Data points

Published September 13, 2021
In this file photo, Afghan money changers count banknotes at the currency exchange Sarayee Shahzada market in Kabul. With the Taliban in control and foreign aid blocked, Afghanistan’s economy is likely to contract sharply as it faces a shortage of cash, the nation’s former central bank chief said last week.—AFP
In this file photo, Afghan money changers count banknotes at the currency exchange Sarayee Shahzada market in Kabul. With the Taliban in control and foreign aid blocked, Afghanistan’s economy is likely to contract sharply as it faces a shortage of cash, the nation’s former central bank chief said last week.—AFP

What you should do as a manager

Uncertainty breeds anxiety — and we are living through deeply uncertain times. And that’s taking a toll on our mental health, which, in turn, affects our performance at work. Managers have a key role to play in supporting their employees’ mental health. Nearly 42pc of employees report a decline in mental health since the pandemic began, according to recent research. Managers should: 1) be vulnerable; being honest about mental health struggles as a leader enables others to come forward. 2) Model healthy behaviours such as taking a walk or therapy. 3) Build a culture of connection through check-ins beyond the simple “how are you?” 4) Be flexible and inclusive and take a customized approach to address stressors. 5) Communicate and inform more than what you think is necessary. 6) Invest in training — prioritise proactive workplace health training. 7) Modify policies and practices; be as generous and flexible as possible around time off and flexible hours. 8) Track progress over time with something as simple as a pulse survey conducted regularly.

(Adapted from “8 Ways Managers Can Support Employees’ Mental Health,” by Kelly Greenwood and Natasha Krol, published on August 7, 2020, by the Harvard Business Review)

Islamabad’s illegal housing societies

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) estimates that there are 140 illegal housing societies within Islamabad alone. The authority has published a list of authorised societies, numbering 64, to inform the public and refrain them from investing in illicit societies. We studied this list of 64 “authorised” societies and found that only 22 have a no-objection certificate (NOC). This puts legal societies at 10pc of the total. According to a government report, CDA has not been able to launch any new residential sector in the past twenty years. The private sector was encouraged to enter the housing market to cater to rising housing demand in Islamabad that has an extensive regulatory regime. A sponsor must follow 19 major steps and a multitude of intermediate steps for the registration of a society. The average time taken by CDA for NOC approval is two-and-a-half years. The average time for development work after the approval of NOC is 12 years, extending to over two decades in most cases. These lengthy and cumbersome procedures push sponsors away from seeking permission.

(Adapted from “Illegal Housing Societies in Islamabad,” by Lubna Hassan, Aqeel Chaudhry and Hanzla Jalil, published on August 6, 2021, by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics)

YouTube cracks the code

YouTube has attracted 2bn users by offering a bottomless repository of music videos, pranks, vlogs and just about anything else you can imagine — all, crucially, for free. Yet over the past four years, it has done the unthinkable: it figured out how to get people to pay for its service. The company has signed up 50m subscribers across its suite of paid services, which include a music service and a premium video service. For a platform of its size, converting even a tiny percentage is a big deal. YouTube is one of the first online media businesses to crack the code. It’s certainly the biggest, eclipsing rivals across the music, film and TV industries. Even if YouTube is only getting people to pay $2 per head, it has built a subscription business that makes more than $1 billion a year.

(Adapted from “YouTube Is Free, But 50m Pay For It Anyway,” by Lucas Shaw,” by Lucas Shaw, published on September 6, 2021, by Bloomberg Opinion)

Opting for death

Over 100,000 Americans are currently hospitalised with Covid-19, and over 1,000 people are dying every day. These are people from all walks of life — rich and poor, white-collar and blue-collar, old and young. But according to an estimate from the Kaiser Family Foundation, over 98pc of them have one thing in common: despite the ready availability of vaccines, they chose not to get them. The fact that Covid-19 has become a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” has been well-covered, and it dominates communications from public health authorities. However, millions of Americans who are eligible for shots still choose not to get them, and the Food and Drug Administration approval of Pfizer’s vaccine doesn’t seem to have changed the rate of vaccinations nor people’s views on getting it. Some of those sitting out the shot are adamantly opposed to the vaccine while others claim to still be on the fence.

(Adapted from “By The Numbers: Who Is Refusing Covid Vaccinations And Why,” by Robert Hart, published on September 5, 2021, by Forbes)

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, September 13th, 2021

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