News briefs (July 16, 2001)

Calgary — Contrary to popular wisdom about happy workers being more productive, new research from the University of Alberta suggests sad workers are actually far more productive. The authors of the study suggest it’s because sad people concentrate on their work in order to distract themselves from negative thoughts. The authors don’t suggest bosses try to make workers unhappy, rather employers should use the possibility of employees feeling better through their work as a motivational force.

Rochester, Wis. — Increasing expenses for travel and a slowing economy will likely force companies to review travel policies by later this year. Travel expenses for Canadian businesses in 2001 are expected to be about seven per cent higher than last year. Travel experts Runzheimer say companies will end up cutting back on unnecessary trips and put employees in cheaper hotel rooms. Those changes are likely to reduce lodging expenses for 2002 by 10 per cent. Meanwhile, American Express Canada Inc. is also predicting changes to the costs of corporate travel by booking more trips over the Internet. Currently only about five per cent of customers book online, but by 2003 that number is predicted to rise to 20 to 30 per cent, cutting paper work and thereby costs.

Ottawa — Unfazed by a slowing economy and much-discussed high-tech meltdown, technology workers in Canada are still confident about their futures. So much so that a recently completed year-long study revealed 20 per cent are looking for a better job. The reason? High-tech workers are in an enviable position since an estimated 70,000 to 90,000 technology jobs remain open in Canada. Those that were looking for another place to work cited poor leadership, a lack of opportunity for growth and unsatisfactory compensation as reasons.

Ottawa — Documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen reveal the transition board overseeing municipal amalgamation in Ottawa spent more than $560,000 on head hunters to search across the country to fill 39 executive positions but ended up filling 35 of the positions with people already working for one of the local governments. In total, the City is expected to spend about $21 million on consultants to help it through the amalgamation. One city councillor complained the money that was spent on consultants to build a completely new model rather than build on the old regional model already in place.

Toronto — The Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities has proposed new guidelines for electronic communication between plan administrators and members. For example, the transfer of documents should not be denied legal status solely because it is in electronic form, and a member should not be required to accept a document in electronic form unless consent is given. Information technology should lower administrative costs and improve service to members but CAPSA wants to ensure plan members rights and interests are protected. The recommendations are available online at (click on “what’s new”).

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