Housing starts show yearly gains in June
Housing starts increased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 760,000 in June, up 6.9% from the revised May estimate of 711,000 and 23.6% above the June 2011 figure.
The June Residential Construction report from the Commerce Department showed a greater concentration of starts in the single-family sector, as compared with multi-family. Single-family housing starts in June were at a rate of 539,000, a 4.7% increase from the revised May figure of 515,000. The June rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 213,000.
On a regional basis, there was little change in the month-to-month starts in single-family housing starts. But yearly comparisons showed gains across the country, with the West coming out on top with a 38.3% spike. In the Midwest, single-family starts rose 15.7% in June 2012 compared with June 2011 and in the South, 14.2%. The Northeast showed a 19.4% increase.
Survey: Work email needs overhaul
Middle managers typically spend the equivalent of 2.5 workweeks annually on irrelevant email, but they don’t want their ability to use email limited or interrupted in any way, according to research findings released June 2012.
Instead, they say, workplace e-mail needs an overhaul, according to an online survey of 1,300 corporate executives, middle managers, supervisors and nonsupervising employees at Fortune 1,000 companies. The survey was conducted in February and March 2012 by The Grossman Group, a communications consultancy, and LCWA Research Group.
Slightly more than half of middle managers and supervisors and 48% of other employees want the flexibility to access work-related email after hours to stay in the loop, the survey found. Such access helps them prepare for the next business day, said 51% of middle managers, 45% of supervisors and 47% of other employees.
“We’ve seen companies around the world experimenting with email black-outs or time-outs,” said David Grossman, founder and CEO of The Grossman Group. “However, our research reveals that’s not the most effective approach,” he stated in a news release.
In fact, 84% of executives, 83% of middle managers and 77% of other employees say email is an effective, necessary communication tool. It is e-mail misbehavior that affects their level of engagement.
What middle managers want, according to the findings, is an organization-wide email etiquette policy that helps them stem the engulfing tide of irrelevant email. Sixty-one percent of executives, 55%of middle managers and 40% of nonsupervising employees said such policies reinforcing email etiquette rules would be very effective in their organizations.
“We know employees are overloaded by their inboxes,” said Grossman, author of the free book, The Definitive Guide to Taming the Email Monster: Eliminating Email and What You Can Do About It, (The Grossman Group, January 2012). “And it’s causing them stress. Yet our research shows it’s e-mail misbehavior that needs to be addressed.”
Some of the top issues respondents have with work-related emails:
• Too many back-and-forth replies — 34% of middle managers; 30% of nonsupervising employees.
• Usinge-mail when a meeting or phone call would be more appropriate — 32% of middle managers; 19% of nonsupervising employees.
• Using “reply all” — 29%, 26%.
• Poorly written or unclear emails — 26%, 24%.
• Copying others unnecessarily — 25%, 21%.
• Hiding behind email for difficult conversations — 17%, 15%.
• Irrelevant emails — 17%, 19%.
• Sharing email with unintended audiences, such as media and other co-workers — 15%, 10%.
• Wordiness — 15%, 12%.
• Containing no call to action — 9%, 7%.
• No parameters or rules for company email use — 7%, 6%.
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Organic Plant Health branches into bed bugs, finds distributor
Organic Plant Health, a Charlotte, N.C.-based manufacturer and distributor of eco-friendly fertilizers, soil conditioners and pest-control products, has signed an agreement with MSEP, a high-volume bottling, packaging and distributing company based in South Carolina. Organic Plant Health expects to begin bottling its new Eco-Cedar all-natural insect control product at the MSEP facilities by early August. Eco-Cedar’s new formula recently passed independent scientific testing that concluded its efficacy at controlling bed bugs on contact, according to the company.
Organic Plant Health brand products are currently sold in a variety of independent retail locations across North and South Carolina, including hardware stores, garden centers and plant nurseries. Key customers using Organic Plant Health products include environmentally conscious homeowners and commercial landscape companies; secondary markets served include real estate development companies, vineyards and agriculture.
Products produced and distributed by MSEP can be found at U.S. and international retailers, such as Lowe’s, Menards, and numerous automotive and hardware stores, according to Donna Seeman, VP sales and marketing.