for your life. But these days, due to changes in industries and the economy, you had better be open to having multiple careers (just not all at once.)
A survey for the University of Phoenix by Harris Poll says that 58 percent of working adults it studied are interested in changing careers. Given that BenefitsPRO readers are in two rapidly changing industries, health insurance and financial services, I wonder if that makes you more likely or less likely to want to change careers. Maybe it depends on whether you find change exciting or daunting.
Harris found the top reasons respondents gave for wanting to change careers were either economic or emotional:
◦ 41% -- I don’t make enough money
◦ 28% -- I am burned out in my current field
◦ 26% -- There is no upward mobility in my current field
◦ 24% -- I have lost interest or passion in my field
But, as you might suspect, most adults find reasons not to change. The key impediments the Harris Poll found to making career changes were these:
◦ 29% -- Financial risk of starting over
◦ 24% -- Perceived lack of adequate experience
◦ 21% -- Perceived lack of education
Basically, they were held back by fear and lack of confidence.