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Sleepy Monday Is Making You Cranky, Lazy and Possibly Dangerous

If you’re feeing drowsy at work today, you’re not alone.

Millions of US workers are dragging on “Sleepy Monday,” the first work day after setting clocks ahead an hour yesterday morning (March 12) for daylight savings time. According to Christopher Barnes, a University of Washington business professor who coined the term, we’re less productive and more irritable and sluggish on Sleepy Mondays.

While the long-term consequences of not getting enough sleep are well known to researchers, Barnes has tried to find out what happens when we don’t get enough sleep on any particular night. While he didn’t set out to study the effects of daylight savings, he found the Monday after we set our clocks forward is the one time of the year when most Americans consistently don’t get enough sleep. Here’s what he found:

  • Accidents climb. By examining two decades worth of mine safety data, Barnes found that accidents climbed 5.7% on Sleepy Monday.
  • Cyber loafing rises. To see if people were goofing off while online at work, Barnes and his colleagues looked at internet search habits on six Sleepy Mondays, and compared them to the Mondays immediately before and after...

A Behavioral Economist Tries to Fix Email

Can anything be done to make people happier with their jobs? What can prevent people from overeating? Will people like beer with balsamic vinegar in it just because they’ve been told it contains a “secret ingredient”?

These are some of the questions that Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University, has studied in his research over the years, which spans in scope from the weighty to the quotidian. He has attempted to puzzle out the intricacies of human motivation and decision making, and two threads that come up often in his research are why people so often make choices that leave them worse off, and how tweaking small things might ward off needless, irrational suffering.

So when he realized that reading and sending emails was consuming an ever-expanding portion of his time—Ariely regularly receives hundreds of emails a day, excluding spam—he wondered if there were something he and others could be doing differently in managing their online correspondence. What small behavioral tricks could he deploy to make the whole ordeal less stressful? 

“Everybody recognizes how much we are destroying productivity with the current [way we] email,” Ariely told me. The consulting firm McKinsey estimates that knowledge...

People Who Speak Multiple Languages Make the Best Employees For One Big Reason

Speaking a different language—whether it’s your grandparents’ tongue or high-school Spanish—fundamentally changes the structure of your brain. Put a bunch of these malleable minds together in a company, and you create the potential for some truly original thinking.

We already know that businesses thrive on the diversity of ideas created by a multicultural workforce. Multicultural awareness is an essential soft skill in work as well as life, and it goes beyond office culture to economic benefits: According to a recent survey by the Economist, two-thirds of 572 international company executives say that their teams’ multicultural nature increases their organization’s innovation.

But the languages these diverse teams speak might be just as significant as their cultural offerings. According to one school of thought called linguistic determinism, the structure of a language we speak influences the way we see the world around us. This would imply that people from different language backgrounds think, behave, and communicate in different ways. (For an example of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in practice, we can turn to the recent film Arrival, which explores how an alien species’ language altered the speakers’ perception of time—and therefore the universe.) In this sense, speakers of...

Digging Out of the Digital Stone Age

About 75 percent of the federal IT budget goes to maintaining outdated legacy computer systems, according to GAO. Some are over 50 years old, yet critical—such as the main IRS tax data base and the nuclear missile launch system.

The Government Accountability Office study went on to note: “Agencies reported 3,427 IT staff employed just to maintain legacy-programming languages, such as COBOL (1,085) and Fortran (613).” In addition, the Office of Management and Budget recently observed that “43 percent of federal IT projects are reported to be over budget or behind schedule.”

These problems are not rooted solely in the lack of money. OMB notes that the continued reliance on “waterfall” project management methods results in inflexible, multi-year specifications that are often outdated by the time an IT project is ready. In addition, there is a shortage of tech talent in government because it is hard to recruit, hire, and retain specialists.  Finally, OMB reports that there are multiple barriers for IT vendors to enter the federal marketplace vs. doing similar work in the commercial space.

These challenges are not new, but are not the norm. Technology trends in the commercial world vividly show that it can...

New Approaches for Fighting Fraud

The Fraud Reduction and Data Analytics Act, signed into law in June 2016, requires the Office of Management and Budget to set guidelines for agency identification and assessment of fraud risks and the design and implementation of controls to prevent them. These guidelines must incorporate the leading practices in the Government Accountability Office’s Framework for Managing Fraud Risks in Federal Programs. The act also requires OMB to lead interagency coordination among agencies to share and promote best practices in the law’s implementation.

Agencies are grappling with the practicalities of implementation of the new law. Given the variability in fraud risks, fraud risk management must take place at different levels within an organization. And because fraud risk assessments are relatively new, taking an incremental approach makes sense.

One way to approach the new mandate is for cabinet-level leadership to direct components to assess overall fraud risks and develop a prioritized list of programs based on the inherent risks they identify. For example, within the Veterans Affairs Department, the Veteran’s Health Administration’s fraud risks might rank higher in potential consequence than those identified by the Veterans Benefits Administration. If that turned out to be the case, the VA...

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