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In just a few decades, cellphones have totally taken over our lives. When was the last time you had to pull a map out of the glove compartment to navigate somewhere? Or had to stand out in the rain to hail a cab?

But are our devices completely safe? Are potential cellphone health impacts something to worry about?

We haven’t been using cellphones long enough to fully study long-term impacts or conclude that using them definitively causes specific diseases. But then again, it took decades to prove a surefire link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer, too.

Possible Cellphone Health Impacts

Now, I’m not suggesting we all ditch our phones. But the following findings may give you reasons to take some commonsense safety precautions to minimize your risk.

Brain Cancer

Cellphones emit non-ionizing radiation, which are radio waves known as a type of electromagnetic radiation. We do know that human tissue closest to cellphone antennas absorb some of this energy.  (1)

While studies linking cellphone use to brain cancer bring mixed results, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society did give credence to a particular research project. In 2016, the U.S. National Toxicology Program released data related to the agency’s large-scale, $25 million study investigating cellphone use and cancer risk. The results? Very high signal cellphone radiation did result in a slightly increased risk of malignant gliomas in the brain. Risk of schwannomas, rare tumors that develop on the nerve sheath of the heart, also increased with cellphone use. As the dose of radiation increased, so did cancer risk. (2, 3)

The World Health Organization listed cellphone radiation as a 2B carcinogen in 2011. That classification means cellphone radiation is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” (4)

Medical literature does suggest that beginning cellphone use during teenage years results in a four-to-five times higher risk of a brain cancer diagnosis. (5)

Thyroid Trouble

In a first-of-its-kind study published in the Oman Medical Journal,researchers found students who moderately and heavily used cellphones in talk mode experienced a significant alteration to thyroid stimulating hormone levels. (Higher than normal TSH levels, and low average T4 levels were observed.) That may not seem like a big deal, except that even tiny changes to thyroid hormone levels can alter brain function. The study authors say “based on these results, it may be concluded that electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones may cause some detrimental effects on thyroid function.” (6)Cellphone radiation may trigger negative effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary thyroid axis, throwing off normal thyroid hormone levels. (7) However, a 2016 study published in International Radiation Biology found no link between cellphone electromagnetic radiation and thyroid cancer. (8)

Sperm Damage

Men, please think twice about keeping your cellphone in your pocket or clipped to your belt. Sperm of men exposed to cellphone radiation die three times faster than those unexposed to the radiation. The sperm also experience three times the level of mitochondrial DNA damage, too. Not good news for men’s health or fertility. (9)

Cellphone Health: Protect Yourself

When it comes to cellphone radiation, it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can drastically reduce your exposure without giving up your device. Here are some common-sense tips:

  • Text instead of talking whenever possible, and use speaker mode or use a hands-free kit when you do make calls.

  • When talking on your cellphone, hold it an inch or more away from your head.

  • Make only short or essential calls on cellphones.

  • Avoid carrying your phone against the body, like in a pocket sock or bra.

  • Don’t talk on the phone or text while driving.

  • If you plan to watch a movie on your device, download it first, then switch to airplane mode while you watch.

  • If you can, avoid making calls when you have a weaker signal. Radiation is higher when your bars are lower.

  • Avoid making calls in cars, elevators, trains and buses. Cellphones work harder to push a signal through metal, so radiation increases.

  • Keep cellphones away from children and out of their mouths. (10)

Final Thoughts on Cellphone Health Threats

  • We’ve only been heavily using cellphones since the 1990s. That’s not enough time to get a full scope of potential long-term health impacts in humans. Remember, it took decades to draw a conclusive link between lung cancer and cigarette smoking.

  • Studies linking cellphones to cancer, particularly brain cancer, are mixed. But several recent well-designed studies suggests cellphone use could slightly increase the risk of certain types of brain cancers.

  • Electromagnetic radiation from cellphones could also tinker with hormone health, sleep patterns, mental health and more.

  • You can drastically reduce your exposure to cellphone radiation using simple tactics like texting by holding the phone away from your body instead of making long calls, keeping the phone on airplane or away from you while you sleep and not keeping your phone on your body all day.

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1st-Nov-2017 02:59 pm - Blue Zone Lessons on Healthy Living
Here comes another "Blue Zones" Lesson on living happily & healthy beyond modern day's life expectancy...

New book explores habits of Japan’s longest-living people.
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that roughly translates to “the happiness of always being busy.” More broadly, it means having a purpose or reason for living. A new book called Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life was written by Spaniards Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, who came up with the idea while chatting in a bar in Tokyo. Could ikigai, they wondered, be the reason Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world (86.8 years for women and 80.5 years for men, according to the World Health Organization), and lays claim to the highest ratio of people who live to the age of 100 or beyond?
To explore that question, Héctor and Francesc decided to interview Japan’s centenarians in person. After a year of research, they decamped for Ogimi, a rural town of 3,200 on the north end of the island of Okinawa. Ogimi has been nicknamed the Village of Longevity, as people live longer here than in any other place on the planet.
This distinction, of course, wouldn’t mean much if these elders turned out to be frail, sickly and depressed. But, as Héctor and Francesc discovered, the longest-living people in the world exude happiness, friendliness and a remarkable vigor. (One woman who had recently turned 104 beat the authors in gateball, a fast-paced, croquet-like sport popular among Okinawa’s older residents.)
As they conducted their interviews with the eldest residents of the town, the authors recognized that something even more powerful than the area’s rich natural resources and beauty was at work: “an uncommon joy that flows from its inhabitants and guides them through the long and pleasurable journey of their lives.”
Here are some regular habits that help the elders of Ogimi cultivate ikigai.

They stay busy without hurrying.
The older residents of Ogimi are always doing something, and they approach each activity attentively and slowly, whether preparing tea or crafting objects out of wicker. Every single elder the authors spoke to has a vegetable garden they tend to daily. As one centenarian noted, “I plant my own vegetables and cook them myself. That’s my ikigai.”

They nurture connections with friends every day.
Ogimi is divided into 17 neighborhoods and each one has a president and other community members in charge of things like culture, festivals, social activities and longevity. There are few restaurants and no bars in Ogimi. Instead, social life revolves around the community center where everyone gathers frequently for celebrations and events such as birthday parties, weekly gateball competitions and karaoke.
Read more about Okinawa: Secrets to a Happy Life

They move throughout the day.
Even the Ogimi townspeople who are over 80 and 90 years old are still highly active. They don’t go to the gym or exercise intensely, but they are on the move during the course of their daily routines. Most get up early and spend an hour or so before or after breakfast tending their gardens. They meet friends for walks. And almost everyone follows a morning warm-up called “radio taiso,” gentle exercises that were first introduced to Japan through radio broadcasts in 1928. The movements, such as lifting your arms above your head and circling them to your sides, are simple and take only a few minutes. But they’re an effective, low-intensity form of dynamic stretching that helps keep residents limber. Try the calisthenics yourself with this brief video.

They eat healthy foods in moderation.
Okinawans, research has shown, eat a diet rich in vegetables and herbs, and low in animal products. Daily staples, like seaweed, sweet potatoes, green tea and miso, are high in antioxidants. Okinawans consume one-third as much sugar and nearly half as much salt as the rest of Japan. Locals, the authors note, eat a wide variety of foods, especially vegetables and spices—an average of 18 different foods a day. They also consume fewer calories—1,758 per day compared to 2,068 in the rest of Japan and an estimated 2,200 to 3,300 calories in the U.S. The Okinawan diet is built around nutrient-dense, low-calorie vegetables and fruits. They also subscribe to the Japanese concept of hara hachi bu, which means “fill your belly to 80 percent.” In other words, stop eating before you feel completely full.

They connect with nature every day.
Okinawans spend time in nature—often while moving and engaging with friends. One Ogimi centenarian sums it up this way: “I wake up at 5 every morning, leave the house and walk to the sea. Then I go to a friend’s house, and we have tea together. That’s the secret to a long life: getting together with people, and going from place to place.”
Find Your Blue Zone for a Long and Happy Life:
More about "Blue Zone Project":

Increased transparency, new customer expectations and emerging technologies are disrupting traditional sources of competitiveness.

From mobile to machine learning, big data to blockchain, seemingly there’s no end to what technology can enable or improve.

As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, new technologies carry immense opportunities to transform the way we do business. These technologies are driving new ways of creating value in a circular economy, for both emerging and established businesses alike.

Given the fragility of the linear economy, based on its reliance on finite natural resources for growth, and as we move ever closer to the brink of our planet’s boundaries, it seems companies with their heads in the clouds could be the key to unlocking the value in a regenerative, recycling economy.

Technology and sustainability

Technological advancement has catalyzed the development and implementation of circular business models, driving new processes, new communication channels and new operational efficiencies that enable the decoupling of resource use from economic growth across industries and on a global scale.

Digital, physical and biological technologies are quickly maturing and, in some cases, demonstrating exponential growth in their application and uptake.

While digital technologies are based on computer sciences, electronics and communication, physical technologies focus on the basic property of materials, energy, forces of nature and their interaction. Meanwhile, biological technologies are primarily based on the structure and function of living organisms, their systems or the derivatives thereof.

Together, this combination of technologies gives an injection of momentum to disrupt current industry models. Here's a selection of leaders.

1. Rubicon Global (cloud, big data)

Rubicon’s cloud-based, big-data platform connects waste producers with a network of independent waste haulers across 50 states in the US and Canada, as well as 18 more countries. This enables higher diversion rates from landfill, creative reuse of waste material, optimized truck routes and the detailed analysis of waste data.

2. NCC (mobile)

Through their open eco-system, Loop Rocks platform, NCC are allowing the inherently asset-heavy construction industry to become more resource efficient. Their app makes waste from over 600 sites available to other companies at a reduced price, optimising the handling of waste and secondary masses in a smarter, cost-effective and more environmentally conscious manner.

"It seems companies with their heads in the clouds could be the key to unlocking the value in a regenerative, recycling economy."

3. Hello Tractor (machine-to-machine communication and mobile)

Based in Nigeria, Hello Tractor uses mobile technology to enable over 250,000 small-hold farmers to obtain tractor services on demand, improving their food and income security. Furthermore, the tractors are fitted with M2M technology to share information on the vehicle and its efficiency, in turn maximizing the use, extending the tractor's usable lifecycle and increasing the value yielded from the machine.

4. Apple (robotics)

Liam, Apple’s iPhone disassembly robot, has 29 arms and is capable of dismantling a discarded iPhone in 11 seconds, and separating its component parts into usable materials, capturing the value from previously discarded resources at an unprecedented rate. To date, Apple has captured 61 million pounds of material that is reusable in future products, including 2,204 pounds of gold, to a value of $40 million.

5. gCycle (bio-based materials)

Pioneers in the eco-friendly diaper industry, gCycle’s gDiaper is the world’s first certified cradle-to-cradle, 100 percent compostable children’s diaper. By replacing oil-based plastic with non-GMO corn biofilm, gDiapers allow childcare centers to divert 80 percent of their waste stream from landfill.

Technology is central to enabling and driving value in the circular economy. The importance and role of it is recognized by the Circulars, the world’s premier circular economy award program.


Related link:

What Happened to Canada's Economic Competitiveness?

A Conversation with Amory Lovins: Rocky Mountain Institute @35

Amidst the conversation about the need for reduced use of toxic chemicals and greater investment in "greener" chemistries for products, industrial processes and supply chains, a core question is "What’s the business case?" or sometimes simply, "What’s in it for me?"

A new compilation of case studies by the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell and the Massachusetts Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) offers some answers.

As proponents of green chemistry and pollution prevention often point out, reducing the use of toxic chemicals can produce business benefits including lower costs for waste disposal, raw materials, worker protection or liability coverage; increased production efficiency; reduced sick days and more. The decision also could come with marketing advantages. Of course, like other forms of company improvements, toxic chemicals use reduction sometimes requires an upfront investment.

"Not every toxics use reduction project leads to financial savings, but many do."

The Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) focuses on reducing the use of toxic chemicals as a means to protect human health and the environment, while supporting the competitiveness of Massachusetts businesses. Agencies responsible for helping implement TURA, including TURI and OTA, provide technical assistance, training and grants.

The new TURI report reviews the experience of several Massachusetts businesses that have worked to reduce their use of toxic chemicals. The companies range in size from family businesses with a handful of employees to multinational organizations with many thousands of workers. Some have saved money as a result of their work to reduce toxics. Others have opted to make changes that increased costs but offered other benefits. Below are some highlights from the case studies, organized by industry sector.

Cleaning up dry cleaning

Many dry-cleaning facilities are very small, family-run and often immigrant-owned businesses. It's common for them to clean clothing using perchloroethylene (perc), a toxic solvent that carries hazards related to worker exposure as well as exposure of the general population.

Beginning in 2008, TURI began providing technical assistance and grants to help these operations invest in professional wet cleaning equipment and eliminate the use of perc.

The grants ease the financial risk these small businesses faced in adopting new technology, but the switch makes sense even without the assistance. A financial analysis for five of these cleaners found that all saved money after investing in the new equipment. Over a 15-year period, the net present value associated with the investment in wet cleaning ranged from just over $28,000 to just under $475,000.

Rethinking decorative chrome plating

The market for decorative chrome plating in the United States has declined as manufacturing has shifted overseas, but toxics use reduction has helped some Massachusetts businesses weather these changing global markets.

One company, Columbia Manufacturing in Westfield, undertook a major facility upgrade, installing a new plating line as well as a closed-loop water treatment system. The changes yielded large reductions in chemical and water use and tripled the facility’s plating capacity.

Business representatives credit these improvements with keeping the company in business. From 2001 to 2015, Columbia calculated that its cumulative savings were about $3.85 million for nickel, $800,000 for chromium trioxide and $3 million for water and sewer costs.

Another business, Independent Plating in Worcester, has adopted a number of toxics use reduction techniques; some saved money while others increased costs. The business eliminated its use of cyanide compounds, reduced its use of virgin hydrochloric acid and eliminated the handling of liquid hydrofluoric acid, a highly toxic chemical. All these changes yielded cost savings.

Independent Plating converted its largest nickel chrome plating line from hexavalent to trivalent chromium, a safer alternative.

In 2012, with assistance from a TURI grant, Independent Plating converted its largest nickel chrome plating line from hexavalent to trivalent chromium, a safer alternative. The trivalent chromium plating line has higher annual operating costs but allows the business to meet customer demands for a safer alternative to hexavalent chromium.

Several of Independent Plating’s customers were able to qualify their products for green certifications and LEED points as a result of their supplier's shift to trivalent chromium. Independent Plating reports that the changes it has undertaken have improved the health and safety environment in the plant and that, overall, the reduction in chemical use has reduced costs and improved margins.

Reengineering biotechnology

ChemGenes, a small biotechnology firm based in Wilmington, invested in a new chromatography system as part of its commitment to toxics use reduction, making it possible to decrease its annual use of the solvents chloroform and hexane. Its adoption of the new chromatography system led to savings on chemical purchasing, hazardous waste disposal and other associated costs. From 2007 to 2012, cumulative savings exceeded $215,000, or about $43,000 per year. These savings have continued to accrue since then. They helped ChemGenes to grow, and the business hired four new staff.

The success of this project created momentum for a second toxics use reduction endeavor, the installation of a solvent recovery system. This system reduced ChemGenes' use of additional chemicals and allowed for substantial savings in chemical purchase costs. It also reduced the company's costs for transportation, insurance and disposal of hazardous waste. These savings were counterbalanced by additional annual operating costs related to maintenance, quality control and other activities, but net savings are estimated at just under $4,000 annually and are expected to last for the life of the equipment.

New approaches for paints and coatings

Stainless Steel Coatings, which hails from Lancaster, manufactures an industrial coating used in corrosive and high-impact applications. The company undertook several chemical substitutions, including eliminating the use of hexavalent chromium in one of its key products, a primer used with a polyurethane coating.

The alternative was more expensive than the hexavalent chromium-containing product. However, overall costs were reduced because a smaller amount of the replacement chemical was required in the formulation. Net input costs were equivalent after the substitution.

Remaking electronics manufacturing

The New England Lead-Free Electronics Consortium, convened and coordinated by TURI and UMass Lowell, brought together more than 25 businesses both within and outside Massachusetts to work collaboratively.

Between 2001 and 2011, the businesses worked collaboratively to test a range of lead-free materials for use in electronics applications. The consortium was able to show that lead-free electronics assembly produced results that were equal to or better than what had been achieved with lead, and that lead-free options were also effective for rework (repair) applications.

Driving new processes for auto body and auto repair shops

Auto repair and auto body shops use a variety of solvents and other toxic chemicals for parts cleaning and other tasks. This can lead to worker exposures on a routine basis, often affecting workers who lack access to training and appropriate personal protective equipment.

Mike’s Auto Body in Fall River used a TURI grant to purchase a lead-free wheel weight system, a new gun washing unit and a new set of brake cleaning and degreasing products. For wheel cleaning, Mike’s switched from a product containing highly hazardous hydrofluoric acid to a safer product. Some of these products cost more, and others cost less, but overall, after making these changes, Mike’s achieved annual savings of about $1,300.

The bottom line

Not every toxics use reduction project leads to financial savings, but many do. Even in the cases in which a business doesn’t save money, toxics use reduction can yield competitiveness benefits, including customer retention and product quality improvement. And of course, financial impacts are not the only consideration.

In more than one case, a pregnancy in the family motivated a dry cleaner to shift to wet cleaning. Other businesses emphasized the impact on employee morale of the toxics use reduction process and the positive recognition it can bring.

So the next time you are pushing to reduce toxic chemical use in your business and you’re asked, "What’s the business case?" add these cases.



It is an increasingly complex world we live in today. While disasters of all kinds (natural & man-made) seem to be everywhere…have we ever wondered:

What actually sustains us and all other life-forms in this modern world?

This working paper is simply a tribute to our mother earth. Without her, nothing exists (including our governments), and nothing matters anymore.

As a result, implementing long-term solutions to tackle climate change should therefore be seen as top priorities. In today's highly correlated world, by tackling climate change, it could also resolve many other issues, including our aging population and national security. Here, let us envision all the possibilities.

Solution #1 - Proactive Measures + Precautionary Principles

(1) EMF (Electromagnetic Frequency) Technology Re-design

Wireless technology is known to be harmful to the bee colonies, therefore, it would just be a matter of time - depending on individual's exposure thresholds - before we "humans" are being affected too. EU has defined "Electromagnetic Sensitivity" as illness that exhibit symptoms related to brain cancers, infertility, migraines, sleep disorders, chronic fatigues, hypertension, heart disease, anxiety, depression, etc. A potential epidemic is looming. This is especially true in

North America, where people are now being exposed to Wi-Fi 24/7 (e.g. Wi-Fi towers + Smart Meters everywhere), also much earlier in their life too (e.g. iPhones are becoming babies' latest nanny for busy moms!). Therefore, we should be proactive on this by:

1. Offering R&D funding to attract innovative proposals for re-design and improve current EMF technology, in a way that is clinically proven to be non-harmful to living species.

2. Enforcing a ban for marketing/selling cellular devices to children under 12 years-old (i.e. EU policy).

3. Assigning designated "cubicle" and/or "usage areas" for Wi-Fi to protect vulnerable population in public spaces, including schools, hospitals, public transit, etc. (i.e. EU policy)

4. Launching a nation-wide EMF Public Awareness Campaign to proactively prevent potential "EMF health epidemic" from happening in near future. Afterall, public awareness in EMF might also act as the real solution to resolving recent rises of mental health issues in teenagers.

(2) Nuclear Power Plants Phasing Out

By phasing out existing nuclear power plants, it will resolve problems in three areas:

1. National Security -- eliminating potential national disasters due to meltdown accidents and/or nuclear weapon invasion.

2. Pollution & Climate Change -- acting as a long-term solution to stop nuclear waste pollution in land and water (i.e. underground waste leaks due to more frequent earthquakes and natural disasters).

3. Economic Power House & Job Creation-- As a result of eliminating nuclear energy, our nation will finally have a chance to fully implement renewable energy as supply options (i.e. solar, wind, geothermal). This major breakthrough would finally move us forward in our stagnating climate change agenda, and attract local and foreign investors in this open-market of renewable energy.

(3) Localized District Energy Operations

This will prevent unnecessary seasonal/regional "black-outs" due mainly to unreliable power grid structures that are too lengthy and cumbersome to diagnose at the first place.

(4) Surplus Power Feedback to Grids

This strategy will serve two purposes:

1. To ensure continuous backup powers are readily available if black-outs ever happens.

2. To act as monetary incentives for individual house owners switch into renewable power generation system (i.e. For every kW surplus energy generated by house owner, they will receive 60% of rebates based on the current market price, whereas the power authority & provincial government will retain the remaining 40% for administrative and maintenance purposes.)

(5) Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) with "Packaging Deposit Levies" as Dual-Measure Policies

- All manufactures are required to "close-the-loop" for their product's production cycle, or will be faced with disposal penalties.

- To impose a mandatory Packaging Deposit Levies on all consumer products. The standard amount of charge will be determined by product size and whether or not it can be fully recycled in municipal facilities. The ultimate goal of implementing this "dual-measure" policy is to encourage advanced thinking on both sides (i.e. manufacturer and consumer). For instance, if juice/milk bottle would cost $0.25 extra, whereas CFL light bulbs' hard plastic case would cost $2 extra -- both sides will ought to re-think their "choices" (i.e. manufacturer: how we should re-package our products in order to have lower deposit fees being imposed? consumer: with infinite choices in the marketplace, I will choose a product with lowest deposit fees).

(6) Healthy Workforce Initiatives (HWI)

- Design & implement a province-wide workplace health-issue survey to "check-in" with worker from various sectors. The data results will reflect the necessary labour policy changes in response to our aging population and the correlations in work-life-balance for different generations (Baby Bloomers, Generation X, Y, Z).

- UK is the pioneer in taking proactive measures in building a resilient workforce. Since 2014, UK has launched nation-wide "Healthiest Workforce Study", along with annual nomination in rewarding the healthiest companies and employees.

- Major advantage for HWI include: As a win-win solution to address constrains in three areas:

1. Public Health -- By reversing the trends on preventable diseases that are directly related to stress and burnout (e.g. headache & migraine, insomnia, fatigue, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, etc), hospitals and medical teams can focus more on other emerging tasks and/or research projects.

2. Long-term Care & Employment Gaps -- With a healthy workforce, where everyone is happy and engaged, this would result an increase in team moral, productivity, and work satisfaction. An engaged worker is also more likely to continue working beyond their retirement years. Thus, an aging population could become a welcoming enhancement to the existing workforce, especially when employees' well-beings are being look after upon entering into the workforce.

Some of the proactive actions would include: (1) Implement "flexible work hours and/or working from home policy" to encourage work-life balance; (2) Implement "reduce work hours and/or workload policy" for employees over 55-years-old to encourage senior worker stay active at work after retirement; (3) Cultivate a national-wide respectful culture for seniors. Re-branding "seniors" as our community's "golden treasures". Encourage seniors to stay active by offering "seniors-free" on all local public transits. Encourage senior to participate in various skill-shares. For example, recruit seniors to teach community courses, also invite them to speak in school about their "unique" life stories. Partner with local schools, libraries and community centers to recruit seniors to act as mentors for younger generations. By remaining healthy and active, and being respected by societies, seniors will enjoy being alive longer, because they have good reasons to stay strong.

Solution #2 - Economy Trends Shifting & Reform

- Replace GDP with "XXX" and recognize "triple-bottom-line" for accounting measures -- to account for both tangible & intangible elements (e.g. work-home distance, volunteer time, pollution, noise, environmental crimes, health & welling-being index, etc).

- Recognize and act upon the subtle shifting trends in "Consumer Empowerment". Regardless of sectors or industries, "Business-to-Business (B2B)" must now begin to adopt "Business-to-Customers (B2C)" approaches in order to maintain one's market competitiveness.

- "Public-Private-Partnership" will be the essential foundation in future economic developments.

- Businesses and organizations must re-align short-term institutional incentives (i.e. election cycles, and quarterly earnings expectations etc), towards "long-term-focus" requirements to address our biggest collective challenges.

- Build into existing tax system to support a research university that gives away certain kinds of knowledge for free.

- Reinvent a property tax system where we have ownership of land that is registered in a government office, that people can pledge as collateral.

Solution #3 - Polycentric Community Planning

- To plan new communities with "self-sufficiency, localization" in mind. (e.g. utilize natural lights and off-grid power in all residential and commercial housing, with local farmers nearby and essential public services within 30km etc).

- "Checkerboard-Planning" - is a pilot project in Singapore designed to tackle the problem of urban density. It's unique design successfully balances the needs between building commercial/residential spaces along with green and walkable spaces for local communities.

- "Inclusive Urbanization" - is a planning model to transform "slums" or "ghost cities/towns" into liveable communities, which also helps eliminate the vulnerabilities to breed criminal grounds and/or terrorist networks.

Solution #4 - Educational & Behavioural Revolution

- Learn from Sweden: (1) new drivers must pass mandatory course on basic environmental impacts as a requirement before taking road test. (2) expose K-12 kids to the outdoor environments, and teach them to respect nature and all living creatures. This is the "key foundation" to help build a collective respectful culture with individual's good characters early on.

- "Pact and Stick K", UK's pioneering behavioural Insight Team, using "monetary perks & penalty" system to motivate user not to miss a gym session, etc.

- "O Power" Energy, using behavioural efficiency data system to help consumers be proactive in energy saving. .

- "Net-Zero Energy Commercial Buildings Initiatives (CBI)", aims to challenge buildings' net energy consumption to be matched with its own energy production for the year.

Solution #5 - The Idea of Charter City Strategy

In order to support the population of another billion people on this planet, we would have to dramatically reduce the human footprint on Earth by building more cities for people to live. To achieve this, we could begin with a charter that specifies all the rules required to attract the people who we'll need to build the city. With that charter, people will move there. The city can be built. This is the concept behind Charter City model.

To make Charter City work, we need good rules. We also need the choices for people - people can come live under the new charter, but not to be forced under it. The final thing we need are choices for leaders - we need to allow for the potential for partnerships between nations. For example: China & Britain had worked together to build the market model through its actions in Hong Kong, and it did more to reduce world poverty than all the aid programs that we've undertaken in the last century. So if we allow for these kind of partnerships to replicate, we can get those kinds of benefits scaled throughout the world.

In some cases, this will involve a delegation of responsibility, a delegation of control from one country to another to take over certain kinds of administrative responsibilities. This model is all about choices, both for leaders and for the people who will live there.

Final Remarks

In conclusion, to truly build a resilient nation, we must be open to new ideas, and willing to take the first steps for changes to happen. With this working paper, we have put forth our collective first steps for our governments. However, we must keep focusing on the ideas of reinventing good rules -- so we, as a nation, don't get stuck with bad rules -- that's when we will no doubt be moving steadily forward and making our world a better place for future generations.
Who is driving corporate sustainability forward? In this interview, David Lubin, co-founder and managing director of Constellation Research and Technology, shared his perspective on CFOs’ role in steering the wheel of these decisions.

Lubin is a serial entrepreneur, having founded and built several companies to scale. He is an expert in business analytics and corporate sustainability. He has served on the faculties of Harvard University and Tufts University.

Corporate sustainability is no longer an unfamiliar concept in the global market. It can be surprising to see the number of sustainability reports available online. The aggressive energy and resource commitments made by some large corporations are ambitious.

Have you ever wondered who is behind all of these changes?
It often takes a dedicated commitment made by a CEO to make a compelling case –  and an integrated sustainability plan carried out by the CFO to make it happen.

CEFF: Will the Trump administration harm progress on corporate sustainability?

Lubin: For most companies, I suspect there will not be any significant negative impacts at all. For the most part, companies are proceeding with the same plans at the same speed as they were before.

The very important exceptions are those companies in high-carbon-intensity sectors. For companies in those sectors that have lagged the market and delayed developing strategies to move toward a low-carbon economy, Trump has rewarded inaction.

CEFF: What would be impacted by Trump's administration?

Lubin: Historically, government does not have a great role in sustainability strategy here in the United States, except for establishing some incentives for product innovations like Energy Star or mandating standards in high-impact industries. We can expect these important signals to be diminished.

However, business forces driving sustainability behind the scene –  including resource efficiency, product innovation, and changing consumer demands– will remain the same under the new administration or may be accelerated.  For example, while the Environmental Protection Agency may relax the 2025 mpg standard, millennials under Trump may react by favoring cleaner vehicles.

That said, the opportunity to incentivize corporations, especially heavy emitters, to take on more aggressive commitments will be missed. And that time makes staying on a 2-degree pathway more difficult in the future.

CEFF: What are the reasons for companies to accelerate their sustainability progress in the coming years?

Lubin: Leading companies are moving to a more sustainable products and operations, including supply chains, because it supports their value proposition to their customers. In effect, customers tell them to do so.

Walmart is a great example. Its core value proposition is ‘everyday low prices.’ When it invests in clean-energy solutions or recycling programs – or dematerialized products like super-concentrated laundry detergent – it is integrating sustainability factors into its core business logic. Not only are these actions good for the world, they help support the ‘everyday low price’ commitment – they save money. Suppliers must comply. In many cases, there are gains for them as well. Walmart understands the future of a resource-constrained world and realizes that it needs to invest in strategies and capabilities that will enable it to remain competitive.

This is happening in many sectors. In the real-estate sector, for example, the business model for going green is a very good one. There is a higher occupancy rate in green buildings and a premium in rent rates that is well above the incremental costs of going green.

Consumers are more educated than ever about climate change and sustainability and are making more conscious buying decisions on these factors. This was not the case five years ago. We are now above pre-recession level.

Consumers need to continue doing their part in driving companies to change.  Companies see this as a slow but inevitable process.

CEFF: What are the core value drivers for corporate sustainability?

Lubin: Businesses have realized that the direction of change is one way – toward more sustainable solutions. The core business value drivers for sustainability include enhanced revenue growth from greener products, annual cost savings, and reduced sustainability-related risk. For most businesses, their most important sustainability programs are tied to these core value drivers.

CEFF: What are the long-term best practices for achieving corporate sustainability?

Lubin: There is no easy answer to this question. Developing and executing a robust sustainability strategy that has material impacts on a business is a complex process.
But, if I had to pick one aspect, I would say the first and perhaps most important step toward achieving best practices is to conduct an in-depth analysis of how climate and environment might impact the company's business performance, how the company might contribute to climate change, and how the competitive environment in which the company operates could change in important ways over the next decade. [The reason I mentioned] a decade is that for a big company, that’s the general time frame for significant change.

This scenario analysis can present a case for change and allow companies to envision a different future.

When we look at leading companies today, they almost always begin with a compelling case for change. For example, Unilever ‘s Healthy Living Plan, that aimed to double revenue while reducing impacts, was a response to a set of likely future conditions that called for a change in strategic direction toward more sustainable products for customers, more resilient suppliers, and more eco-efficient operations. It was built on years of experience running a broad portfolio of initiatives – but the plan pushed a new business logic.

Sustainability is not an extra wheel for Unilever. It is a fundamental enabler of its core value proposition. This is why the case for change is so strong.

CEFF: Who are the key players in driving sustainability practices in companies? What roles do CFOs play?

Lubin: One thing to remember about big companies is that things only happen when they are in the plan. And, in most cases, the CFO runs the planning process.

I would guess that of all companies whose sustainability strategies I have studied, only 10 to 20 percent are deeply integrated into the firm's business plan. This means that CEOs have built a compelling case for change and CFOs are fully on board with the business logic. CEOs drive integration of sustainability into business logic. And through the planning processes, CFOs allocate capital to sustainability initiatives that deliver against the plan targets.

For the rest of the 80 percent, sustainability is a complementary or supplementary program and is not really integrated into the plans and monthly operating reviews within the businesses. In these companies, CFOs are more likely to say no to good sustainability initiatives because they “aren’t in the plan.”

In my opinion, this is why sustainability reports contain so much anecdotal information and so little systematic reporting that links to business outcomes. This helps explain why mainstream analysts have been slow to appreciate sustainability drivers.

CEFF: What are the challenges when bringing CFOs on board?

Lubin: We can have all the proven transformational concepts ready, but without the CEOs making a case for integrating these changes into the business logic, CFOs are much more likely to reject initiatives. CFOs have a lot of experience with business cases that were a sure thing but didn’t actually produce – so they are risk-averse.

For CEOs to make a compelling case and get over this hurdle, they will need to connect business outcomes with sustainability initiatives. They will need evidence to show sustainability's impact on their businesses in a meaningful way that can be measured and managed. That’s helping the companies to grow, improving their profitability, and materially reducing risks.


Related links:

Best Ways to Speed-up Renewable Energy Investment Globally

An Integrated Perspective on the Future of Mobility

China Just Switched on the World's Largest Floating Solar Power Plant


Current 4G cell towers have about a dozen or so antenna ports to support all communication, the new, smaller 5G cell towers (or bases) will be MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) and carry about a hundred ports. These towers will probably be about 4 feet tall as opposed to the usual 90 feet towers currently erected around us. Cells will be available within a 100 meter range and these smart antennas will be able to differentiate between various mixed-up signals – like radio waves and WiFi signals – in the air and beam them back in an orderly fashion so to speak.

5G will break down data and send it in smaller sizes to offer significantly reduced transmission times. Data will be sent with only a 1 millisecond delay instead of a 50 millisecond delay commonly found with 4G. With communication this fast, it’ll allow machines to talk to each other with practically no room for error. As Marcus Weldon the CTO of Alcatel Lucent comments, “up until now, we’ve designed the networks for people and their needs, and now we’re designing it for things.”

The USA is currently leading the way on 5G. At the June 2016 press conference where the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) head Tom Wheeler announced the opening up of low, mid and high spectrum’s. They never mention any of health effects whatsoever. But the dangers are real.

Thousands of studies link low-level wireless radio frequency radiation exposures to a long list of adverse biological effects, including:

*DNA single and double strand breaks
*oxidative damage
*disruption of cell metabolism
*increased blood brain barrier permeability
*melatonin reduction
*disruption to brain glucose metabolism
*generation of stress proteins

Let’s not also forget that in 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) classified radio frequency radiation as a possible 2B carcinogen.

More recently the $25 million National Toxicology Program concluded that radio frequency radiation of the type currently used by cell phones can cause cancer.

But where does 5G fit into all this? Given that 5G is set to utilize frequencies above and below existing frequency bands 5G sits in the middle of all this. But the tendency (it varies from country to country) is for 5G to utilize the higher frequency bands. Which brings it’s own particular concerns.

The Dangers Of 5G – 11 Reasons To Be Concerned












How To Protect Yourself From 5G?

1) Understand your exposures. Understand the different types of EMFs and how they behave – hence the need to read (and share) articles like this one.

2) Measure – use EMF meters to obtain readings and identify hotspots.

3) Mitigate your exposure. Which means either eliminate the source, move further away from the source of radiation or shield your body.

Full article:

Related links:

Lakehead Says No Way to Wireless

Updates on Wi-Fi Shutdowns (EMR Health Alliance of BC)
According to a recent research publication from Bersin Research Library, between now and 2020, there are 11 top predictions that could impact the future outlook of Human Resources (HR), Learning & Development (L&D) and Talent Management. Here comes the highlights:

Prediction 1: Organizational Design Will Be Challenged Everywhere

Today, the key to organizational success is not “scalable efficiency,” but “scalable learning.” You, as an organization, must be able to experiment, put prototype products in front of customers, rapidly learn from your competitors, and stay ahead of your marketplace, industry, and technology trends. This means your whole organization has to focus on customer-centric learning, experimentation, and time to market.

The solution is often easy to understand, but hard to implement. We should break our functional groups into teams—teams focused on product releases, customers, markets, or geographies. These teams should be smaller, flatter, and more empowered—and leaders should focus on hands-on leadership, not leadership from behind a desk.

The Simply Irresistible Model.jpg

Cisco studied its organizational structure and found that the company already has more than 20,000 teams, with people sitting on many teams at the same time. This is true in nearly every company; we just have to design for it. Some of the possible changes should include:

• Formally creating small team structures (Jeff Bezos famously stated, “… if the team needs more than two pizzas for lunch, it’s too big.”)
• Radically reducing the number of job levels to incent people to strive for results and learning, not just promotions, as they move from job to job
• Changing reward systems to reward team success, not just individual success
• Redesigning goal management, so that goals can be updated quarterly, not annually, and goals are transparent and shared publicly
• Promoting young professionals into leadership early, so they can rapidly contribute to team success
• Teaching managers to manage “projects” not “people” (WL Gore)
• Providing “career coaches” and “sponsors” instead of “managers” to help people to grow
• Creating always-on learning, and a culture of exploration and discussion to enable continuous invention
• Sponsoring hackathons and other collaborative development programs to let people at all levels contribute
• Implementing information systems that deliver real-time dashboards and reports, so that all teams can operate with the same insights and perspectives

The books "Team of Teams", "The Silo Effect", and "Reinventing Organizations" describe how organizations will be structured in the future, with examples of companies that outperformed their larger peers by keeping teams small, communicating vigorously between teams, and using shared culture to bring people together.

Prediction 2: Culture and Engagement Will Remain Top Priorities

The Simply Irresistible Model.jpg
The Deloitte Human Capital Trends11 research shows that 86 percent of business leaders rate “culture” as one of the more urgent talent issues, yet only 14 percent understand what the “right culture” really is.

The problem is not one of “talking about culture”; for 2017, it is time to carefully define your culture, measure it, and find where and how it may be misaligned.

This problem is increasing in urgency. Our latest research on Millennials (about one-half of the workforce now) shows that two-thirds of Millennials now state their organization’s “purpose” is the reason they choose an employer. Similar data shows that baby boomers feel the same way. Only 27 percent of Millennials believe a company’s purpose is to make money (down from 35 percent in 2013), while the remainder believe the focus should be on stakeholders and impact.

What exactly is organizational culture? Quite simply, it is the reward systems and implicit behavior that takes place when nobody is looking. In other words, your culture drives all forms of optional and discretionary behavior.

Do your employees spend more time with clients? On quality? On safety? On compliance? On cost-cutting? Or perhaps on improving their own careers? Each of these micro-decisions we make during the day are driven by the implicit reward systems, examples, and messages conveyed by culture.

When “bad” things happen (i.e., misalignment, fraud, unethical behavior, etc.), there is usually a cultural problem underneath. One study found, for example, that “toxic employees” (those who commit fraud or crime) are contagious. People who work on the same floor as they do exhibit similar behaviors. This shows how powerful and possibly dangerous culture can be.

Part of culture is defining a purpose for your organization. Study after study have shown that companies with a strong sense of purpose and a clearly defined set of cultural values outperform their peers. Our newest research (Bersin by Deloitte High-Impact Leadership) proves that companies with a leadership culture are nine times more likely to be good at identifying and developing leaders than those lacking a leadership culture. Many reasons for this trend exist, but I suggest there are three big causes you cannot ignore.

a. Your culture is now transparent.
Thanks to websites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, employees are regularly talking about your company’s culture in a public way. When customers or employees are upset, people find out about it. So your culture has become an integral part of your brand which, in turn, impacts your ability to hire, the type of people who come to work for you, and the brand you convey to customers.

A large airline, for example, is now implementing a pulse survey tool designed to assess all of its employees (from flight attendants to baggage handlers) on its new cultural values. A large, well-known technology company has created a culture manifesto, which forms a complete redesign of the company and its job roles. Manufacturers that suffer product defects are reacting faster than ever; companies are raising wages; all over the world, we see businesses reacting to the need to build a focused and aligned culture through business decisions that mean serious investment and focus.

b. Culture brings teams together.
As your company operates more and more like a network of teams (regardless of what your organizational chart looks like), culture is what brings it all together. Why would a team share its findings with another versus compete for glory? Why would a team loan an expert to another versus hoard experts for themselves? Why would a team focus on customers versus internal promotion? All these behaviors are cultural—and should be reinforced through a strong set of cultural values.
If you look at the published best places to work and highest-performing companies on the S&P 500, you commonly find companies with a strong, well-branded culture.

c. Culture creates innovation.
When a company has a clearly defined culture (whatever that may be), it offers employees a sense of security and freedom— they know what to expect.

Today’s organizations cannot succeed in silos—so people who “fit the culture” and feel comfortable communicating throughout the company also tend to be most effective as individuals. Such a transparent and open environment can only happen when people feel authentic, included, and respected. All of these qualities come from a strong, reinforced, and well-documented culture. Even if your culture is one of “up or out” and “make your numbers or die,” communicating it clearly should bring clarity and freedom to people—and help your managers understand their roles in pushing forward the organization.

Hundreds of studies have shown that highly engaged employees are more productive, deliver better customer service, are more innovative, and are more likely to stay at your organization. Figure 3 identifies 20 key drivers of engagement today. You have to think about all of them—and monitor and listen for feedback to stay vigilant of problems.

Prediction 3: Real-Time Feedback and Analytics Will Explode in Maturity

2017 is the time for you to build a plan and roadmap for feedback systems (and tools) throughout your employee lifecycle.

Growth of People Analytics - as real-time feedback data grows in volume, and your company focuses more heavily on issues like culture, engagement, and external brand, your analytics team needs to keep up. Culture Path, for example (a Deloitte tool that helps companies to diagnose their business culture), produces data at an individual team level that can be matched directly with engagement, turnover, and other metrics. You will need an analytics team to bring all of this together. We have been studying HR and talent analytics for a decade now and, this year, the improvement in maturity is striking.

Prediction 4: A New Generation of Performance Management Tools Will Emerge

Over the last 15 years, companies have shifted from a very top-down, process-driven approach to employee performance management (and annual appraisals) to a much more agile, continuous, feedback based approach. Much of this is driven by the need to engage and empower young demanding employees, but much is also driven by a shift in management thinking.

We are in a new world of management. Employees want to be “empowered” and “inspired,” not told what to do. They want to provide feedback to their managers, not wait for a year to receive feedback from their managers. They want to discuss their goals on a regular basis, share them with others, and track progress from peers.

Prediction 5: A Focus on “Human Performance” and "Well-being" Will Become a Critical Part of HR, Talent, and Leadership

This leads to redefining what HR is really all about. Over the past few years, there were many written articles on how employees have become less productive, more over-worked, and less engaged with work. Some data may help you to see this:

• Overall engagement levels today are no higher than they were 10 years ago. Our analysis of Glassdoor data shows almost no improvement in overall employee ratings of their companies over the last seven years. (see Figure 4 from full report). The distribution continues to be a bell curve—just as many companies have terrible engagement as those who have high engagement.

•U.S. productivity after the launch of the iPhone (see Figure 12 from full report) has slowed, so the new tools and technologies we have at work (and there are far too many ways to message people now) are not making us more productive.

•U.S. workers take four to five days less vacation now than they did in 1998; research on PTO found that we left 658 million unused days in 2015 (220 million of which were lost).

•Almost 40 percent of employees believe “it is impossible to maintain a fast-growing career and a sound family life,” thanks to the “work-martyr” effect in companies.

The strategy for 2017 is to rethink this problem—and move HR from the “personnel department” to a new role as the “consultant in human performance.” A myriad of issues prevent us from getting work done productively—from our desks, office arrangements, tools, and management practices. One of HR’s biggest opportunities in 2017 is to get away from designing more programs to focusing on “making work-life better” with a focus on “how can we help individuals and teams perform.”

Initiatives like employee wellness, employee engagement, culture, and work-life balance are all contributors to this topic. At a meeting in late 2016, a senior HR manager asked, “What should I do to help people stop burning out at work?” The answer to much of this problem comes from senior leadership—if they send emails all weekend, people will feel obligated to respond and do the same. Is that a culture issue? A leadership competency? A productivity issue? It is all of the above. We in HR should look at this entire tapestry of issues in a holistic way and focus on integrating all of these various HR “programs” into a cohesive whole. For instance, we should consider things like email policies, nap rooms, exercise programs, and hundreds of other environmental programs as part of your “human performance” strategy.

Prediction 6: Focus on Employee Experience Will Overcome Process Design in HR

Many HR departments have started renaming themselves. Some call themselves “people operations” and others call themselves things like “people and culture.” The message here is not to simply find a way to seem more strategic, but actually change the identity of what HR organizations do.

Throughout our research over the years, we have ultimately found that the role of HR in business is to do one of three things: 1) Make sure the operational people processes work efficiently. 2) Build the talent system. 3) Understand, manage, and improve the employee experience, which would translate into the category of “making your company a productive, great place to work.” By focusing on culture, engagement, and an "end-to-end" set of experiences, etc would allow all employees (from new people to the most senior executives) to truly operate in a productive, customer-centric, and collaborative way.

While companies have been redesigning their buildings, benefit plans, vacation policies, and other various programs, they have not necessarily been focused on what each individual employee experiences. In 2017, using the new idea of design thinking, I believe most HR teams will stop designing “programs” and start designing “experiences."

In HR, we have to deal with hundreds of problems and issues. We have to brand, source, recruit, interview, hire, onboard, train, and lead people of all shapes and sizes. We have to deal with people in the wrong positions, people who need coaching, people who do not get along, and dozens of other challenging situations. We need to help business leaders to run the company well—giving them tools and support to manage people in the best possible way.

Today, in the “overwhelming” always-on technology environment of work, there is no way to do this by designing another “training program” or “on-boarding program.” You have to study and design the “learning experience” and “on-boarding journey.” We have many examples of this in our research library; in 2017, I think it will become central to your role, your mission, and your function.

Prediction 7: Digital HR and Learning Will Help Us to Reinvent L&D and HR Systems

Over the last five years, companies have invested billions of dollars into integrated, cloud-based, core HR systems. Yet new research from Cedar Crestone30 shows that, despite this investment, employees are still far from satisfied with their HR systems and solutions. We know employee engagement remains flat and productivity has yet to improve. What can HR do to be more proactive and innovative in our solutions? A solution is right before us. HR organizations now have to learn how to “be digital,” not just “buy digital products.” Digital solutions in HR (and learning) mean several things:
• Adoption of digital tools and design
• Increasing transparency & accountability
• Standardizing platforms
• Bringing heterogeneous platform experiences together
• HR teams rotation to maximize on collective learning experience

Prediction 8: The Leadership Market Will Start a Steady Process of Reinvention

One of the most important things HR organizations should do is to make sure that the organization has a ready supply of strong, well-aligned leaders. Leadership development (which is more than a $14 billion industry33) remains a high priority for HR and continues to be a challenge every year.
Our newest research on high-impact leadership shows that formal training tends to be the least valuable way to build leaders -- a focus on culture, exposure, organizational context, and continuous feedback and coaching is needed. That's why highly effective companies today focus on agility, team-centric performance, rapid talent mobility, continuous learning, and pushing to deliver products faster in a more iterative way.

Prediction 9: Diversity, Inclusion, and Unconscious Bias Will Become a Top Priority
In our High-Impact Talent Management research, which included more than 1,000 companies around the world, found that “building a culture of inclusion” is one of the very top practices that drive financial business outcomes among all of the HR practices we studied. Interesting to also note the financial performance of these “highly inclusive” companies in our research, as they:

• Generate 2.3 times more cash flow per employee
• Generate 1.4 times more revenue
• Rate themselves 170 percent better at innovation.
• Are 180 percent better in their ability to adapt to change
• Are 120 percent more capable of meeting financial targets

So the bottom line is pretty simple—building an end-to-end inclusion focus (including sourcing, hiring, assessment, development, leadership selection, compensation, and career progression) is just good business.

Prediction 10: The L&D Function Will Continue to Struggle

While many forward-thinking learning professionals are well along on this journey, I am afraid that almost two-thirds of the companies we survey are still stuck in an older model of corporate training. In 2017, we are going to re-publish our most well-known study, The High-Impact Learning Organization and, in the process, try to help you to see where the new “high-impact” digital learning organization is going.

But what has really changed for 2017 is the fact that today L&D should embrace “self-directed learning” and truly build a “learning experience” that helps individuals at all levels to learn all of the time. This means adopting micro-learning and an open video learning platform:

• Highlighting the issues of learning culture for leaders
• Prompting people to look at job rotation and continuous on-boarding programs
• Helping leaders to understand that coaching, developmental assignments, and career conversations are the foundation of building a learning organization.
If we go back to my first theme in this report, “digital organizations” are learning all the time. This means people are trying things, discussing mistakes, and learning on the job. L&D needs to take the lead in building and encouraging all of these cultural values—and in embedding themselves into the business to do so.

Prediction 11: The Future of Work Is Here and HR Is in the Hot Seat

AI, robotics, and cognitive systems are augmenting and changing jobs, professions, and careers. HR needs to learn about the future of work and help to redesign the organization faster than ever.

In other words, the future of work is not simply about using technology to replace people. The real “future of work” issue is all about making jobs “more human -- redesigning jobs, redesigning work, and redesigning organizations so that the “people side” of work has even more importance and focus than ever.

Full Report:

Related Links:

Workplace Revolution: Key Trends on How Work is Getting Done in 2017

6 Common Trends Good Managers Do to Create Engaged Teams

Building a Resilient Organizational Culture

Forget Free Vacations. This is What Employees Really Want -- "Workplace Engagment"

What's the Secret of Successful Teamwork? Be Nice...A Little Bit of Kindness can Make Your Team Unstoppable

Mindful Leadership - The Key to Creating Successful Organizations

The Meaning of Authentic Leadership
12th-Feb-2017 10:18 pm - Britain's Healthiest Workplace Study
Companies looking to safeguard their workforce must think beyond preventing ill health and take the opportunity to promote good health.

The Direct Links between Healthy Workforce & Economy

When we consider our health and wellbeing we often think about our diets, our exercise routines — or lack of them — or the last conversation we had with a healthcare professional. We often overlook the place where many of us spend most of our time — and that is work. This needs to change. Our work environment can have a substantial impact on our health and wellbeing. In 2015, some 440,000 cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety and about 553,000 cases of work-related muscular skeletal disorders — including back problems, repetitive strain injury to wrists and other similar ailments — were recorded in Britain. In the same period, 23.3m days were lost to work-related ill health, with mental illness and muscular-skeletal conditions accounting for the majority of days lost.

Good health and wellbeing improves what we do at work. Conversely, poor health and wellbeing is often associated with poor work performance. Ill health has a direct impact on individuals, on businesses and the wider economy — costing billions of pounds.

An Ever-Changing Workforce Dynamic

In today’s world, with an aging workforce and the economic challenges we face, it is more important than ever to talk about health at work. Investing time and resource into the health of our working population has clear business benefits. Informed analysis has shown that employees in good health can be up to three times as productive as those in poor health. They can experience fewer motivational problems, are more resilient to change and more likely to be engaged with business priorities.

Life Does Not End When We Leave the Office

As well as the economic cost to ill health, we must, crucially, not forget the human cost. Managing and supporting the health needs of those in employment presents an invaluable opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of our colleagues and their families. We know life does not end when we leave the office and neither do the issues that affect us when we are at work. Even small changes can have an effect on the health and wellbeing of those at work: changes in line management, facilities, company policies and provision of services. Just something as small as providing lockers and showers for those who want to cycle or run into work can make an important difference.

Thinking Beyond Prevention

We should also think beyond preventing ill health and make sure we take the opportunity to promote good health. It is not just about ensuring that the processes of HR departments are robust enough to catch people when they fall, but also about supporting staff with chances to improve their health. Models of good practice in both the private and public sector are worthy of celebration. Business in the Community’s Work-Well Model and Public Health England’s Workplace Charter, both provide tools for employers to examine their own processes and support mechanisms for employees. We need models like these to spread across businesses and the public sector. Employers need to push themselves to do more for the sake of their employees and ultimately the performance of their businesses.

Design & Share Best Practices

Collecting accurate data is a vital first step. You need to be aware of what the problems are so you can design relevant policies that benefit your team. These are best developed in co-operation with the workforce. Different levels of seniority and different divisions in an organization should feed ideas into the policies in order to support people effectively. We need to share the methods that comprise good practice, both nationally and internationally, and where there are lessons to be learned we should pay attention. We must champion the successful approaches and efforts that are made.

Leadership to Empower

Leadership is essential.“If you’re a leader you’ve got a responsibility to be a role model,” says Rachel Suff, policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. “If you say wellbeing is really important, that’s a powerful message.”

Positive signals from the top must be backed up by proper training and resources to enable middle managers to encourage health and wellbeing, says Andre Spicer, professor of organizational behaviour at Cass Business School in London. He warns that this can be tricky.

“They [middle managers] are at the tough end, juggling multiple demands,” he says. “They’re given demands that their team performs. So demands to comply with wellness initiatives can come down as just one more thing to do.” Explaining the business case behind workplace health and wellbeing is an important way to get line managers on side.

“We know that employee engagement and wellbeing are inextricably linked; it’s now broadly understood that one without the other can lead to burnout,” says BITC’s Aston. A further step would be to include health and wellbeing measures in companies’ business objectives, with line managers — among others — held to account for meeting them, she suggests.

About Britain's Healthiest Workplace:

Britain’s Healthiest Workplace was developed by VitalityHealth, the health insurer, and is determined in partnership with the University of Cambridge, research institute Rand Europe, the Financial Times and human resource consultants Mercer. It is the largest survey to identify the links between an employer’s commitment to workplace wellness and employee health, wellbeing and productivity.

All employers with a workforce of at least 20 in the UK — from the public, private and non-profit sectors — are eligible to participate. They register and complete an online questionnaire describing their
approach to health promotion and the wellbeing services and benefits they may offer. Staff fill out a confidential health assessment covering a broad range: lifestyle; behavioural, clinical and mental risk; stress and productivity and the extent to which staff may feel engaged in their employers’ programmes. Employers receive an overall health report.

Employees receive one with recommendations addressing the individual risks they may be facing. Britain’s Healthiest Workplace has been running for four years, with over 400 employers and nearly 100,000 employees surveyed during that time. In 2016, a record 169 employers and 34,182 employees took part. The data — split between small, medium and large organisations — show which workplaces harbour the UK’s healthiest employees, judged by risks relating to smoking, nutrition, physical activity, body composition and mental health. Scores for the healthiest employer assess culture, workplace stress and the provision and use of wellness facilities and services. An average of the two rankings determines the overall healthiest workplace. Read more about some of the winners on page 44.

Britain’s Healthiest Workplace is overseen by an advisory board including Professor Dame Carol Black, principal of Newnham College, Cambridge; Dr Justin Varney, Public Health England; Professor Stephen Bevan, The Work Foundation; Steve Boorman, Empactis; Professor Cary Cooper, Manchester Business School; Andrew Jack, Financial Times; Professor Theresa Marteau, University of Cambridge; Professor Martin Roland, University of Cambridge; and Shaun Subel, VitalityHealth.

Key Findings

l          160 employers of varying sizes and sectors across the UK took part in the 2016 survey, with 34,000 of their employees providing responses.
l          Health conditions among respondents mirror wider trends across the UK, with a clear north-south divide: Yorkshire and the Humber has the highest workplace stress levels, while the North East reports the largest proportion of obese employees.
l          The public sector has the biggest percentage of employees suffering signs of stress, depression and financial worries. It also has the highest estimated loss of productivity from absences and presenteeism.
l          Health programmes that focus on nutrition are the most widely offered by employers, principally through the provision of fresh drinking water and facilities to store and prepare healthy food.
l          Efforts to encourage physical activity, including providing space for bicycle storage and showers so that staff can cycle to work, are also widespread.
l          Initiatives such as stress management to support mental wellbeing, and measures designed to tackle the heavy toll of smoking and alcohol, are less common.
l          For all health programmes, there is a significant gap between their provision and the awareness, uptake and belief by staff that the initiatives are useful.
l          Employees with flexible hours and the ability to work from home report lower absences and greater job satisfaction, and consider themselves to be in better physical and mental health.
l          Those with inflexible hours, who are office-based and who face long commutes, are less productive and in poorer health.
l          There is a strong correlation between participation in workplace programmes and improved health and productivity.
l          Less presenteeism is reported among staff involved in initiatives to lose weight, exercise more and sleep an optimal seven to eight hours a night.
l          Participation increases when employers allow staff to take part in health promotion programmes during working hours. Organisations whose senior management invest in workplace health and measure the returns see better results.
l          73 per cent of employees surveyed have at least one form of work-related stress; 41 per cent have two or more; 21 per cent have three or more.
l          Half of employees surveyed said stress was due to unrealistic time pressure and demands; some 30 per cent said not being consulted about change in the workplace increased stress, while 28 per cent said it was a lack of control over the work that they do.
l          In addition, 5 per cent of employees said they were bullied on a frequent basis and 18 per cent that they had been bullied at some point in the previous 6 months.
l          Only 30.5 per cent of staff at large companies offering discounted gym membership were aware of the offer. Of those, 31.4 per cent took it up.
l          In large companies, healthy options in staff canteens, bicycle purchase schemes and clinical screening services all had awareness rates of less than 50 per cent.

Full article:

Related links:

After-work Emails: Banned in France, a "National Epidemic" in Canada

Is a Condensed, 3-day Work Week a Good Idea for Work-life Balance?

Study: Is Full-time Work Bad for Our Brains?

Please join us along with more than 40 presenters and thousands of sustainable business professionals for a 3-day virtual livestream to:

**Watch inspiring mainstage sessions on the future of sustainable business;

**Gain actionable insights on critical trends across six tracks: Design & the Circular Economy, Purpose & People, Materiality & Metrics, Stakeholders & Storytelling, Risk & Resilience, and The New Energy Landscape.

Even if you can't tune into the livestream, register for full access to the archived video following the event!

Tuesday, February 14: 1:20pm - 5:30pm
Wednesday, February 15: 8:20am - 12:30pm
Thursday, February 16: 9:50am - 12:00pm

**All Sessions are in Mountain Standard Time (MT)

About GreenBiz Forum:
Sustainability leaders from the world’s largest companies gather each year at the GreenBiz forum to explore pressing challenges and emerging opportunities in sustainable business. The event offers a rich blend of presentations, workshops and networking opportunities framed by the State of Green Business report, GreenBiz Group’s award-winning annual research and analysis of key sustainability metrics and trends. Attendees return from GreenBiz both inspired by what’s possible and ready to tackle their organization’s greatest sustainability challenges. GreenBiz is produced in collaboration with the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University.

To Register, please visit:

Related link:

Economy Literacy for a Green Economy
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