Recruit, Inspire & Retain

April 2005

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CELEBRATE TODAY! April Fools Day & Internat’l Fun at Work Day
bullet Want Staff to Have Fun at Work Today? — You Have to Hire Well & Trust Them
bullet Who’s Wearing Fun Meters?
bullet History of April Fool’s Day
bullet Cool Calls
bullet No April Fools – You Can Make Work Fun Like These Organizations Did
bullet How to Have Fun In Training — Preventing Death By Lecture
bullet Recognizing Employees — Say It With Fun
bullet Fun Days to Celebrate/Professional Development Conferences/Ways to Volunteer & Give
(Email Us For Ways to Celebrate the FUN Days to celebrate)


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Want Staff to Have Fun at Work Today? — You Have to Hire Well & Trust Them

If we have hired well and we trust our employees with the most valuable assets of the organization, then why not trust their judgement on how to use their full fun selves to achieve company objectives?

Some people fear that if they give permission for fun, employees will take advantage of the situation and shift the focus from work to fun. This is only a risk if we approach fun as a reward for working versus being part of the work. If our mental model is work hard and have fun later, we may create a dynamic that contributes to individuals feeling like they are on a low-fun diet. And diets, as we are all aware, often result in binging. When fun is in the work and results from the satisfaction of good work and good working relationships, then there is little risk of “when the cat’s away the mice will play”.

When the work is both worthwhile and fun, then valuable employees will want to stay; where there is a committed, energized, productive group of employees, others will want to join. The integration of fun with work creates a natural-attraction force that is irresistible to good people – it did for Prudential. “The secret to our success,” says Vice President Jody Doele, “is actually the secret to the success of any organization — hire the right people. I believe the right person has the right values, a sense of passion for their work, and a willingness to build a good work community. The goal, when you put together a group of people, is to create a team with a culture of trust, confidence, and vulnerability. You also have to create an environment in which they feel safe to make choices.”

“In our team, we have what we call a ‘safe to say’ environment,” adds Prudential OPX Team Leader Kimberley Christine (OPX was created to help create a new culture of process orientation, high trust in individuals, and the use of their talents). “That means that everyone feels confident they won’t be penalized for anything they say. In the old Prudential culture, saying the wrong thing could be detrimental to your career. In the new culture, we have the latitude to pursue our work with passion. We embrace mistakes as an opportunity to learn. But you have to be open and honest about mistakes or it doesn’t work.”

“I require 2 things from the people I hire,” Jody continues.
    1. They must believe they can effect change and make a difference; and
    2. They must want to grow personally.

“Our new culture is a huge undertaking,” says Susan Susrana, Associate Manager. “Our goal was to make a big undertaking bearable and not to become consumed by the process. We came together as a group doing things that fostered an environment of camaraderie, both in the workplace and after hours. We made it fun. Fun has to be like that, it just has to happen, it can’t be forced, it has to happen naturally. But it needs a positive, safe environment for it to blossom.”

“Fun is having passion for your work and linking up with your colleagues. It’s hard to have fun by yourself.” Susan continues, “The secret is to do something that you love and will enjoy doing. I really care who sits down the hall from me. Able people help to make a great environment and that’s when work is fun. Work is fun for me because I work with really talented people. I find a little piece of me in every person with whom I work; we are all idealists and realists at the same time. We have a lot of latitude.”

Rachael Elwork says, “Fun is energy; it’s the commitment to each other and the project; the belief in the work and the creation of work relationships that become friendships.”

“The secret to the success at OPX,” explains Sharon Wright, Diretor of Human Resources in Scranton, Pennsylvania, “was the fairly rigorous selection process of the team.” They looked for people who were:
* open
* willing to learn from others and their own mistakes
* shared a common attraction to this kind of work

“It was fun because it was safe, there wasn’t any competition amongst us to use the process to get ahead or take advantage of anyone, we were allowed to fail, and there was lots of humor and warmth.”

Excerpted from Fun Works: Creating Places Where People Love to Work
(Principle Nine: Hire Good People and Get Out of Their Way).

   Fun Works: Creating Places Where People Love to Work, by Leslie Yerkes
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Fun Meter


Marilyn Spague-Smith, Miracles & Magic: “We gave them as ‘Thank-You’ gifts to all the mayors who signed proclamations for World Laugh-in Day and their assistants who coordinated the signings. The mayor of High Point, NC liked the Fun Meters so much she asked us to get them for her to give to all of  the Council members to wear!”

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History of April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s Day is celebrated in the United States, England, France, Scotland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Germany and Norway.

The custom of shouting “April Fool!” was brought to the United States by English settlers in the early 1600’s.

One theory to its origin goes back to Noah, who is said to have mistakenly sent the dove out to find dry land after the flood began to recede on April 1st. Another has to do with the change in the Gregorian calendar, in which under the old calendar New Year’s Day was celebrated around time of the Vernal Equinox in late March. But, because this occasionally coincided with (or came close to) Easter, church officials back then moved New Year’s Day to April 1st. But, when the Gregorian calendar was officially adopted in 1582, New Years Day changed from April 1 to January 1. Some people forgot about the change, and continued to make their New Year visits on April 1. Others paid mock visits to friends and neighbors shouting “April Fool!” to those who took them seriously.

Another theory states that the Roman festival of “Cerealia” held around the beginning of April, started it. The story is that the goddess Ceres hears the echo of Prosperpina (her daughter) screaming as she’s carried off to the lower worlds by Pluto. Ceres then goes in search of her daughter’s voice. But Cere’s search is a fool’s errand for it is impossible to find an echo.

Yet another theory relates it to the Hindu festival of HoIi (or Hull)a spring fertility festival done with fire. This festival lasts for 5 days, including a continual outdoor bonfire and dancing. This brings people into an ecstatic mood. So how does April Fool’s fit in? On the LAST day of this festival (which happens to be March 31) people are sent on worthless errands to everyone’s amusement.

There are a lot of folk stories in which people are sent on witless missions (or impossible ones). The common thread is that most of this is done in the Spring and is related to love. And, as some scholars say, when it comes to love even the most reasonable people go crazy and conduct themselves in a silly manner when they fall in love. So, April’s Fool’s Day is often associated with romantic craziness and fooling around.

April Fools’ day is also called Huntingowk day or Gowkie day in Scotland, because an April Fool is called a gowk. In England it’s often referred to as “All Fools Day” or “April Noddy Day” because in England a fool is referred to as a ‘noddy.’ But, all of these names originate from the “Feast of Fools” which was a popular medieval festival during which social roles were reversed and rules were deliberately broken. The men would dress up as women, eat and gamble at the altar, burn old leather sandals in the censors and engage in other normally unthinkable activities.

And, no one knows why in France the hoax is an “April Fish” a Poisson d’avril. Today, in France, chocolate fish are sold in candy stores for April Fool’s Day. And, friends send one another anonymous postcards (with some silly dialogue) with fish pictures. Other people try to pin a paper fish on someone’s back without being caught. This is similiar to the US prank of pinning a paper sign on someone’s back saying “Kick me.”

In Mexico, April Fool’s Day is on December 28. According to their custom, it is very foolish to lend someone anything (especially money) on that day because it doesn’t have to be returned. Instead, the borrower sends the lender a box of candies with a note that he’s been fooled. In Germany and Norway, April Fool’s Day is celebrated twice: On April 1 and on April 31.

Success With Your April Fool’s Joke

The most common prank is of course to make someone run a “fool’s errand.” If not a complete errand, then an unnecessary action, such as checking for an open zipper or missing button. To be a good April Fool prankster, one must have a cool persona and good timing. A good prankster gets his victim as early as possible before he realizes what day it is. Tradition has it that if a prankster waits too late in the day to pull the prank then he is called the April Fool.

It is said that when people pull pranks on one another it is just another way of saying that they care.

However....please stop and think! Not everyone enjoys being embarrassed. It can often be viewed as expressing anger, hostility, resentment, bigotry, sexual harassment etc.

Only pull pranks you wouldn’t mind having done on yourself. This way everyone will enjoy the day. And, if it’s in doubt, then don’t do it. Because hurting someone’s feelings is no joke at all.


April Fools Phobias

Aphrilophobia — Fear of April Fool’s Day
Katagelophobia - Fear of ridicule or embarrassment
Neophobia - Fear of something new
Scopophobia - Fear of being stared at
Ereuthophobia - Fear of blushing
Mythophobia - Fear of making a false statement
Traumatophobia - Fear of being emotionally wounded or injured
PowerPoint screen show that features 40 humorous posters that are pre-set to work on “auto-pilot”. Makes a great “WELCOME” message or enhancement to your session break. Runs about 5 minutes, and is set to automatically recycle. You can add in your own slides. (a great place to slip in your objectives!) Get your PowerPoint screen show here!
Love those COLORFUL QUOTE POSTERS you see in TRAINING SYSTEMS' group training and conference bookstores? Email or call 800-469-3560 to find out how to get packs of the topics you need.

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ASAE Professional Development Newsletter published “Using PowerPoint as a Visual Aid Instead of as Your Facilitator Notes”, a review by TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC. President, Carolyn B. Thompson of 2 books on ways to use PowerPoint to enhance presentations. To get a copy, call 800-469-3560 or email


Net published “Interviewing — Less Talk”, by TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC. President, Carolyn B. Thompson, in their Crossroads section. You can find it at 


Julie Raque, Life/Business Development Coach, Professional Speaker & Author.TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC. has been editing her book & she emailed, “Can you believe that I actually have an agent? I can’t! I stopped and thought about it and realized that it’s been about a year since I hired you...and when we started working together, I never imagined you and I would be where we are one year later with book. And now I have an agent involved! Wow! Grace of God baby!

* Sue Rinkenberger, Fairview Havens, emailed Recruit, Inspire & Retain, “Thanks – continue to enjoy – appreciate – share information – working on ‘harmony’ ideas for within department and/or between departments and will be presenting in-service topics at Navy Pier in Chicago this Spring – would like to share this email address if you are willing. Thanks again.”

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No April Fools – You Can Make Work Fun Like These Organizations Did

It’s International Fun At Work Day, and when was the last time you danced in your hallways or wore a really ugly hat to the office? It's time to cut loose and celebrate at work — celebrate your employees, celebrate your customers, celebrate failures, celebrate nothing. In case your overworked eyes didn't catch that, we said put down the mouse, get up and do something silly.

"At companies that intentionally start bringing play in, the stress levels go way down. People get a much stronger sense of corporate loyalty," says Matt Weinstein, emperor of Playfair. "A company where employees are excited about coming to work and have a sense of passion about what they're doing--that company's going to have a huge competitive advantage. If I walk into a business, I'm interested in value and price. As well as what it feels like, doing business with your company."

Here are Matt's useful tips on making every day a great fun-at-work day:

red starThe Master-Card call center in St. Louis had a dress-up-your-supervisor day. "Everybody who had direct reports allowed themselves to be told whom to dress like by the people who reported to them. People were dressed like Elvis, biker chicks, nuns. Talk about stress release. And message from the top says it's OK to lighten up around here."

red starFind out what people's greatest failures are. Then bring in champagne, pop the cork and toast your failures. It's all part of the same culture of trust. It says `Hey, we're all gonna make mistakes. If some of us aren't making mistakes, they're not trying hard enough and not thinking out of the box.' Once you've got a corporate culture like that, the employees become proud of mistakes because they're a badge of innovation.

red starCelebrate nothing. The president of one shipping company declared that everyone leave their desk to dance in the hallway at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day. People can't act creatively if they're doing things they've done over and over again. You have to do something different so people see each other with different eyes and just wake up.

red starTake an idea from the dentist who, instead of just handing out bonuses, took his employees to the mall for a shopping spree. It accomplishes so much more than rewarding people. It gives them a chance to bond and be a part of a community. And it shows you off to all the merchants as a company that's committed to having fun.

red star“Hey," you say, "I've been planning on throwing a soiree for my employees." But did you ask for their input on the festivities? Learn about your people and what they do for fun outside of work. Bring them into the process. Play "Happy Birthday" on the telephone keypad. (For the curious, it's "112163/112196/11#9632/969363.")

When people say `It's just business,' what does that mean? People are living lives. It's not just business. It's being alive with each other.

Adapted from Entrepreneur magazine, 3/00.

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Managing to Have Fun, by Matt Weinstein

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How to Have Fun In Training — Preventing Death By Lecture

We know from research that lecture is death to learning. But it is STILL the most frequently used method of delivering information. Why?:
bullet - triangleIt’s easier and more efficient for the trainer.
bullet - triangleIt has been modeled for us over and over again by our families, schools, churches, and culture.
bullet - triangleIt’s more organized – from the talker’s point of view.
bullet - triangleIt means less preparation time for the trainer.
bullet - triangleIt allows the one talking to be in control of the training.
bullet - triangleWe think it’s what’s expected by the learners.
bullet - triangleWe think it saves times when covering a large amount of information.
bullet - triangleWe think sometimes it’s the only way to get the information across.

And here’s one more reason contributed by corporate trainer and president of Workshops by Thiagi. Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan: “On Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, right there above the needs for food, shelter, and sex, is the need to lecture!”

Author Sharon Bowman says, “I’m not suggesting that you throw out all your lecture material. Sometimes lecture is truly the best learning strategy to use. BUT, most people only remember about 20% of what they hear. So if you want them to remember more than that, you will involve them in the lecture.”


(Time: 3-5 minutes)

Did you know that, when questioning techniques are included in a lecture, the retention of information skyrockets?

This doesn’t mean that you ask: “Are there any questions?” and then, when no one says anything, you continue your presentation.

It means that you use a number of different ways to get ALL your learners
involved in creating and answering questions.

One method is to stop talking and say:
“You are now going to test the person on your right to see how smart he or she is. On an index card or scratch paper, write down a question that pertains to the information you’ve just heard. You must know the answer to your own question. Pass the card to the person on your right (folks sitting at the end of a row can pass the card to someone in another row or all the way down to the other end of his/her own row). Take a minute to read the question you’ve been passed and to write your own answer to it. Then they pass the card back to its original owner. Check the answer and let your neighbor know if he or she got it right.”

Bonus Tip: Pass That Answer
Instead of writing a question, learners write an answer to a question and the person on the right guesses what the question is and writes it on the card. Or they write an answer to a question you give them and then they compare their answers. You ask a few volunteers to state their answers and then you tell them if they were correct.

Bonus Tip: Pass It Again
Thiagi uses another high-interest questioning technique.
After about 10 minutes of lecture:
Each learner writes a question or a fact just learned on an index card. Each passes her card to another person who then passes it again to someone else. The passing continues a few times until the questions are sufficiently mixed up. Then Thiagi asks a few volunteers to read the questions they have aloud and either he or the learners answer the questions.

Allow about 5 minutes for verbal processing if you do this. You can take as many or as few questions as time allows.

Bonus Tips: Collect That Question
Instead of passing the questions, you collect the cards and, during a break, skim them for the most important questions, which you address after the break. Again allow about 5 minutes to answer the ones you’ve chosen and to take any comments from the group.

Excerpted from Preventing Death by Lecture

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Preventing Death by Lecture, by Sharon Bowman.
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Recognizing Employees — Say It With Fun

Recognition is one of the most powerful and underutilized management tools. Everyone wants recognition. Everyone needs it. And recognition increases the likelihood that the action recognized will be repeated. It helps to remember that adults are just grown-up kids. We don’t grow out of our need for acknowledgment, acceptance, fun, and play. We fool ourselves into thinking that to be an adult means to be serious when all it really means is to have aged. When we allow ourselves to have fun we unleash a source of power, energy, and enthusiasm that turns challenges into achievements.

Reinforce these achievements with zany, memorable acts of recognition and you have a winning combination — a workplace that motivates, empowers, and is downright fun.

At Arthur Andersen, one woman celebrated her 15 year anniversary with the firm and was treated as “Queen for a Day”. The director met her in the parking lot and helped carry her briefcase in as her co-workers rolled out the red carpet and treated her to a corporate massage.
Paycheck stubs can be used to send messages that recognize attendance or number of days without an accident, or to send holiday greetings.

Rewarding employees with an evening out on the town may not be the most prudent thing to do from a liability standpoint. Try supplying a driver, or even a limousine to make for a safe and more memorable night on the town for an employee or work team.

Southwest Airlines is so proud of its star employees that it lets the whole world know. Each year their most recognized employees win the Heroes of the Heart Award. The winners’ names appear on a banner painted across a red heart on the nose of an airplane for one year.
There is a direct link between fun at work and employee creativity, productivity, morale, satisfaction, and retention, as well as customer service and many other factors that determine business success.

Organizations that integrate fun into work have lower levels of absenteeism, greater job satisfaction, increased productivity, and less downtime:
^ In the 9 months that followed a workshop conducted by humorist C. W. Metcalf at Digital Equipment Corporation in Colorado Springs, 20 middle managers increased their productivity by 15% and reduced their sick days by ½.

^ Employees from the Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver who viewed humorous training films and participated in workshops showed a 25% decrease in downtime and a 60% increase in job satisfaction.
HR Focus, February 1998
A West Coast restaurant wanted to create a graphic design for an upcoming advertising campaign. Instead of hiring a professional artist, they encouraged their own employees to submit drawings. What made this really fun was that all the entries had to be submitted using the crayons and “butcher paper” that they use as table covers. The entire staff had a wonderful time creating a drawing that best symbolized the atmosphere of the restaurant. The winning entry was not only used for advertising but also proudly framed and displayed in the restaurant for all to see.

Instead of giving plaques or certificates for jobs well done, the fun people at Optimal-Care, Inc., give humorous awards that relate specifically to the achievement being recognized. For example, one employee received a very large spider with “5,000” painted on its back to represent that she recorded the 5,000th “bug” or enhancement suggestion for the particular product.

Excerpted from 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work.

301 Ways to Have Fun at Work, by Dave Hemsath & Leslie Yerkes
Joy At Work, by Dennis Bakke
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Buy The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush: 10 Common Sense Lessons from the Commander-in-Chief from our online TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC. catalog or by E-mailing or calling 800-469-3560.

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Recruitment, inspiration, training, and retention ideasHave a recruitment, inspiration, training, or retention idea or question? Ask by clicking the question mark, and we’ll post your idea or question (and the answer) in Answers & Ideas on Recruiting, Inspiring, Training, & Retaining Great Employees at


Humor Month
National Stress Awareness Month

April 1-7 – Laugh Week
April 10-16 – Garden Week
April 18-24 – Organize Your Files Week (They had to give those of us who didn’t organize our home office last month a FULL WEEK to try filing.)
April 17-23 – Volunteer Week (Would someone volunteer to organize my files?!)
April 24-30 – Administrative Professionals Week, Karaoke Week & Reading is Fun Week

April 1 – April Fool’s Day & International Fun At Work Day (Pranks at work! All Day! ‘Cause you’re supposed to!)
April 2 – Reconciliation Day (Coincidence that this comes the day after April Fools?
I think not.)

April 3 – Find a Rainbow Day & Chocolate Mousse Day
April 6 – Caramel Popcorn Day & the day Post-it Notes were introduced 25 years ago
April 7 – Coffee Cake Day
April 12 – Hot Dog Day
April 14 – Pecan Day
April 16 – Eggs Benedict Day
April 20 – Lima Bean Respect Day & Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day (For workers on a Lima Bean farm, this is as close to perfect as it gets.)
April 22 – Earth Day & Jelly Bean Day
April 23 – Cherry Cheesecake Day & Passover
April 26 – Pretzel Day
April 27 – Administrative Professionals Day
April 30 – Oatmeal Cookie Day
(Notice how many food days this month? Celebrate them all and we’ll put on 10 pounds)

Getting Results from Evaluation and Assessment Technologies, 
April 5-6, 2005 — New York, NY
May 10-11, 2005 — Philadelphia, PA
May 17-18, 2005 — San Antonio, TX

April 7-8, 2005
SHRM Essentials of Human Resource Management Seminar, Washington, DC, 

April 8-10, 2005
20th International Humor Conference, Saratoga Springs Convention Center, NY,

April 11-13, 2005
28th Annual Conference & Exposition of the SHRM Global Forum, Chicago, IL, 

April 11-13, 2005
HR Generalist Certificate Program, Minneapolis, MN, 

April 18-20, 2005
HR Generalist Certificate Program, Las Vegas, NV,

April 20-22, 2005
36th Annual Conference & Exposition of the Employment Management Association, Dallas, TX,

April 25, 2005
HR Scorecard Seminar, Atlanta, GA, 

April 28-29
SHRM Essentials of Human Resource Management Seminar, Atlanta, GA,

May 1-4, 2005
Americas’ SAP Users Group Annual Conference & Vendor Fair, Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA, 

May 1-5, 2005
Diversity Train-the-Trainer Certificate Program, Washington, DC, http:/

May 2-4, 2005
HR Generalist Certificate Program, Philadelphia, PA,

May 8-11, 2005
Society for Technical Communications 52nd Annual Conference, Washington State Convention and Trade Center, Seattle, WA,

May 24, 2005
Best Year Yet Individual Success Program, Personal Planning Session, Chicago, IL, 

June 9-12, 2005
SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, San Diego, CA,

June 13-17, 2005
CCL: Leadership Development for Human Resource Professionals, Colorado Springs, CO,

June 19-22, 2005
SHRM Annual Conference & Expo, San Diego, CA,

June 20-24, 2005
eLearning Instructional Design Conference, Boston, MA,

July 5-8, 2005
5th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, Koahsiung, Taiwan,

July 31-August 4,2005
SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques Conference, Los Angeles, CA,

September 25-27, 2005 Employers of Excellence Conference 2005, Phoenix, AZ, 


Associations Unite in Tsunami Relief Effort
ASAE and The Center for Association Leadership will match all employee donations up to $25,000 to the charity of their choice from the list on  to help the tsunami victims.

Be a Pen-Pal to a Soldier
Go to the Manhattanville web site,, sign up to correspond with a soldier, and receive a red wristband stamped with MY SOLDIER (like the Lance Armstrong “LIVE STRONG” bands).

Provide Foster Care for Our Soldiers' Pets
Operation Noble Foster,, and Military Pets Foster Project,, match up soldiers' pets with families willing to provide foster care for them while the pets' owners are serving in the military. This prevents many soldiers from needing to give their pets to shelters or having them put to sleep. Visit the websites to sign up.

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Get FREE access to great recruiting, inspiring, training & retaining tips, ideas & resources where you can::
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