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Stressed out and miserable at work? You have lots of company

A recent survey of the global workforce shows we’re all working harder than ever, with nothing but exhaustion to show for it

THE LATEST INSTALLMENT of Gallup’s annual State of the Global Workplace report is out, and it paints a pretty grim picture about the enthusiasm and outlook average worker, with most saying they “don’t find their work meaningful, don’t think their lives are going well or don’t feel hopeful about their future,” the study found.

In Canada and the U.S., only 33 per cent of employees say they are engaged at work; half of all workers regularly experience “a lot” of stress at work and only 10 per cent say they were treated with respect at work ― although 71 per cent say there’s a healthy job market for those looking to make a change. But these are not, on the whole, great numbers, and experts are urging business leaders to look inward, lest these trends get out of hand.

“The last two years have been stressful as people around the world dealt with social isolation, economic shocks, education disruptions and serious health problems, including long-term illness and death,” writes Gallup’s Ryan Pendell. “If leaders aren’t paying attention to their employees’ wellbeing, they’re likely to be blindsided by top performer burnout and high quit rates.”

Looking beyond the immediate crisis of the pandemic for explanations, analysts see more deep-rooted issues with workplace culture that could be to blame. Studies have found that work has “intensified” considerably in recent years, but without a corresponding rise in either productivity or wages, which have each stagnated to one degree or another.

“While working harder doesn’t seem to be making us richer, it does appear to be making us sicker,” writes FT’s Sarah O’Connor. If nothing else, for O’Connor it makes a strong case for exploring shorter, more productive work weeks, such as the four-day pilot underway in the U.K. “If we can’t work less hard,” she writes, “perhaps we should just work less.” Kieran Delamont


Gulp! Is the sugar rush over for the delivery economy?

It rose to great heights during the pandemic, but the delivery market looks to be falling back hard

DESPITE BEING A literal lifeline to many during the pandemic (and although lockdowns were great for business), a confluence of economic factors is pushing the delivery app economy to its limits, with layoffs and closures likely in the coming months.

Delivery apps like UberEats and DoorDash, as well as transportation services like Lyft and Uber, have been ubiquitous over the past five years or so, and even more so during the pandemic. Steady inflows of venture capital into these companies has, generally speaking, subsidized the industry enough to keep costs low and create value for customers who have taken to on-demand delivery.

But with interest rates going up, and profits still proving elusive for many of these services and their underlying business models, that money is drying up, share prices are falling across the industry and jobs are being axed.

“Investors are beginning to get nervous about piling money into lossmaking companies. Shares in listed companies such as Uber, Lyft and Deliveroo have dropped sharply,” reads a report in FT, noting that executives at these companies are now having to figure out how to quickly make themselves profitable. “Making money is likely to mean paying workers less or charging customers more. This is a bad time to try either.”

But while many will say the apps were a lifeline during lockdown, the restaurant industry might find cause to celebrate. Many of the apps they came to rely on also demanded high fees ― as high as 40 per cent ― and many were beginning to question whether the increased reach was worth the cost.

“Beyond the fees, many restaurants said they felt that delivery apps weren’t good partners ― they found it difficult, for example, to reach delivery services to fix problems,” said Nathaniel Popper of the NYT. “There was a hope that delivery apps would generate customers and sales that restaurants wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. But it looks like delivery apps pull people away from eating in or ordering directly.” Kieran Delamont


Embrace the change: How leaders can thrive in a hybrid work environment

Workplace flexibility now requires a new level of agility from managers to ensure teams can operate effectively in remote, in-person and hybrid work environments. Organizations that fail to develop these capabilities from within run the risk of losing productivity and higher workforce turnover, whereas those that embrace the change will gain a new competitive advantage.

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The long and winding road

Experts predict a full return to the office ― if it ever happens ― to be at least five years off

WHATEVER YOUR POSITION on return-to-office policies may be, the simple fact is that they are happening, and office districts in cities across the country are starting to see a bit more life and activity in them these days.

The Strategic Regional Research Alliance estimates that around 40 per cent of downtown employees are popping into the office at least once a week, an indication “that employers are finding ways to organize in office activity without a full mandated return.”

The biggest determining factor so far seems to be commuting ― a long commute being a much bigger deterrent these days compared to when gas was a buck-thirty. But this return has still been a slow one ― office occupancy is still only around 25 per cent of pre-Covid levels, and experts say a full return is at least five years off.

“The beginning of the full return to office is two years from now,” Mark Rose, CEO of Canadian real estate firm Avison Young said. “I would say the earliest that we’re gonna get everybody back in the office is five years.”

And managers aren’t about to start forcing people back, as the tide is firmly on the remote employee’s side right now ― helped, in part, by the fact that some of the leaders trying to orchestrate a return-to-office are not themselves returning to the office.

“Leadership is saying they want everybody back. Leadership is not necessarily coming back. That piece has to flip,” Rose said. “I can assure you that employers are going to post job openings that say apply if you plan on coming in five days a week. Just right now, employers don’t have the upper hand.” Kieran Delamont

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Yup, Microsoft Excel is having a moment

TikTok spreadsheet tutorials and comedy sketches have amassed millions of views and morphed into an entire genre of content

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THIS SENTENCE IS probably going to sound crazy: one of the hottest forms of content on the internet these days is Microsoft Excel content, birthing a new cadre of “Excel influencers” who are making a living teaching people how to use that old dinosaur piece of spreadsheet software.

It all started with TikTok, where users began uploading videos with tips and tricks for working with spreadsheet software. This struck a nerve with plugged in millennials and Gen Zers doing battle with the program almost daily; by May of this year, videos with the #excel hashtag have amassed more than 3 billion views.

There are even full-time influencers ― one such creator, Kat Norton (who posts under the moniker Miss Excel) has leveraged her following into a software training gig is raking in as much as six figures in revenue per day.

The question you might be asking now is, So why Excel, of all things? The endurance and ubiquity of the software, mainly. “Excel is the mortar that fits into the bricks of dedicated software but businesses often don’t take it seriously,” said David Lyford-Tilley, Excel specialist and ICAEW Technical Manager. “There’s a massive demand for information because it’s so widely used and there’s a general awareness among users that there are a million dials they never press.”

“I find the whole thing quite encouraging,” says accountant and traditional Excel trainer Simon Hurst, adding, “We’ve been subjected to the ‘Excel is dead’ narrative for so long this is quite refreshing.” Kieran Delamont


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