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Further your focus with business automation

If you would prefer to concentrate on fulfilling your brand’s mission, you need to look for the ways automation technology can save you time and money.

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Automation is making itself known more and more across various industries and area of business. From finance to marketing, automated tasks offer a number of advantages to anyone running a business. By automating, you can let go of the worry and the time that many essential business tasks require. There are so many necessary things to do to keep your business running, but they often feel like they’re just distracting you from the real work.

If you would prefer to concentrate on fulfilling your brand’s mission, you need to look for the ways automation technology can save you time and money.

AUTOMATION CAN MAKE HIRING EASIER

As you grow your business, you need to start working with other people. You can’t do everything yourself, and you certainly can’t be an expert in everything. You might start off using contractors and freelancers, but eventually, you usually need to make some permanent hires. Recruitment can take up a lot of your time and money, even if you outsource the process. Fortunately, automation offers a way to make it quicker and easier. It can be used for various parts of the recruitment process, such as sifting through CVs to narrow them down and select likely candidates for interview.

IMAGE SOURCE: The Blue Diamond Gallery

TRACKING EMPLOYEE ACTIVITY WITH A.I.

Once you’ve hired people, tracking their work is often a necessity to check on how much people are working and even what they spend their time doing. Filling in and checking timesheets can be tedious for everyone, but there are better ways to do it. Automation technology offers the option of tracking computer activity. This type of automation makes it easier to collect data and to analyze it too. It can make it simpler to increase productivity and improve performance, plus it helps to maintain transparency too. Using a time tracking system can offer the benefit of reducing costs too, because a human no longer needs to do the job.

TAKING CARE OF REPETITIVE TASKS

Every business has various tasks that need to be completed again and again, but which don’t necessarily serve to advance the business. They include admin tasks and paperwork that are essential to keep things running and stay organized but don’t exactly help the business to grow. Automation can take care of many of these tasks to reduce or even eliminate the amount of work that needs to be done. It can also make doing some boring tasks more fun, as artificial intelligence systems often need to spend some time learning before they can do a job alone, and that requires teaching them.

MANAGING FINANCES BECOMES SIMPLER

You can’t run a successful business if you don’t watch your numbers. There are so many financial aspects to oversee, from invoicing to payroll, and accuracy is always key. Automation using Fintech software as a service can simplify it all, with various solutions for accounts payable and receivable, and much more. You can visit the website for DataServ for more on how automation could help you manage your finances better. Take care of everything from invoice processing to digitizing mail and even automating workflow with a set of tools from one provider. You can find a complete solution that helps with managing your business’s finances and beyond.

COMMUNICATING WITH CUSTOMERS USING CHATBOTS

Connecting with people online is now an essential part of running a business. In fact, many people would prefer to get in touch with a company online, rather than having to call them. Chat and messaging applications have become popular on websites, so it’s worth considering when it’s time to automate them. Chatbots can answer common questions, so there’s no need for there to be a human responding at all times. They can be useful for retail companies in particular and can also do things like giving customers discount codes or tips for using the website.

PRIORITIZING CUSTOMER INTERACTIONS

When dealing with customers, there’s often a need to consider which ones are more important. For example, when sales representatives are making calls, they might need to decide which customers they should call first or which are most valuable. This can take time and sometimes might just be done using guesswork. But automating this prioritization can make it much simpler and quicker. Your business can place its sales focus in the right places by identifying the customers that matter most without having to either guess or spend hours trying to work it out.

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AUTOMATING MARKETING

Marketing is a major part of any business because it’s how you start bringing in leads before you convert them to sales. Many hours can go into marketing campaigns to make them successful, but automation can make it less complicated and time-consuming. Putting automated actions into place and analyzing the success of campaigns helps to take the guesswork out of getting it right. Marketing software can provide automated notifications and alerts to help people stay more in touch with their campaigns and what’s working for them.

Systems that help with marketing management can provide tools for different types of marketing. Some are designed to help manage digital marketing campaigns, while others make more traditional forms of marketing easier to handle. Telemarketing and direct mail campaigns can both be automated in various ways using the right tools. For example, automation can be used to customize direct mail letters for just one simple way to make things easier.

If you feel like your business is wasting time on tasks that don’t help to advance your brand or even those that do, automation could make a huge difference.

Health & Wellness

Gender harassment and institutional betrayal in high school take toll on mental health

97% of women and 96% of men from a pool of 535 undergraduate college students had endured at least one instance of gender harassment during high school. Experiences of gender harassment, especially for those who encountered it repeatedly, were associated with clinically relevant levels of trauma-related symptoms in college.

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High school students who endure gender harassment in schools that don’t respond well enter college and adulthood with potential mental health challenges, according to a University of Oregon study.

The study, published last month in PLOS ONE, found that 97% of women and 96% of men from a pool of 535 undergraduate college students had endured at least one instance of gender harassment during high school.

Experiences of gender harassment, especially for those who encountered it repeatedly, were associated with clinically relevant levels of trauma-related symptoms in college.

“We found that the more gender harassment and institutional betrayal teens encounter in high school, the more mental, physical and emotional challenges they experience in college,” said lead author Monika N. Lind, a UO psychology doctoral student. “Our findings suggest that gender harassment and institutional betrayal may hurt young people, and educators and researchers should pay more attention to these issues.”

The study, the three-member UO team noted, served to launch academic research into the responses of high schools to gender harassment, beyond media reports of institutional betrayal by schools since the #MeToo movement began.

Gender harassment, a type of sexual harassment, is characterized by sexist remarks, sexually crude or offensive behavior and the enforcement of traditional gender roles.

Institutional betrayal, a label coined previously by the study’s co-author UO psychologist Jennifer Freyd, is the failure of an institution, such as a school, to protect people who depend on it. A high school mishandling a case of gender harassment reported by a student is an example of institutional betrayal.

“The more gender harassment and institutional betrayal teens encounter in high school, the more mental, physical and emotional challenges they experience in college,” said lead author Monika N. Lind.

Participants included 363 females, 168 males, three non-binary and one who did not report gender; they were initially not aware of the study’s focus.

They completed a 20-item gender harassment questionnaire about their high school experiences and a 12-item questionnaire about their schools’ actions or inactions. Trauma symptoms were assessed with a 40-item checklist that explores common posttraumatic symptoms such as headaches, memory problems, anxiety attacks, nightmares, sexual problems and insomnia.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Unsplash.com

An analysis that considered gender, race, age, gender harassment, institutional betrayal, and the interaction of gender harassment and institutional betrayal significantly predicted trauma-related symptoms, but, Lind said, a subtle surprise emerged.

“We expected to find an interaction effect showing that the relationship between gender harassment and trauma-related symptoms depends on institutional betrayal, such that people who experience high gender harassment have different levels of symptoms depending on how much institutional betrayal they experience,” she said. “Instead we found that gender harassment and institutional betrayal are independently related to trauma-related symptoms.”

That issue, Lind said, needs to be further explored. It’s possible, she said, that the pool of students wasn’t large enough or that the measures used were not robust enough. Another factor may be that the study focused more on institutional betrayal than impacts of institutional courage.

“This is like measuring mood and only letting respondents report negative to neutral mood – you’re missing a bunch of variability that might be captured if you extended the scale to go from negative to positive,” she said. “Expanding the scale to capture institutional courage might increase the likelihood of identifying a meaningful interaction.”

Experiences of gender harassment, especially for those who encountered it repeatedly, were associated with clinically relevant levels of trauma-related symptoms in college.

How schools might respond to the issues identified in the study should begin with listening to students, Lind said. Asking about problems and listening to responses is an example of institutional courage. Interventions that do not do so often fail.

“Schools should engage in self-study, including interviews, focus groups and anonymous surveys of students, and they should take students’ reports and suggestions seriously,” Lind said. “When you’re trying to intervene in adolescence, you’ll do better if you demonstrate respect for teens’ autonomy and social status.”

Researchers have not focused on such issues in high schools, where students are emerging into early adulthood from the physical, neurological and psychological changes occurring in adolescence, said Freyd, a pioneer in academic research on issues of sexual harassment, institutional betrayal and institutional courage.

“Until now, all of the education-focused institutional betrayal research has considered the experiences of undergraduate and graduate-level college students, as well as those of faculty members,” she said. “There also has been work on these issues in the military and workplaces, but we don’t know a lot about gender harassment or institutional betrayal in adolescence.”

UO doctoral student Alexis A. Adams-Clark, a member of Freyd’s lab, was the study’s third co-author.

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Health & Wellness

There are two sides to every story

In the Philippines, one in five people suffers from mental health problems. Between 17% and 20% of Filipino adults experience psychiatric disorders, while 10% to 15% of Filipino children suffer from mental health problems. But addressing mental health is not yet among the priorities in the country.

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It all happened one busy Monday, in between unfinished deadlines and piling up of workload. The conversation suddenly ended, and it left him dumfounded. He kept looking for answers why it happened. He questioned himself; reviewed all his replies. Everything seemed okay.

His name is Andy. He considers himself as an introvert. There may be times when he can be talkative, but “that is different; I am not face-to-face with the person.”

Sometimes, people call him a “player,” claiming that he just wants to hook them into his “game”.

What not everyone knows is that whenever he starts to be close to someone, he (un)consciously builds walls around him, preventing anyone to get through particularly when he feels there is an attempt to make a deeper connection.

Andy said his intentions are always good. But most of the time, “I am read wrong and taken negatively.”

And every time that kind of thing happens, it just contributes to the sound he has been hearing in his head.

Running away

Sometimes it takes on the form of fear… fear of the current situation or the unknown. There are times when it invades his dreams, waking him up in the middle of the night with either a bad headache or heavy breathing. It is usually mistaken as stress.

A glass of warm milk or chilled rosé, a dosage of paracetamol or Valium, counting backwards from 100 while listening to calming music – any of these usually help, but only temporary.

“I found out a few years back that I am dealing with emotional and psychological trauma. I never knew I had one,” Andy said.

A type of mental health condition, trauma is a response to a stressful event. This is usually triggered by a terrifying situation, either experiencing or witnessing it firsthand.

Edgewood Health Network Canada listed down some of the most common symptoms of psychological trauma, i.e.:

  1. Disruptive recollections of the trauma, including flashbacks
  2. Emotional and physical reactions in response to reminders
  3. Negative beliefs about oneself or others
  4. Inability to feel close to others
  5. Being easily startled
  6. Dissociation
  7. Emotional numbness
  8. Inability to remember aspects of, or all of the traumatic event
  9. Avoidance of anything that reminds one of the trauma
  10. Hypervigilance (Always being alert, scanning and assessing for threat)
  11. Difficulty concentrating and focusing on reality
  12. Inability to fall asleep or to remain asleep, frequent and frightening nightmares

“When I am interested with someone, to either date that person or befriend him, after a few days, all of a sudden I will shut down,” Andy said. “There are even times when I would literally run away towards the other direction.”

Studies show that trauma also causes anxiety. When there are frequent occurrence of situations related to what caused the trauma or constant exposure to trigger points – confusion and overwhelming emotional and psychological pain will set in – and these translate into anxiety.

In the Philippines, one in five people suffers from mental health problems. Between 17% and 20% of Filipino adults experience psychiatric disorders, while 10% to 15% of Filipino children suffer from mental health problems.

Dealing with trauma

“Sometimes it is better to be alone because you do not need to explain yourself or adjust to them,” Andy said.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there are three common ways to cope with trauma:

  1. Avoiding alcohol and other drugs
  2. Spending time with loved ones and trusted friends who are supportive
  3. Trying to maintain normal routines for meals, exercise and sleep

How long will it last? Unfortunately, there is no way to find out since it is not possible to expedite the healing process of trauma. But the intensity of emotional and psychological pain reduces with time.

“I create distractions whenever I feel I am placed inside a box,” Andy said. “Just recently, when I did something like that, the person suddenly disappeared. I was left hanging, I felt like I was all alone.”

Distractions are created by anyone to give themselves breathing space, a moment to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Knowing the other side of the story

Before dismissing someone who seems “different” in terms of how he/she deals with situations, it is better to look a little longer first.

Here are few ways you can help someone who has experienced trauma, as listed by HuffPost:

  1. Realize that trauma can resurface again and again
  2. Know that little gestures go a long way
  3. Reach out on social media
  4. Ask before you hug someone
  5. Do not blame the victim
  6. Help them relax
  7. Suggest a support group
  8. Give them space
  9. Educate yourself
  10. Do not force them to talk about it
  11. Be patient
  12. Accompany them to the scene of the “crime”
  13. Watch out for warning signs

Keep in mind that it is not your experience/story that you can freely make judgements on, else “attack” it after feeling sour.

Photo by Ian Espinosa from Unsplash.com

“Some five years ago everything fell apart with my life, in my career and health, my partner at that time chose to fool around and left me alone. It was shit. My friends told me that I was broken for four years,” Andy recalled.

That moment did not leave his mind until now. And it affected his trust issues with anything and everything.

A 2016 report by MIMS Today noted that in the Philippines, one in five people suffers from mental health problems. Between 17% and 20% of Filipino adults experience psychiatric disorders, while 10% to 15% of Filipino children suffer from mental health problems.

Unfortunately, it seems like addressing mental health is not yet among the priorities in the Philippines.

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Health & Wellness

LBG individuals use stimulants at higher rates than heterosexuals

Higher drug use among LGB individuals is likely a result of minority stress – that is, the fact that exposure to stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation results in health disparities. Structural stigma (e.g. employment or housing discrimination) drives psychological and physical health morbidities among LGB populations, and perceived stigma is associated with cocaine use.

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Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals report higher rates of medical, non-medical, and illegal stimulant use compared to heterosexuals, mirroring patterns seen in other substance use.

The study by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health researchers provides the most detailed picture to date on stimulant use by LGB subgroups and gender. Findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The researchers analyzed data from the 2015-2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to examine associations between sexual identity and past-year use of medical and non-medical stimulants (i.e., Adderall, Ritalin) and illegal stimulants (i.e. cocaine, crack, methamphetamine). They found that bisexual women’s illegal stimulant use in the past year was fivefold that of heterosexual women (7.8% vs. 1.5%), while gay men’s use was threefold that of heterosexual men (9.2% vs. 3.2%).

Non-medical use of prescription stimulants was higher among gay and bisexual men than heterosexual men (5.4% and 6.6% vs. 2.4%) and among gay/lesbian and bisexual women versus heterosexual women (3.3% and 6.8% vs. 1.6%). Past-year medical use of prescription stimulants was higher among gay men than heterosexual men (6.6% vs. 4.1%) and bisexual women than heterosexual women (7.9% vs. 4.9%). There were no differences between bisexual men and women compared to their gay/lesbian counterparts.

Potential consequences of stimulant include substance use disorder and overdose, particularly given increases in fentanyl contamination in illegally produced pills and cocaine and methamphetamine. As many as half of LGB individuals who reported nonmedical and illegal stimulant use also reported nonmedical prescription opioid use.

“This study highlights the need for future interventions to target stimulant use among LGB populations, with a particular focus on harm reduction approaches,” says first author Morgan Philbin, PhD, assistant professor of sociomedical sciences. “The findings have important implications across sexual identities, and demonstrate the need to disaggregate stimulant use by subgroup and gender, particularly related to polysubstance use.”

Higher drug use among LGB individuals is likely a result of minority stress – that is, the fact that exposure to stigma and discrimination based on sexual orientation results in health disparities. Structural stigma (e.g. employment or housing discrimination) drives psychological and physical health morbidities among LGB populations, and perceived stigma is associated with cocaine use.

Bisexuals can also experience “double discrimination” from heterosexuals and lesbian and gay communities, which the researchers say may account for the particularly high substance use among bisexual individuals.

The paper outlines several avenues to address stimulant use, including by educating healthcare providers who focus on LGB communities to screen for and discuss substance use, including stimulants. Communities and providers can also scale-up access to medication disposal and harm reduction services.

The researchers note that their dataset started assessing sexual identity among adults in 2015, so these relationships could not be examined in earlier years or among adolescents. The options for gender included only “male” or “female” and thus did not allow researchers to differentiate between transgender and cis-gender individuals. The dataset does not assess sexual behavior, so this study only captured associations based on individuals’ sexual identity.

Authors include Morgan M. Philbin, Emily R. Greene, Silvia S. Martins, and Pia M. Mauro of the Columbia Mailman School; and Natalie LaBossier of Boston University School of Medicine.

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Lifestyle & Culture

Why you should see redundancy as an opportunity

If you are concerned about the stability of your job, take a look at why you should see redundancy as an opportunity.

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If you are facing the prospect of losing your job, it can feel personal and the feelings of nervousness about where you will get your next paycheck will soon set in. While redundancy is a traumatic experience for most people, you shouldn’t assume that it will make your life change for the worse. Following your career path religiously, you may think that redundancy will put a halt to your promotion prospects. However, work through the obstacle of redundancy and you can show any potential new employer just how resilient you are.

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

If you are concerned about the stability of your job, take a look at why you should see redundancy as an opportunity.

Retraining

If you have recently been made redundant, you might be online every minute of every day looking for potential new roles. Don’t just scattergun a range of jobs and instead take a step back to upskill or retrain. If you have some savings in the bank, think about investing some of this cash on yourself by heading to a university like Suffolk Online to undertake an MBA. By honing your business administration skills, you can re-enter the job market as a more attractive candidate than your competitors. 

If you would rather reassess your career options, you could embark on a change in professional direction. Retraining is not out of the question. Take a look where there are job shortages and retrain as an electrician, an educator, or a plumber. This may be vastly different to your high flying managerial position, but it could give you more job satisfaction.

Travel

Redundancy can come as a shock and you may not be ready to re-enter the job market straight away. If you want to take a sabbatical and make good use of your time, think about traveling. Traveling overseas and going on a self-funded adventure can be massive amounts of fun and can give you the opportunity to see the world. While your career is important to you, so is your ability to enjoy the world around you. Travel, see new vistas, immerse yourself in new cultures, and figure out what it is that you really want to do. You may find yourself finding work as you travel and you may fall in love with a region that you later go on to settle in.

Start Your Own Business

If you want to leave the rat race, redundancy could give you the perfect opportunity to start your own business. You may have had the amoeba of an idea for a decade or more. Now may be the perfect time to morph this dream into a reality. Think about creating a business plan, sourcing funding, and launching your money making venture. You may want to use your contacts and network within the industry you already have experience with. Alternatively, you may want to change direction and follow a passion for ultimate job fulfilment.

You don’t have to assume that redundancy is the death knoll for your career. Follow this guide and view redundancy as the ultimate professional opportunity.

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Health & Wellness

Sexual minority men who smoke report worse mental health, more frequent substance use

LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke than their cisgender and heterosexual peers to cope with an anti-LGBTQ+ society, inadequate health care access and decades of targeted tobacco marketing. Those social stressors drive the health disparities they face, which are compounded by a lack of LGBTQ-affirming healthcare providers, research shows.

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Cigarette smoking is associated with frequent substance use and poor behavioral and physical health in sexual and gender minority populations, according to Rutgers researchers.

The study, published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, examined tobacco use by sexual minority men and transgender women to better understand the relationships between smoking, substance use and mental, psychosocial and general health.

The researchers, who are part of the Rutgers School of Public Health’s Center for Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies, surveyed 665 racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sexual minority men and transgender women, 70 percent of whom reported smoking cigarettes.

They found that smoking was associated with participants’ race/ethnicity, marijuana and alcohol use and mental health. Current smokers were more likely to be white and reported more days of marijuana use in the past month. The study also found that current smoking was associated with more severe anxiety symptoms and more frequent alcohol use.

“Evidence also tells us that smoking is associated with worse mental health and increased substance use, but we don’t know how these conditions are related to each other, exacerbating and mutually reinforcing their effects,” said Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health and the study’s senior author.

LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke than their cisgender and heterosexual peers to cope with an anti-LGBTQ+ society, inadequate health care access and decades of targeted tobacco marketing. Those social stressors drive the health disparities they face, which are compounded by a lack of LGBTQ-affirming healthcare providers, research shows.

“Our findings underscore the importance of holistic approaches to tobacco treatment that account for psychosocial drivers of substance use and that address the complex relationships between mental health and use of substances like alcohol, tobacco and marijuana,” said Caleb LoSchiavo, a doctoral student at the Rutgers School of Public Health and the study’s first author.

The study recommends further research examining the social determinants of disparities in substance use among marginalized populations and how interpersonal and systemic stressors contribute to poorer physical and mental health for minority populations.

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Technology

Why you should switch to IPTV

If you want to cut your bills in half, or more than in half, you need to switch to IPTV. For a fraction of the price of cable, you can access the same channels using your WiFi connection – the same as you would when watching on your computer.

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Your TV is an important part of your life – even if you wouldn’t like to admit it. More and more, we  use our TVs to watch movies, shows, news and even play video games.

IMAGE SOURCE: PEXELS.COM

During the COVID-19 pandemic, with movie theaters closed, we all snuggled down and watched Netflix to pass the time in quarantine. It’s pretty difficult to imagine our lives without TV. The downside, however, is that we spend an increasing amount on TV per month – with subscriptions, rentals and cable, it gets pretty pricey.

What Is IPTV?

IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television and is a service which uses the internet, rather than satellite or cable, to access TV. IPTV is streamed through the Internet, but don’t be fooled, it does not just include TV which is usually online like Amazon Prime. IPTV includes all TV channels which you would be accessing through cable or satellite – it is simply a different way of accessing the same things. IPTV is accessible through WiFi and can be used by anyone with a strong broadband connection.

Why Choose IPTV?

IPTV has basically no cons – it’s all pros. This service is fast, simple, and crucially, cost-effective.

  • The Pricing

If you want to cut your bills in half, or more than in half, you need to switch to IPTV. For a fraction of the price of cable, you can access the same channels using your WiFi connection – the same as you would when watching on your computer. The pricing of IPTV is unparalleled next to the traditional modes of TV watching. 

  • The Convenience and Reliability

With a good WiFi provider,  you are all set. It really is as simple as that. Instead of paying for high speed internet and cable television, you can combine the two. Plus, there will be barely any glitching. It is smooth, simple and highly convenient.

  • The Expansive Channel Selection Perfect For Families

Unlike with cable, IPTV has thousands of channels available so it is perfect for the whole family. If you want a great selection of kids shows, adult series and movies, this is the perfect package.

How To Switch To IPTV

If you want to make the switch to IPTV, you need to notify your cable provider once you find the right IPTV package for you. You can shop for IPTV packages on comparison sites and find the right selection for you.

In addition, it’s important to make sure you have the Best Device for IPTV which can stream it in high definition. Also, you need to ensure your WiFi is high speed, to avoid any buffering when your IPTV is installed!

The decision has never been easier – switch to IPTV today and find an amazing selection of channels for the lowest price ever.

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