Housing starts report delayed until Nov. 26
In the aftermath of October’s government shutdown, housing starts remain the only piece of data that has yet to be released after the initial delay.
Rather than postpone September’s housing starts data a couple weeks, the U.S. Census Bureau will release figures concurrently for September and October on Nov. 26 at 8:30 a.m.
In the most recent housing starts report, the bureau reported total housing starts for August at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 891,000, essentially flat compared to the previous month.
Tool King opens e-commerce system to outsiders
Lakewood, Colo.-based multichannel retailer Tool King made a successful transition for brick-and-mortar retailer to online super store. Now it’s exploring another frontier — e-commerce service provider.
“In crafting the technology we needed to expand our own company, we realized the infrastructure we created facilitates a powerful and unique online selling platform,” said Don Cohen, CEO of Tool King.
Tool King’s proprietary Facilitail E-Commerce Solution empowers small and large businesses to connect with new customers, both domestically and globally, the company says. It allows companies to sell direct to consumers without compromising wholesaler relationships. Distributors can sell direct on most major shopping sites via Tool King. After engaging with select vendors throughout 2013, Tool King is now opening its onboarding process to new potential vendors, Cohen said.
“We designed our distributor program to be win-win," Cohen said. "It’s easy to implement, and we don’t charge participation fees; we only earn a profit when sales are generated.”
Today, more than 350 active distributors offer more than 250,000 products through Tool King’s Facilitail program. Tool King also offers other services to clients, including fully managed, customized Web stores tailored to each individual company. Tool King has developed and launched more than 30 custom sites and says it plans to launch more.
Managing lower-back pain linked to higher productivity
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Back pain not only takes a toll on the quality of employees’ lives but affects workers’ productivity as well. Nearly one in four U.S. employees report experiencing lower-back pain, costing businesses $51,400 annually per 100 employees in lost productivity and medical treatments, a 2013 report by the nonprofit Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) found.
Lost work time and underperformance on the job (presenteeism) due to low-back pain costs employers $34,600 per 100 workers, according to IBI Chronic Disease Profile: Low Back Pain.
Employees with back pain are absent four more days per year than those without this ailment and have the equivalent of 4.4 more days of presenteeism annually. The cost of less work time and presenteeism makes up more than two-thirds of the total cost of low-back pain to employers, according to IBI, a workforce health and productivity research and measurement organization.
The components of the $34,600 price tag per 100 workers are as follows:
• Sick days: $13,100
• Presenteeism: $8,300
• Short-term disability: $7,100
• Long-term disability: $4,200
• Workers’ compensation: $1,900
“Employers stand to benefit from understanding the extent of back pain in their workforce and helping employees prevent, treat and manage their pain,” IBI President Tom Parry told SHRM Online.
People with low-back pain also have an average of nearly five related conditions that complicate care strategies. The conditions that contribute the most to lost productivity are:
• Depression (29% of cases)
• Chronic fatigue (41%)
• Obesity (8%)
Treating back pain
Low-back pain can be triggered by a variety of causes, including strain, injury, congenital conditions and serious medical problems, such as a ruptured disc. Most back pain can be treated nonsurgically with medication and physical therapy. Episodes of pain can be prevented by using proper techniques for sitting, working and exercising.
Good starting points for managing the full costs of low-back conditions include:
Occupational therapy: In a number of studies therapy has been shown to reduce the time spent on temporary disability from work.
Positive expectations: Employees who are optimistic about their recovery from acute back pain have shorter work absences than those with a pessimistic outlook.
Counseling: Back-pain sufferers may also benefit from counseling and mental-health interventions.
Most cases of low-back pain can be resolved in a relatively short time with low-cost workplace-based interventions such as job accommodation.
“Assuming that all interventions offered are high-quality, a cost-effective strategy is to use a stepped approach to treatment beginning with workplace-based interventions, followed by more structured medical and vocational rehabilitation,” said Parry.
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
© 2013, Society for Human Resource Management.
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