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Yoga Makes Brains Nimble, Too

Yoga has long been touted as a way to improve physical health and mental wellbeing, but it may also make you better at your job—or your retirement activities. Practicing hatha yoga three times a week improved older Americans’ information recall, mental flexibility and task-switching, according to a study released this week.

The 61 new yogis who participated in the study were between 55 and 79 years old, and attended yoga classes three times a week for eight weeks. Another group of people met for the same amount of time, but practiced general toning and stretching exercises. They saw no significant change in cognitive function over that time.

Hatha, the most common kind of yoga taught in the US, focused on poses called “asanas” and breathing techniques. Previous research has demonstrated that these movements and the focus on breathing can reduce stress and anxiety, and that lower stress may have contributed to the better results, according to the study.

If you’re looking to get into yoga to sharpen those mental skills, finding classes or videos to get you started isn’t difficult in the US—Americans spend $27 billion a year on yoga products and there were 20.4 ...

Unlocking the PerformanceStat Potential

Harvard University’s Bob Behn has been working on his latest book about the “Stat” movement for more than a decade. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of The PerformanceStat Potential and told him I would read it and share my impressions with others. In his inimitable response, he just asked that I spell “Behn” and “PerformanceStat” correctly.

Since 2001, Bob Behn has visited dozens of governmental organizations that are using the PerformanceStat model—some well and some poorly. His bold objective was to answer the research question of whether PerformanceStat really makes a difference in improving performance and how it works. In short, his answer is: It depends, and it’s complicated.

Behn has written a definitive book about the PerformanceStat phenomena, and apologizes that it is so long. The challenge, he says, was converting the tacit knowledge he developed during years of research into explicit written knowledge in a book for government executives.

PerformanceStat Defined

“PerformanceStat” is Behn’s shorthand for a concept developed 20 years ago by New York City deputy police commissioner Jack Maple as a crime reduction strategy, which Maple dubbed “CompStat.” This approach was so successful in reducing crime, it quickly spread to ...

Why Employers Favor Dads Asking for Flexibility

Introducing…the “fatherhood bonus.”

New research shows working dads receive an advantage over working moms when they request flexible hours to care for their kids. Christin L. Munsch, a Furman University sociology professor, coined the term in her new research paper presented at the American Sociological Association’s conference this week.

Dads were more likely than Moms to be granted a work from home request, and they also were deemed to be more likable, Munsch reports in Flexible Work, Flexible Penalties: The Effect of Gender, Childcare and Type of Request on the Flexibility Bias.

Some 69.7% of dads would be likely to be approved for their request, compared to 56.7% of moms. The figures are based on the evaluation of 646 US residents who read a transcript of a conversation between an HR person and a worker who was seeking schedule changes or work from home.

What’s the reason for this gender divide?  “People draw on cultural beliefs about gender to help define flexwork and evaluate flexworkers,” Munsch writes, continuing:

“Not only did I find evidence of a fatherhood bonus, I also found that men who made flexplace requests for childcare reasons were perceived as more respectable ...

The Thing Employers Look For When Hiring Recent Graduates

When I was 17, if you asked me how I planned on getting a job in the future, I think I would have said: Get into the right college. When I was 18, if you asked me the same question, I would have said: Get into the right classes. When I was 19: Get good grades.

But when employers recently named the most important elements in hiring a recent graduate, college reputation, GPA, and courses finished at the bottom of the list. At the top, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, were experiences outside of academics: Internships, jobs, volunteering, and extracurriculars.

Chronicle of Higher Ed
 

"When employers do hire from college, the evidence suggests that academic skills are not their primary concern," says Peter Cappelli, a Wharton professor and the author of a new paper on job skills. "Work experience is the crucial attribute that employers want even for students who have yet to work full-time."

Before you retreat to the comment section and scream at me for saying that school, classes, and grades don't matter, let me say: I don't think this should be interpreted as a sign that schools, classes, and grades don't matter ...

The Seven Signs That You Work Too Hard

Many people proudly describe themselves as workaholics, part of a modern culture where long hours and no free time are a sign of being successful and needed. But the term describes a real—and sometimes dangerous—addiction. Workaholism is defined by a recent paper as ‘‘being overly concerned about work, to be driven by strong and uncontrollable work motivation, and to spend so much energy and effort into work that it impairs private relationships, spare-time activities and/or health.”

Increasingly psychologists assess and sometimes recommend treating workaholism as an addiction in its own right. A new study in Norway published at PLOS One is the first truly representative look at how prevalent workaholism is in a country. Despite the perception of Scandinavian countries’ generous social safety net, which might lead one to expect better work-life balance, around 8.3% of the population are estimated to be workaholics. It remains to be seen how Norway stacks up against other countries when it comes to workaholism: There hasn’t been a comparative test done elsewhere.

Previous studies used much smaller or unrepresentative samples, and didn’t have a clear cut-off between workaholics and those who simply work a lot. This study uses ...