Work As Safe Haven, Kitchen Surprises, Etc.

They probably wouldn’t mind a bit more life and a bit less work. Still, a Rasmussen Reports poll for the Hudson human-resources firm finds 76 percent of American workers are at least somewhat satisfied with their “work-life balance.” Surprisingly few of them (14 percent) said they face a conflict once a week or more between work and family—even though 39 percent reported toiling more than 40 hours per week. Could it be that some workers are grateful for the refuge their jobs offer from the wear and tear of domesticity? It seems telling in this regard that the married respondents were more likely than their unmarried counterparts to say they’re satisfied with their work-life balance (82 percent vs. 66 percent). Marrieds were also more likely than singles to report that they have fun at work (74 percent vs. 64 percent).

Given the degree to which casual attire has become the everyday norm in American offices, “Casual Friday” will soon have to mean showing up for work stark naked. In a BizRate Research poll of full-time office workers, conducted via the Shopzilla Web site, 43 percent of men said they hadn’t worn a tie in at least a year. Nearly as many women (39 percent) said they last wore nylons to the office that long ago. Fifty percent of women and 47 percent of men said they’d recently worn jeans to the office. No wonder everyone thinks you have a job interview if you show up in a suit.

As kids trudge back to school this fall, many adults must feel relieved they needn’t do the same. A day at work may not be sheer joy, but at least it doesn’t involve dissecting a frog or solving some trigonometrical mystery. (If your job does entail those things, you’re reading the wrong trade magazine right now.) The chart here, reflecting an Ipsos-Public Affairs poll on the matter, shows the hierarchy of grownups’ scholastic distaste. If you realize the numbers add up to 101 percent due to rounding, it probably means you’re among the 23 percent of respondents for whom math was the favorite subject.

“Change and decay in all around I see,” says the old Anglican hymn (and the even-older Book of Ruth). How nice, then, to find an instance in which there’s less decay and the change has been for the better. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there’s been a 15 percent decrease since 1994 in the incidence of tooth decay in permanent teeth among kids age 6-19. This improvement partly reflects a 64 percent increase in the number of kids treated with dental sealants, which protect the chewing surfaces of back teeth from decay. Still, 65 percent of those age 16-19 have had tooth decay or fillings in their permanent teeth. While one-quarter of adults age 60 and older have lost all their teeth, that represents a significant improvement since 1994, when one-third were toothless.

Maybe brands should employ Little Leaguers as their endorsers. Polling by Arnold Worldwide found just 10 percent of Americans feel athletes deserve the money they make. Worse still, 77 percent “believe that some athletes get away with crimes because they are rich and famous.” When the survey asked whether athletes in various sports are solid citizens, basketball players fared the worst, with just 26 percent of respondents saying they are ethical. Little League baseball players scored best, with 68 percent of respondents saying they’re ethical.

The best thing about home improvement, from a marketer’s perspective, is that spending begets more spending. A study by The NPD Group sheds light on this phenomenon as it arises when people remodel a kitchen. While one household in 10 remodeled their kitchens during the past 12 months, just one in 20 plan to do so in the next 12 months. This might seem to indicate a downturn in remodeling, but the research firm says the disparity stems from the fact that many such projects “are unscheduled and result from the unanticipated need for a new major kitchen appliance.” Having bought a new fridge, say, when the old one conks out, homeowners suddenly notice how dated the rest of the kitchen now looks. Kitchens being remodeled tend to be at least a dozen years old, “so they need lots of help to look new.” Indeed, homeowners who remodel a kitchen spend an average of $8,100 in the process.