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If you were born in 1900, you were expected to live a mere 50 years. Today, the average global life expectancy is 72.8 years. The good news is that people are living longer. The bad news is that many of the resources necessary to care for the aging population are dwindling. Of all the demographic trends in the world today, preparing for and managing the implications of the aging population might be the most important. 

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This is part four of a five-part blog series on the evolution of the textile industry over time.

The textile industry is one of the largest economic markets in the world, generating $450 billion and employing over 25 million people across the globe.   It’s estimated that over 120 billion pounds of textiles are made each year, a number that is ever-increasing because of constant high consumer demand.  Specifically, cotton consumption rates feature all-time highs, with an annual demand of over 120 million tons.

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There has been an increase in research on how studying and living abroad can affect one's performance at work. In a world more connected than ever before, employers are looking for applicants who can think critically and adapt to an evolving business environment. Experience abroad can help offer unique talking points during an interview, and it might offer the competitive edge that lands the job.

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Last week Amazon announced a reduced work week plan where employees will only work 30 hours a week, in an effort to improve productivity, employee happiness, and recruitment. The plan follows a recent trend among some businesses to make working hours more flexible, or even reduce the amount of time spent in the office. The idea behind the trend is that reduced hours will not have a significant impact on productivity, as studies have shown that work performance decreases as the number of hours spent working increases. With Amazon’s announcement, the reduced working schedule is moving from small companies and startups to the mainstream.

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Is work the same now, in 2016, as it was back in 2015? For the most part yes, but there are some changes to work that have already happened in 2016 and some that are still bound to occur. It is the freelance work world that is setting the trends for how work will continue to change during 2016. Some of the workplace trends that are expected to have the farthest-reaching effects in 2016 include: remote-first businesses, independent consultants, shift in media, work-life balance, leadership expectations, and consumer-grade design.

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In a recent Entrepreneur article, Jane Porter discusses the psychology of the average workday, giving tips on how to get more out of each day. In today’s blog, we will look some of the suggestions given in the article, as well as take a broader look to see how a normal workday might differ in several countries. One of the main takeaways from the article is that workers should look at the workday as several blocks of time, instead of one single eight-hour period to accomplish their tasks. Splitting the day into sections takes advantage of what psychology tells us about our brains and behaviors, and may help workers accomplish more of the goals they set out for themselves.

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At the end of the past decade, many millennials began to move in with their parents in order to save money throughout the recession and declining job market. Despite the belief that these young adults would move back to living independently once the economy improved, there are even more of them living at home than there were before according to a study by Pew Research Center. The national unemployment rate for young adults declined to 7.7% in the first four months of this year, compared to the 2010 figure of 12.4%. Despite this, the center analyzed recent census data and was able to find that 18 to 34-year-olds are less likely to be living apart from family members than they were even at the worst point of the recession, which was the worst economic downturn since the 1930’s.

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The mass globalization being realized in business today is drastically changing the way people communicate within a company. Obvious trends in the workforce recently are the acceleration of work processes, globally dispersed teams, and increasing outsourcing of knowledge-intensive work. The boost of globalization represents both an opportunity and significant risk for companies. Now, companies are able to pull in new employees from larger, more competitive international pools, but it is a known struggle for employers to retain these highly qualified workers for the long term. In order for businesses to stay competitive today, thinking and planning for the workplace of the future is imperative. Only companies that are able to communicate successfully will be able to stay competitive in an international market and keep themselves in the running as a potential employer.

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As people in developed countries live longer lives, companies with pension plans are facing growing pension shortfalls. The Society of Actuaries estimates that the average 65 year old man today will live two years longer than it estimated 15 years ago. This has led to large differences in the amount budgeted for pension plans and the amount actually being spent. The increased longevity of these employees’ lives has caused many major companies’ balance sheets to be changed dramatically. Most United States companies use defined-contribution plans such as 401(K)s, and these leave workers on their own after retirement. These companies will not have to worry about increased life longevity when it comes to these payments.

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As technology continues to grow and change throughout the world, the way consumers pay for their products is also changing. Consumers are using credit and debit cards at an increasing rate compared to cash, even with small purchases less than $5. According to a survey, one third of American consumers said that they usually pay for purchases under $5 with a card rather than cash. Even more surprising, 51% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 reported that they prefer to use a card when dealing with transactions under $5.

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The second richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, made a proposal this week that might excite employees around the globe. Slim, the Mexican telecom magnate, told those at a business conference that he thinks employers should move to shorter work weeks that promote increased leisure time for employees without losing productivity. His proposal had employees reporting to work only three days a week, giving workers four day weekends year-round. He believes that the shorter weeks would help to boost employee morale and increase leisure activities, which in turn would have a positive effect on the economy.

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With organizations and supply chains becoming more and more global, international travel for business professionals is increasing. The perks are growing your resume and seeing the world, but traveling across time zones on a regular basis tends to throw a person’s body out of whack. There have been many studies as to how one can minimize these effects, and the studies show the importance of getting on a precise schedule while traveling.

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Employee resource groups (ERGs) are very popular with companies in the United States, but it is becoming increasingly important for companies all over the world to adopt this workplace habit. Employee resource groups are groups of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics or life experiences. Global companies need to hone in on this, and take full advantage of what ERGs can do for a business.

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The British bank HSBC recently came out with a study that looked at the best countries for expatriates, people residing in another country, to live in based on economic opportunities and quality of life. The study came out with some surprising results. Amongst the best countries for expats to live in include small rich countries, and amongst the worst are Western European countries. Although some of the countries have better qualities of life, many of these countries are not welcoming to foreigners.

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A topic becoming more and more popular in the business realm today is the differences of Generation Y, otherwise referred to as Millennials, and the rest of the workforce. The needs, wants, and leadership styles of Generation Y are drastically different from earlier generations; this is causing a great shift in the way businesses operate around the world. Generation Y is the generation born between the 1980’s and early 2000’s. Millenials are currently working in the business world and will continue entering for years to come. It is vital for companies everywhere to learn and adapt in order to retain Generation Y employees.

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In this age of globalization and economic integration, international companies face many complex issues. One of these issues has arisen rather quickly this past decade and will affect many businesses in the years to come. Companies around the world now face the problem of a global shift in the supply and demand of talent. Due to an aging population, global employers face the challenge of recruiting from a shrinking workforce. More specifically, as the skills employers require become more complex, labor shortages are probable in many mature markets such as the United States, Italy, Canada, and Germany. Already, an estimated 31% of employers worldwide find it difficult to fill positions because of talent shortages in their markets. So what does this mean for the future of business?

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As we just celebrated the 4th of July, instead of honoring the mark of this nation’s freedom, there is more talk about the holiday falling on a Wednesday. This is the time families travel miles to spend the weekend together and enjoy fireworks and cookouts. Employees see this as an opportunity for a potential long weekend. Tuesday becomes the new Friday and they become less productive and more unfocused. Employers on the other hand cannot afford to lose such a critical day in the week.