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Suicide Rates On The Rise Among U.S. Workers

Promoting social interaction rather than isolation in daily tasks on the job may help with suicide prevention.

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Suicide, Life expectancy
A young volunteer helps set up lights in paper bags decorated with messages for loved ones during an Out of the Darkness Walk event organized by the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. VOA

From 2000 to 2016, the U.S. suicide rate among those aged 16 to 64 rose 34 percent, from 12.9 deaths for every 100,000 people in the population to 17.3 per 100,000, according to the study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The highest suicide rate among men was for workers in construction and mining jobs, with 43.6 deaths for every 100,000 workers in 2012 and 53.2 deaths per 100,000 in 2015, the analysis found.

The highest suicide rate among women was for workers in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media, with 11.7 fatalities for every 100,000 workers in 2012 and 15.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2015.

“Since most adults spend a great deal of their time at work, the workplace is an important and underutilized venue for suicide prevention,” said study co-author Deborah Stone, a behavioral scientist at the CDC in Atlanta.

Facebook, U.S., workers
A man works in the war room, where Facebook monitors election-related content, in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

While the study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how specific types of jobs or workplace characteristics might contribute to the risk of suicide, lack of control over employment and a lack of job security can both be stressors that make suicide more likely, Stone said by email.

Many factors outside the workplace can also influence the risk of suicide, including relationship problems, substance use, physical or mental health, finances or legal problems, Stone added.

And ready access to guns and other weapons have a big impact on whether suicidal thoughts turn into actions with fatal outcomes, Stone said.

Guns may explain the higher suicide rates among men than among women, said Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute in Boise, Idaho.

“In America, with ready access to guns, men make the choice of death by gun, but it is the less likely choice by females,” Namie, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Hence, it is possible that in moments of despair that might pass if friends or family could intervene, with a gun handy, the decision is too quickly implemented.”

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To assess suicide rates by occupation, the CDC examined data collected from 17 states in 2012 and 2015.

Data from 17 states

To assess suicide rates by occupation, the CDC examined data collected from 17 states in 2012 and 2015; the results are not representative of the nation as a whole. The results were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Although arts, design, entertainment, sports and media had the highest suicide rates among women, this category saw the biggest increase in suicide rate among men during the study. For women, the biggest increase in suicide rates was in the food service industry.

One limitation of the study is that it didn’t examine suicide methods. It also excluded two groups of Americans that typically have stressors that can increase their risk of suicide: military veterans and unemployed people.

Even so, the results suggest that employers can play a role in suicide prevention by offering worksite wellness programs, encouraging use of behavioral and mental health services, and training workers in the warning signs of suicide and how to respond, Stone said.

Also Read: Suicides Can Be Prevented, Says Expert Through Government Policies

Promoting social interaction rather than isolation in daily tasks on the job may also help with suicide prevention, along with creating a workplace culture of inclusion that does not allow for abusive conduct or bullying, Namie said.

The road to suicide begins when one employee begins a “systematic campaign of interpersonal destruction against another employee,” Namie said. “Bullying is the most preventable predictor of suicide.” (VOA)

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86% Workers Worldwide Wish to Acquire New Skills from Employers: Survey

A survey suggests that 86% workers globally demand new skills training from their employers

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workers
About 86 per cent of office workers globally wish their employer offered opportunities or training to acquire new skills. Pixabay

About 86 per cent of office workers around the world wish their employer offered opportunities to acquire new skills, said a survey on Monday.

Nearly 83 per cent respondents said they wish their employer gave them more opportunities to enhance their current skills, said the survey by US-based enterprise robotic process automation (RPA) software company UiPath.

The desire for upskilling and reskilling opportunities stems from fear of job loss and decreased productivity due to outdated skills, the results showed.

The survey of 4,500 office workers across India, Germany, the US, the UK, France and Singapore, conducted in February and March this year, uncovered that over 90 per cent of office workers believe their employers should be more willing to invest in digital and technology skills training for their employees.

“Now more than ever, digital skillsets are necessary. Employers need to provide their employees with new training initiatives so they can best leverage technology like automation so they’re more productive and satisfied in their careers,” Tom Clancy, Senior Vice President, UiPath Learning, said in a statement.

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According to the survey, nearly 83 per cent workers said they wish their employer gave them more opportunities to enhance their current skills. Pixabay

Also Read: Above 6 Million 5G Network Subscribers in South Korea, Reveals Govt Data

“Employers should offer digital training as part of career development initiatives as it is proven to enhance retention and boost business productivity.”

A full third of office workers globally fear their current roles will advance past their current skills, and 25 per cent worry about losing their job due to automation, said the survey. (IANS)

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Microsoft Lays Off News Production Workers; Replace Them With AI

A report suggests that Microsoft has cut off its editorial staff and replaced them with AI

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Microsoft
Microsoft cuts off staff and replaces them with artificial intelligence. Pxabay

Microsoft is reportedly laying off at least 50 news production workers and replacing them with artificial intelligence (AI)-based algorithms to perform their editorial duties.

According to a report in the Seattle Times on Saturday, the roughly 50 employees contracted through staffing agencies Aquent, IFG and MAQ Consulting have been notified “that their services would no longer be needed beyond June 30”.

These news production contractors work with Microsoft News, the company’s news content arm that operates MSN.com and other properties.

A Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement that like all companies, they evaluate business on a regular basis.

“This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, redeployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic,” said the Microsoft spokesperson.

artificial-intelligence microsoft
All the work, duty and tasks of the workers will be performed by AI. Pixabay

Also Read: The Future Of India will Be Based on ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’

Some employees told Seattle Times that “MSN will use AI to replace the production work they’d been doing”.

The work includes using algorithms to identify trending news stories from dozens of publishing partners, rewrite headlines or adding better photographs or slide shows.

Besides the production work, the contract employees also planned content, maintained the editorial calendars of partner news websites and assigned content to them. (IANS)

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Facebook Workplace Gathers 5 Million Paid Users

Facebook Workplace has added 2 million paid users since October

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Facebook
Facebook has added 2 million paid users, out of the 5 million since october. Pixabay

With the Covid-19 pandemic dramatically accelerating the shift to remote work, Facebook’s collaboration tool for businesses, Workplace, has amassed five million paid users — up two million since October.

And Work Groups, a type of Facebook Group that helps people connect with their coworkers, has over 20 million monthly active users after just six months, Facebook said in a blog post on Thursday.

“Today we’re introducing new video features in Workplace We’re also adding features to Workplace on Portal, and widely releasing Oculus for Business to meet early demand for VR-powered training and collaboration,” the social networking giant said.

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Now users can invite up to 50 people to a video call. Pixabay

For example, with Workplace Rooms, users can invite up to 50 people to a video call even if they are not in their company or do not have a Workplace account.

“Whether you’re holding team meetings, hosting a virtual happy hour, or just jumping on quick one-on-one calls, you can easily create video call links from Workplace Chat, Groups, News Feed or Portal, then share them in a chat, post, email or text message, Facebook said.

A new way to go live on Workplace from your desktop is “Live Producer” which lets people to schedule live videos, share their screen and use the live Q&A feature to let people ask and vote on questions.

Facebook
“Live Producer” lets people to schedule live videos, share their screen and use the live Q&A feature to let people ask and vote on questions. Pixabay

You can turn on automatic captions for live videos in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Workplace will also automatically translate videos in one of these languages into the other five, so employees around the world can follow along, Facebook announced.

Also Read: Snapchat Brings ‘Lensathon’ to India

Facebook said it is also bringing some of the Portal video-calling device’s interesting features such as Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered Smart Camera and Smart Sound to Workplace Live on Portal so that users can have professional-level broadcasting wherever they are.

The social networking giant also announced that Oculus for Business, an enterprise solution designed to streamline and expand virtual reality in the workplace, is now generally available.

Oculus for Business is built on Workplace, leveraging its security infrastructure and privacy practices. (IANS)