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Practical advice for federal leaders on managing people, processes and projects.

Understanding the Rising Rate of Suicide

Suicide rates in the U.S. have increased nearly 30 percent in less than 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported June 7. These mind-numbing statistics were released the same week two very famous, successful and beloved people committed suicide – Kate Spade, a tremendous entrepreneur, trendsetter and fashion icon, and Anthony Bourdain, a distinguished chef and world traveler who took us on gastronomic journeys to all corners of the world through his TV shows.

Their tragic deaths, and others like them, have brought new awareness to the rapidly growing public health problem of suicide in the U.S. These deaths have renewed the country’s conversation about the scope of the problem. The sad truth is that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among all Americans, and among youth and young adults, suicide is the third leading cause of death.

I believe it’s time for us to pause and to ask the question why? Why are the suicide rates increasing so fast? And, are the increasing suicide rates linked to the seeming increase in demand for drugs such as marijuana, opioids and psychiatric medicine? As a public health researcher and epidemiologist who has studied...

Why Bosses Cut Some Employees Slack for Unethical Behavior

Based on the research of Yajun Zhang, Kai Chi Yam, Maryam Kouchaki and Junwei Zhang.

Imagine—or perhaps you don’t have to—that you’re at work and feeling very tired. You’re nearing the deadline on an important project, and you’ve stayed late at the office every day for weeks. Perhaps because you’re feeling so fatigued, when you submit an expense report for a recent lunch, you may round up just a smidge.

Now imagine you are the manager who catches this misdeed. How do you react? Does knowing the employee was exhausted influence your response?

Very possibly, according to new research from Maryam Kouchaki, assistant professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School. She and coauthors find that we judge employees’ ethical lapses less harshly when we perceive the wayward workers to be tired. And we are particularly soft on employees who are tired for reasons outside of their control: because they stayed up to care for a family member, for instance, or had an overwhelming workload.

In previous research, Kouchaki has shown that unethical behavior at work is more likely when employees are in a state of “ego depletion”—that is, when they...

Only 1 In 4 Women Who Have Been Sexually Harassed Tell Their Employers. Here’s Why They’re Afraid

On May 30, a grand jury indicted Harvey Weinstein on charges he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex on him. And new allegations and lawsuits against the movie producer continue to pile up.

Since the earliest reports of his abuse came out in October, scores of women in Hollywood have taken to social media and shared their own stories of sexual assault and harassment by Weinstein. And thanks to the #MeToo movement, women in a range of professions have also found their voices heard, helping topple dozens of other once-powerful men in entertainment, media, sports, business, politics and the judiciary.

But a question #MeToo has been asking since the beginning is how will this affect the lives of women far from the high-powered worlds of Hollywood and Washington. Is this making it any easier for a low or mid-wage worker in middle America to rid her workplace of a sexual harasser?

One important way of doing this is by making an official complaint to the employer. But while women will often complain to family or even on social media, most don’t tell their companies of the misconduct. In fact, barely 1 in 4 ever do...

The Biggest Problem The World's Workforce Faces Is a Classic Management Issue

The world is in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution, as the greater adoption of complex technology—particularly artificial intelligence and automation—shapes company processes and recalibrates workforces.

The greatest challenge companies face is rolling out new tech while also making sure workers are prepared for the seismic changes. This is especially the case for the managers in charge of setting realistic deadlines for implementation as well are training employees for new ways of working.

“Any change you make needs to be going with your people, not against them,” said Moya Greene, CEO of Royal Mail, which is one of the largest companies in Britain, with 140,000 employees. She spoke on a panel at the CogX Festival of All Things AI conference in London this week.

“If I look back at my career, what I think managers have always been is overconfident. They are overconfident about how long it will take them to implement a change. They are overconfident about how quickly individual human beings can adapt to change,” she added.

Finding employees skilled enough in implementing and working alongside new technology within existing company structures or when adopting new roles is hard enough. And Greene emphasized that...

Government Is Data Rich, But Information Poor

Agencies today have access to more data than ever before. In fact, data is a new strategic asset for organizations, like oil. But like oil, it isn’t useful until it is refined. That means turning it into information and insight.

“We are data rich and information poor,” says Shelley Metzenbaum, a former associate director for performance and personnel management at the Office of Management and Budget. If that is the case, the challenge for public leaders is to figure out how to lead their organizations into the future with data.

The IBM Center for The Business of Government recently held the fourth in a series of “Envision Government in 2040” sessions, focusing on the role of data and analytics in government (earlier sessions focused on the future of work in the public sector; the potential role of artificial intelligence,  and the role of citizens in government). This small group of experts in government data policy and trends discussed how the increased access to data and analytics could change how public managers deliver on their missions and lead their organizations.

Future Trends

Four trends in the use of data and analytics surfaced as part of the session:  

  • First, organizations have...