• Hacking Work International
  • Posts
  • #6: Stand-up comedy, part of the modern on-boarding; Global wage gaps: the remote work dilemma; Benefits are failing working families.

#6: Stand-up comedy, part of the modern on-boarding; Global wage gaps: the remote work dilemma; Benefits are failing working families.

Vampire Tasks: fighting the energy suckers of productivity; The Golden Age of 60: reimagining life's prime; Dementia can be predicted 10 years before.

Welcome to the sixth edition of the Hacking Work International Newsletter!

Here’s what you can expect every Thursday:
Updates on the global job market; the latest developments in leadership and organisational culture; valuable insights into professional and educational landscapes; modern perspectives on careers; and the evolving nature of work.

In today's email:

Want to keep working from home? You get less money.

Employees who work remotely could be on the receiving end of lower wages from European companies as they look for ways to increase production and cut costs, according to new research from Pleo. One in five small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe are considering cutting wages for remote workers.

The idea is not new, but the debate continues to rage, with some employers arguing that the lack of commuting and the freedom to live where they want translates into a lower cost of living than those who work in the office. Others argue that teleworkers are just as productive as in-office workers and actually reduce costs for employers, so they should be paid the same.

As more and more companies give up the option to work remotely, they risk losing valuable employees. According to LinkedIn's Global State of Remote and Hybrid Work report, demand for remote jobs has far outstripped supply in the United States, with 50% of employees preferring remote and hybrid jobs to traditional ones.

Employers turn a blind eye to working parents.

A working parent in a home office, multitasking with a child in a baby carrier on their back.

86% of working parents do not feel supported by the benefits package offered by their employer, according to a new survey by REC Parenting. What's more, 40% of working parents have considered quitting their job because of the pressure of juggling work and family life, with mothers (46%) more likely to do so than fathers (32%).

Only 14% of parents feel that benefits are thought through and take their needs into account, and a modest 2 in 10 receive some form of specific support in the package offered by their boss. Of these, parents are most likely to receive benefits related to personal mental health (38%), childcare vouchers (27%) and family-friendly health services (22%).

Lindsey Doe, benefits manager for Vivup's FamilyCare, stresses that support for working parents should start during pregnancy and continue as the children grow up - when it may be most needed - on the principle of "little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems". She suggests access to counselling for teenagers with mental health problems or financial support at difficult times, such as contributing to childcare costs on school strike days, and suggests that employers who want loyal teams should frequently remind parents that they understand their challenges and are there for them.

Mandy Garner, editor of workingmums.co.uk, believes that one of the most important benefits employers can offer parents is flexibility in the workplace. A separate survey she conducted found that 73% of mums consider flexibility a deciding factor when applying for a new job, and 52% have turned down a new job because of a lack of it.

Fear does not motivate people. But what does?

In the age of technological innovation, the threat of being made redundant by artificial intelligence is a real stress booster, but research shows it doesn't motivate employees to be more productive or take on additional responsibilities. A sign that fear is never an effective motivator.

Despite the economic uncertainty and constant changes in the working environment that have shaped their careers, employees continue to prioritise work-life balance and mental and physical health. According to the research, 67% of employees want to spend more time with loved ones, 64% want to focus more on health and 58% consider travel a priority. In contrast, work-related aspirations such as promotion are much lower on the list of priorities.

To motivate people, business leaders need to create a working environment that exudes support and belonging, reduces unnecessary stress and addresses employees' real desire for work-life balance. In doing so, they will naturally allay fears of AI and create a working environment that promotes both productivity and employee satisfaction.

Byte-sized news

Reimagining "the prime of life". The new golden age of happiness and confidence: 60. A new study shatters the myths about ageing and concludes that most people reach their peak happiness and confidence at 60. Instead of the fears of ageing, the research shows that it comes with unexpected rewards: a clearer mind, a stable life and a genuine appreciation of the present moment. These findings contradict the common perception that youth is the prime age of life, and show that retirement can bring the highest levels of personal satisfaction.
The world's 30 unhappiest countries. Hollywood has given us the impression that the pursuit of happiness is a global one, but hundreds of millions of people face other harsh realities. Poverty is the main cause of unhappiness. Poverty leads to political instability, which is another major contributor to unhappiness by fostering an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty and hopelessness. The international poverty line is $2.15/day/person. It is the threshold that determines whether a person is living in poverty. Romania is far behind these countries, although, according to the INS, 4.02 million Romanians live in poverty (but the figure is estimated on the basis of other indicators).
The importance of breaks. A 58-second story by Simon Sinek.
Re-organise your to-do list using the ABCDE method. Ranking tasks according to their importance and urgency can change the way you approach everyday challenges. Experts say we find it easier to prioritise our tasks if we keep these things in mind: 'A' tasks are the most important, with significant consequences if neglected, while 'B' tasks are important but not necessarily urgent. "C ' tasks are useful but have no consequences if neglected, 'D ' tasks can be delegated to others, and 'E' tasks are those that can be eliminated from your schedule altogether. The method, taken from the book "Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time" by Brian Tracy, provides a realistic structure for planning and executing your tasks in an efficient, pragmatic and stress-reducing way.
Changes at the top of the world's major economic powers: Japan and the UK have slipped into recession. Japan, surprised by a 0.4% GDP contraction in the final quarter of 2023, loses the title of third largest economy to Germany. The UK, on the other hand, shrinks by 0.3% in the last three months of 2023 - its weakest annual performance since the 2008 global financial crisis, excluding the impact of the pandemic.
Pandemic school closures could delay global growth by up to 40 years, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Estimates show that a drop in performance during the pandemic, due to online learning and economic disadvantage, could have a negative impact on global productivity, knowledge diffusion and innovation for the next 30-40 years. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds have struggled with online learning due to a lack of resources such as access to the internet, computers, study space and support from teachers and peers. In some countries, prolonged school closures affected not only academic performance but also pupils' mental health, according to the report.
Generation X - the first generation of workers to retire with less money than their parents and grandparents. According to a Schroders survey, 61% of working Gen X Americans are not confident they will have a comfortable retirement. With the average savings requirement for a comfortable retirement estimated at around $1.1 million, Gen X Americans expect to retire with an average savings of only around $660,000 - a gap of around $450,000. They will be the first to experience the major shift from traditional to defined contribution retirement plans. With the responsibility for saving shifting from employers to employees and the pressure of their own financial security weighing heavily on their shoulders, Gen Xers will need to plan and save more seriously for the future.
Unproductive Fridays are costing the US economy up to $1.9 trillion. Researchers at Texas A&M University studied the impact of Friday and found reduced productivity regardless of where employees work, whether in the office or at home. Researchers at Texas A&M University looked at the effect of Friday and found that productivity drops regardless of where people work - and whether employees are in the office or working from home. What's more, this has become a costly challenge for the US economy, costing nearly $2 trillion. To counter this trend, companies such as Oyster have introduced the concept of 'Meetingless Fridays', giving employees more time to get work done without distractions.
Feeling uncertain in today's job market? Whether you're facing layoffs or recovering from job loss, we have your back. Our new article featured on Medium provides actionable steps to manage negative thoughts, prepare for potential layoffs, and cope with unemployment. From updating your resume to exploring personal development, we've got you covered. Plus, we discuss emerging trends like Layoff Diaries on TikTok and share insights on maintaining professionalism online. Whether you seek solidarity or practical guidance, this article has it all - dive in and empower yourself today.

Dementia can be predicted 10 years before it's diagnosed.

British scientists have identified dementia-specific proteins and are on the way to a blood test that can predict the disease 10 years before symptoms appear, a major step towards finding a cure.

Researchers from the University of Warwick and Fudan University trained machine learning models to analyse blood samples taken between 2006 and 2010 from 52,645 volunteers enrolled in the UK Biobank project. Of these, 1,417 went on to develop Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia or dementia from any cause.

They identified 1,463 proteins associated with dementia, which the researchers ranked according to the likelihood that each of them indicated the onset of the disease. People with higher blood levels of the proteins GFAP, NEFL, GDF15 and LTBP2 were significantly more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia or dementia from any cause. People with high levels of GFAP had a 2.32-fold increased risk of developing dementia.

The study, published in the journal Nature Aging, is seen as an important step in the prevention of dementia. In the United States, an estimated 10% of adults over the age of 65 have dementia. What's more, treating the disease is a burden for both patients and their families.

Emotional intelligence - the antidote to workplace toxicity?

Toxicity in the workplace has become a hot topic in recent years. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, employees who are exposed to a toxic work environment are more than three times more likely to report mental health problems than those who experience a healthy work environment (52% vs. 15%).

A toxic workplace culture “is a culture in which conflict is common and the work environment is negative because of unethical behaviors, a lack of inclusion and disrespect.”, according to Business Leadership Today.  Emotional intelligence plays an important role in combating toxicity in the workplace, as it is associated with the ability to identify, understand and manage one's own and others' emotions. The World Economic Forum ranks emotional intelligence as one of the most important skills for workplace excellence. McKinsey also highlights the need for social and emotional skills, predicting that their importance among employees will grow faster than cognitive skills.

The real-time processing of emotions, essential to emotional intelligence, is based on a cascade model that includes: perceiving, understanding, regulating and managing emotions.  By applying these steps, employees and leaders can ensure interpersonal relationships, resilience and conflict management. We can therefore say that there is a clear link between emotional intelligence and job performance.

The 5 most in-demand tech skills beyond AI + where to learn them.

In 2024, anyone looking to secure a relevant career in tech will need to know which tech skills are the fastest growing. Magnit, a workforce management company, has identified five key skills that will dominate the market, beyond those strictly related to artificial intelligence:

  • Microsoft Azure - a cloud computing platform that helps organisations access a range of services, from data storage to application management. Microsoft offers a learning path to master Azure.

  • Data analytics - the ability to collect, analyse and interpret complex data for decision making and solution development. General Assembly and LinkedIn Learning are excellent platforms for developing these skills.

  • AWS (Amazon Web Services ) - similar to Azure, but with differences in pricing model and flexibility. Amazon promotes the AWS Skill Builder platform for acquiring the necessary skills.

  • Jira - a collaboration and workflow sharing tool commonly used in software project management. Atlassian University provides courses and certifications.

  • Cybersecurity - As more organisations and employees work from home, cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important. Courses such as Google's Cybersecurity Professional Certificate on Coursera provide a solid foundation in this area.

For anyone working in, or aspiring to work in technology, these skills are essential. Each of them ranks alongside software skills as the most important in a professional's toolkit - and can give you a serious competitive edge in the years to come.

"Indispensable" in the pandemic, today 80% of employees feel far from a priority.

As organisations scramble to meet employees' demands for remote working, flexibility and professional development, one critical group of employees is being left out of the conversation entirely: the 80% of employees who spend their working day somewhere other than behind a desk.

From plumbers to pilots, firefighters to production line workers, they have been hailed as "essential workers" during the pandemic. People on the front line, whose work continues despite the risks, providing continuity in hard-to-reach areas. But a new study by the O.C. Tanner Institute reveals that they are now feeling dangerously demoralised - and the gulf between them and 'office workers' is widening as employers' efforts are disproportionately felt.

Experts say it is vital that organisations act to remedy this situation and make their employees feel seen, heard and valued. This will lead to a significant increase in their engagement and job satisfaction, which, you know, we need even when there is no imminent danger.

The vampire tasks — what are they, and how do we shake them off?

Those little tasks on our to-do list can be real energy vampires, sucking the life out of us and wrecking our work mojo, experts say. Cecily Motley, co-founder of Harriet, an AI assistant, points out that these repetitive tasks — like scheduling meetings and tackling emails - gobble up precious time that could be better spent on focused work or high-impact projects. To tackle this issue and boost our productivity, she suggests three down-to-earth tactics:

  • Realistic time blocking: Carving out chunks of time in our calendar for specific tasks, including admin sessions, can create uninterrupted stretches for important projects. It's crucial to be honest about how long each task will take and to clearly communicate our schedule to colleagues and bosses. This will help ward off that feeling of “not doing enough” by the end of the day.

  • Turning off notifications: Those pesky pop-ups can easily derail our focus and make us treat minor tasks like major emergencies. A simple fix? Turn them off and tackle messages in dedicated time slots when we're mentally prepared for it.

  • Setting firm boundaries: Saying no to unnecessary tasks not only prevents burnout but also earns respect in the workplace. It's all about being polite yet assertive, and exploring tools that can lighten the load of admin work and task juggling.


You want to keep up with the latest trends? Check out the Trends Newsletter by The Hustle. It’s a 5-minute newsletter keeping 2M+ innovators in the loop with stories on business, tech, and the internet.
Are you a professional content creator? Then, this newsletter might come in handy. The Tilt is a great resource for growing content creators. It focuses on helping creators grow as entrepreneurs who don’t rely on social media platforms.

Fake it til you make it. What is 'applied improvisation' and how does it fit in the workplace?

Global businesses, including major players like Google, McKinsey, and PepsiCo, are adopting improvisational theater techniques to enhance the social and presentation skills of their employees, a practice referred to as 'applied improvisation.' Derived from methods used in the performing arts, this approach aims to foster quick, creative thinking and has been integrated into organisational development programs to strengthen bonds between team members and reinforce company ethos. According to Theodore Klein, a managing partner at Boston Strategy Group, applied improvisation helps teams collaborate more effectively, building trust, fostering cooperation, and improving communication.

Beyond simply improving organisational performance, applied improvisation also enhances psychological safety among employees, enabling them to feel at ease within their teams and to be more candid and open. Companies implement this form of training in various ways, ranging from modular improv classes to training sessions incorporated into team-building activities. For instance, the New York-based communications agency Peppercomm has integrated stand-up comedy training into its onboarding process, assisting employees in honing their presentation skills and enhancing client interactions. This approach not only elevates individual performance but also yields positive effects on team dynamics, loyalty, and organisational culture.

Send the newsletter to a friend

The newsletter is written by the Hacking Work team: Cristina, IoanaIzabellaAndreea, Ionuț, Loredana, Tibi, Iulia, Alexia and Doru.

Follow us on X @hackingwork_net.

Thank you for reading & sharing.

Join the conversation

or to participate.