World briefs

U.K. urged to raise retirement age; Execs unconcerned about their poor communication skills, report finds; Noise levels linked to heart attacks; Europe discovers diversity business case

U.K. urged to raise retirement age
LONDON — The United Kingdom needs to increase spending on pensions and raise the retirement age to at least 67, the nation’s Pensions Commission recommends. With private plans in decline and inadequate public coverage, the aging nation is headed for trouble unless radical change takes place, a commission report states. The commission warns employers need incentives to continue offering pensions.

Execs unconcerned about their poor communication skills, report finds
LONDON — The majority of senior managers are poor communicators — and that’s fine with them, a global survey of more than 1,000 corporate communication professionals states. The fact that a company’s leadership holds the key to effective internal communication that builds trust and employee engagement is obvious… except, it seems, to a company’s leadership, states the report by Melcrum Publishing, which specializes in communications. Fifty-seven per cent of survey respondents rate their senior leaders as having poor verbal communication skills and only three in 10 think their leaders have good listening, dialogue and team-building skills. Alarmingly, 39 per cent of respondents said they don’t think their executive team believes involvement in internal communications is important to business performance.

Noise levels linked to heart attacks
BERLIN — Noisy office machines and industrial machinery are not only a threat to hearing, they may cause heart attacks, a German study says. In a study of 2,000 people in hospital for a heart attack and an equal number hospitalized for other reasons, researchers at Charite University Medical Centre in Berlin found heart attack victims had experienced far greater levels of noise at work or home than the comparison group. “If you have a higher and longer exposure to noise, either environmental or workplace noise, you are at a higher risk for a heart attack,” said researcher Stefan Willich. The study found that women are more affected by environmental noise (such as traffic, lawn mowers, yelling children), but aren’t affected by workplace noise. However, workplace noise increased men’s risk for heart attack by nearly one-third.

Europe discovers diversity business case
BRUSSELS — European firms are reporting positive business results from diversity initiatives. Eighty-three per cent of 800 companies that have diversity programs reported seeing business benefits, a European Commission survey found. A stronger pool of quality job applicants, better connections with customers and an improved ability to innovate were cited as business advantages.

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