Recruit, Inspire & Retain

December 2008 / January 2009

Ideas for “Marketing” and Providing “Customer Service” to Current and Potential Employees

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bullet FUN Days to Celebrate (Call/Email for Ways to Celebrate the FUN Days to Celebrate!)
bullet RECRUIT:  Gas & Other Economic
Realities — Try Flexible Work Arrangements
bullet Modern Day Tribal Wisdom
bullet Who's Wearing Fun Meters?
bullet Cool Calls
bullet INSPIRE: Employees’ Financial Literacy Boosts Profits
bullet TRAIN: How to Design an “Unconference”
bullet RETAIN: Providing Opportunities for Good Works Retains Employees
bullet Professional Development Conferences
bullet Ways to Volunteer & Give
Question of the Month
Make this a really Happy New Year—
If you could magically change one thing about your organization’s culture, what would it be?
(Asked in October 2008 Associations Now)

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December is...
Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month
Choose A Summer Camp Month
National Write A Business Plan Month
National Tie Month

January is...
International Creativity Month
National Be On-Purpose Month
National Clean Up Your Computer Month
National Get Organized Month
National Hot Tea Month
National Mentoring Month
Oatmeal Month

December 22-29 – Chanukah (Hanukkah)
December 26-1/1 – Kwanzaa

January 1-7 – Celebration of Life Week
January 2-5 – Someday We’ll Laugh About This Week
January 5-9 – Home Office Safety and Security Week
January 8-14 – Universal Letter Writing Week
January 20-25 – National Activity Professional Week
January 21-25 – No Name Calling Week
January 26-30 – National Take Back Your Time Week

December 1 – World Aids Day
December 2 – Special Education Day
December 4 – Extraordinary Work Team Recognition Day
December 7 – National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day & National Cotton Candy Day
December 12 – Poinsettia Day
December 16 – National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day (Yeah!)
December 17 – Clean Air Day
December 21 – Hanukkah
December 25 – Christmas Day & A’Phabet Day or No “L” Day (Good thing there’s no-el in

December 26 – Boxing Day, National Candy Cane Day, & National Whiner’s Day (give them

December 28 – National Chocolate Day
December 31 – New Year’s Eve, Make Up Your Mind Day, & No Interruptions Day

January 1 – New Year’s Day
January 3 – National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day
January 4 – Trivia Day
January 8 – National English Toffee Day, & Show and Tell Day at Work
January 10 – United Nations Day
January 12 – National Clean Off Your Desk Day & Organize Your Home Day
                     (Sheesh! Both in one day?!)
singing dragonsJanuary 15 – Get to Know Your Customers Day
January 16 – Religious Freedom Day, Nothing Day & Appreciate A
                    Dragon Day (Great book to read: The Dragons Are
                    Singing Tonight,
by Jack Prelutsky)

January 17 – Customer Service Day
January 19 – Martin Luther King Day
January 20 – Camcorder Day
January 24 – Belly Laugh Day
January 25 – A Room of One’s Own Day
January 26 – Better Business Communication Day & Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day
                     (They even have a bubble wrap calendar now!)
January 27 – National Speak Up and Succeed Day
January 29 – Freethinkers Day
January 30 – Fun at Work Day

February 1-5 – International Networking Week, International Hoof Care (?!) Week, & International
                        Snow Sculpting Week
February 8-12 – International Coaching Week, Jell-O Week, Just Say No to Powerpoints Week, &
                          Love Makes the World Go Round; But, Laughter Keeps Us From Getting Dizzy
                         Week (We’ll remember our dear, departed Associate, Roz Trieber, who loved
                          to laugh!)
February 15-21 – Random Acts of Kindness Week
February 22-26 – Build A Better Trade Show Image Week
February 29-3/2 – Telecommuter Appreciation Week

February 1 – Freedom Day & G.I. Joe Day
February 2 – Groundhog Day (Great movie!)
February 4 – Liberace Day, USO Day, & World Cancer Day
February 5 – Wear Red Day, Bubble Gum Day, & World Nutella Day
February 7 – Super Bowl XLIV & Wave All Your Fingers At Your Neighbor’s Day (Especially if
                     you have tickets for the Super Bowl!)
February 8 – Laugh and Get Rich Day
February 9 – Read in the Bathtub Day
February 11 – White Shirt Day & Be Electrific Day (Just not in the bathtub!)
February 12 – Lincoln’s Birthday
February 13 – Madly in Love With Me Day, Employee Legal Awareness Day, & Get a Different
                       Name Day
February 14 – Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, Library Lovers Day, National Have a Heart
                        Day, World Marriage Day, & Ferris Wheel Day (What about Ferris Bueller Day?)
February 15 – National Gum Drop Day, & Presidents Day
February 16 – Mardi Gras, Paczki Day (Gorge on those donuts!), Washington’s Birthday
February 17 – Ash Wednesday & World Human Spirit Day
February 18 – Battery Day
February 19 – Chocolate Mint Day & Iwo Jima Day
February 20 – Clam Chowder Day
& Love Your Pet Day (— unless your pet’s a clam...)
February 22 – Single Tasking Day
February 24 – Inconvenience Yourself Day
February 25 – National Chili Day
February 26 – For Pete’s Sake Day & Levi Strauss Day
February 28 – International Sword Swallowers Day & National Tooth Fair Day

Email TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC. for ideas on how to celebrate any of these days.
Last month, a reader asked us to include the ideas right here in RECRUIT, INSPIRE & RETAIN. We thought it was a great idea, and when we expressed concern for the amount of time it would take, he asked if we could at least do a couple. So here’s two for this month!

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Gas & Other Economic Realities — Try Flexible Work Arrangements

There is no one-size-fits-all model for creative work solutions. Perhaps the best place to start creating policies and procedures is by researching best practices in the literature and among peers at other companies. Here are a few general guidelines:

Set clear expectations. Flexible arrangements call for extra clarity in setting deliverables, objectives and expectations and giving performance feedback. Communication frequency and quality are critical. When managers make their messages explicit, associates will know what is expected and can deliver accordingly.

Communicate honestly. Only 48% of the employers in the Hewitt study provided education and communication about their workplace flexibility programs to all employees. If flexible work arrangements are not managed and communicated well, resentment may arise when some workers are perceived as contributing less, whether that is a reality or not. If some business units or employees enjoy flexible arrangements while others do not, be very clear in communicating the needs of the business and its customers to explain why differences in treatment are necessary. Clear and honest communication also is crucial in recruitment. Companies sometimes make the huge mistake of asserting their support of flexible working arrangements without demonstrating it in action. When a company Web site or job announcements proudly proclaim flexibility, a new hire had better not be told he or she is expected to work 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, without exception.

Invest in technology. Companies that choose to embrace a telecommuter model need to provide wireless laptops and PDAs. Individual employees cannot be expected to purchase these items. Remember, investments in technologies may be small compared to the savings realized from a reduced real-estate footprint or less office equipment.

Consider generational differences. Different generations have different comfort levels using e-work technologies. Older workers may need extra encouragement to use instant messaging and text messaging, which can be second nature among younger workers. If 50-year-old managers are not comfortable communicating with direct reports who are in their 20s using the latest technologies, they may believe flexible arrangements are not working.

Measure success. According to the Hewitt study, 71% of the employers surveyed did not measure the effectiveness of flexible work programs, and only 14% measured results formally. It's important to keep asking which flexible practices contribute to retention and satisfaction and which do not. Further, where a substantial investment in technology has been made, continued measurement of the ROI and benefits of flexible arrangements will ensure these programs can be improved over time.

Giving people the flexibility to work when and where they want is a compelling value proposition. The next step in the evolution of flexible work is for e-work and other alternative work arrangements to replace corporate cubicles that are really just a step above the workhouses of the industrial revolution. Leading companies already are taking advantage of the vast benefits of flexible arrangements as modern society and the rise of the knowledge worker demand that talent managers change how people work and how performance is measured and rewarded.

Excerpted from Talent Management Magazine, September 2008

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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

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Modern Day Tribal Wisdom

Tribal wisdomThe tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

In modern education and expanded government, however, a whole range of far more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Threatening the horse with termination.
4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
5. Arranging to visit other countries to see how others ride dead horses.
6. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
7. Re-classifying the dead horse as "living-impaired."
8. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
9. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.
10. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.
11. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's
12. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower
      overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy
      than do some other horses.
13. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
14. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
15. As a last resort, sell it on Ebay.

**TOOL BOX****
"All stressed out and no one to choke" poster Here’s a FREE poster that everyone will LOVE Want more? Email or call 800-469-3560 to find out how to buy packs of posters!

Tools: Recruit Inspire Train Retain

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Fun Meter   * The Youth Foundation in Eagle-Vail CO

* Sutter Health


* The Joliet Chamber newsletter featured TRAINING SYSTEMS, their Member Spotlight section this month.

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Employees’ Financial Literacy Boosts Profits

Providing employees the tools to become financially literate about the basics — knowing how to manage personal savings, understand credit, and create a spending plan gives employees confidence, helps improve productivity — both affecting the organization’s bottom line.

"It’s also the right thing to do as stewards of employees' well-being." said E. Thomas Garmen, president of the Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation (PFEEF) he formed in 2006.

He hammered home the value of employee financial literacy during a recent Society for Human Resource Management webcast.

Thirty million U.S. workers say they are seriously financially distressed and dissatisfied with their finances, he said. These "financially unwell workers," he said, are passive, unengaged in their work, confused and anxious about mortgage and college loans, vehicle and credit card payments, and more.

"They need help with paying down their bills," he observed. "Employers often recognize these issues but don't do anything. They're not sure what to do."

"It's about the basics," he said: offering benefits information and education, credit counseling, a credit union, retirement education, financial advice and financial coaching that changes behaviors.

Workplace education programs and advice have been underutilized and employees do not know how to help themselves, Garman said during the presentation.

But he cautioned employers not to offer that advice themselves. Instead, he said, give workers easy access to financial programs and a provider that focuses on the basics.

Demand more from your current financial program providers and insist on a coordinated, quality program that emphasizes a spending plan, credit management and saving, he said. Look at the mix of programs your provider currently offers and try to fill in the gaps with what works best for you, he said.

"Go cautiously and select some providers that will promise, and then deliver on those promises, and let that program grow," Garman advised.

Garman also noted that PFEEF offers free online personal financial wellness planning tools and subsidizes employers' costs of conducting research on financial education. A PDF version of the webcast can be found at

From HR Magazine, October 2008

The Secrets of Money: A Guide for Everyone on Practical Financial Literacy, by Braun Mincher
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How to Design an "Unconference"

by Harrison Owen, consultant and author of "Open Space Technology: A User’s Guide"

I’m looking to shake up our annual franchisee convention and have been reading about the "unconferences" that seem to be taking off in the high-tech sector. As I understand it, these events are characterized by the absence of an agenda — no preprogrammed breakouts or keynotes, and no topics set in stone. Instead, attendees design their own topics and session agendas on site. Is it possible to successfully adapt this format to a nontechnical industry (namely specialty retail, like
ours)? What do I need to know and do to pull one of these things off?

Five Essential Ingredients
In the 23 years since I, along with 85 other brave souls, originated the "open-space" concept (the foundation of today’s "unconferences") at the Third Annual International Symposium on Organization Transformation in Monterey, CA, more than 100,000 iterations of open space have taken place for purposes as diverse as designing products, pursuing peace in the Middle East, and planning corporate strategy. Participants have come from Fortune 500s, third-world villages, religious communities, governmental agencies, and whole towns. They have been rich, poor, educated and not, politicians, corporate bigwigs, and ordinary citizens. And in each case that I know of, open space appeared to do the job.

Open space is appropriate in any situation — retail included — where the following five preconditions are present:

1. A real problem needs to be solved.

2. The problem to be resolved involves high levels of complexity.

3. There are high levels of diversity among the people needed to solve the problem at hand.

4. High levels of conflict (potential or actual) are present.

5. There is an urgent need for resolution.

Even if these preconditions are all present for your retail franchisees, you may encounter some resistance. Every client I have worked with to develop an open-space event always says the same thing: "Harrison, this is a wonderful idea, but it will never work with this group." So how do you sell open space to your stakeholders and attendees? The answer is that I never try. Remember that in most cases people don’t care about the process, they care about results. And the results you can promise them using open space are these: Every single issue that anyone in attendance cares about will be discussed. There will be a written record of what was discussed. And, if time allows, issues will be prioritized and an action plan to address them will be created.

To achieve those results, one of the best things you can do is to focus the event with a theme that resonates with attendees and that deals with the future of the business. The theme should be characterized by all of the five necessary preconditions for open space. The goal is to open up the space enough so that everyone has an opportunity to think creatively about the important issues, while making the theme specific enough so that it allows people to get some real, meaningful work done.

Finally, before you commit to the idea, read up on open space and learn as much as you can about it. Two very good resources are my own Web site,, and the Open Space Institute’s Web site ( In addition to an abundance of free resources, the latter offers a listserv through which you can connect with more than 500 people around the world who are putting the open space concept to work.

Corporate Event Magazine, Fall 2008

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Using Wikis for Online Collaboration: The Power of the Read-Write Web (Online Teaching and Learning Series (OTL)), by James A. West and Margaret L. West
Designing Successful e-Learning, Michael Allen's Online Learning Library: Forget What You Know About Instructional Design and Do Something Interesting (Michael Allen's E-Learning Library), by Michael W. Allen
Learning in Real Time: Synchronous Teaching and Learning Online (Online Teaching and Learning Series (OTL)), by Jonathan E. Finkelstein

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Providing Opportunities for Good Works Retains Employees

Incorporate good works into your business. The translation of concept into action might be obvious if you’re a lawyer who handles pro bono cases, for example, or a doctor who volunteers at health clinics. But with a bit of creativity, any business can find ways to serve others — and that effort could wind up being good for business, too.

Indeed, Webster says the charitable endeavors of her shop, which has eight part-time employees, create positive activity there. "Anything you can do to pass on goodwill through your business is only going to help your business. That’s not the reason to do it, but it just comes back."

In Kansas City, Mo., the 35 employees of All Star Awards & Ad Specialties can take time off, without losing pay or vacation time, to do volunteer work. "We think a healthy, vibrant community helps us as a business," says co-owner Chuck Vogt, past president of the Rotary Club of Kansas City. The policy has other advantages. "Instead of us picking one or two of our favorite charities and nonprofits and saying no to everyone else, this allows our teammates to participate where they feel their passion," says Vogt. "That makes them happier teammates because they know, in essence, we’re supporting what they feel strongly about. It’s good employee relations as much as anything else."

One endeavor that boosts morale at Yurchyk & Davis, a 16-person accounting firm in Canfield, Ohio, is the monthlong campaign every March for America’s Second Harvest. Clients and employees can bring in food or donate funds, and staffers can "pay" to wear jeans on Fridays, with the money benefiting the hunger-relief organization. "I think our employees know it’s a sincere effort, not a publicity stunt," says David Buttat, a shareholder in the firm.

Karim Kaderali, of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara, CA, has found a way to embed school fundraising into the DNA of his four-person company, Santa Barbara Axxess. The firm sells $30 membership cards good for discounts from hundreds of advertisers, including local spas, pet stores, restaurants, and even Disneyland. Each membership sold by students at the 31 participating schools nets $10 for the school. In five years, students have raised almost $300,000, which has been used to buy school supplies, fund a science camp, and even keep a librarian employed. Santa Barbara Axxess has also been rewarded for its efforts. "The company is respected for being such a leader in fund-raising, that’s kind of what we’re known for," says Kaderali. "It opens doors, it builds legitimacy." Having the positive public perception also helps attract the right employees, he says, and builds employee loyalty. "We are often praised by our customers, schools, and the like, and I know that makes [staffers] feel good."

Although giving back to the community can help a company differentiate itself from competitors, incorporating service isn’t always easy. Many small businesses, especially new ones, are strapped for time and money. And compelling employees to share in a boss’ particular philanthropic passion is generally not a good move. "If the staff is not on board and behind it, if they’re doing it grudgingly, it’s not true service," says Suzanne Ferguson, a business coach and member of the Rotary Club of Three Rivers in Pittsburgh.

Webster encourages small-business owners to think positively. "Your whole mission can go to the next level," she says. "If you have that in the back of your mind, then your business can do a little bit more in your community than just providing the service that you provide."

From The Rotarian, October 2008

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Sustainable Value: How the World's Leading Companies Are Doing Well, by Doing Good by Chris Laszlo
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January 9-11, 2009
Association for Convention Operations Management Annual Conference, Westin New Orleans,

January 11-14, 2009
Professional Convention Management Association Annual Meeting, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans,

January 15-18, 2009
IAL’s 34th International Conference: "Liftoff For Learning", Houston, TX,

January 27-28, 2009
Association Technology Conference, Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC,

January 27-30, 2009
Religion Conference Management Association World Conference, Grand Rapids, MI,

January 29-30, 2009
Exceptional Boards: Strengthening the Governance Team Workshop, Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, MI,

February 9-11, 2009
Training Magazine’s 32nd Annual Event: training 2009, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA,

February 7-10, 2009
Meeting Professionals International: MeetDifferent, Georgia World Congress Center,

February 21-23, 2009
ASAE’s The Great Ideas Conference, Dorol Golf Resort & Spa, a Marriott Resort, Miami, FL,

February 23-25, 2009
Talent Management Magazines’ Strategies 2009, Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, CA,

June 28-July 1, 2009
SHRM 61st Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, LA,

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WAYS TO VOLUNTEER & GIVE has a list of hundreds of organizations that support the military. The Yellow Ribbon Fund is one such group and focuses on injured service members and their families.





K has great tips on green cleaning.
KK & will help you get off junk mail lists.
K has tips on every facet of green living.
K gives advice on replacing old light bulbs w/energy efficient bulbs.
K provides comprehensive "green power" info.
K urges the use of recycled paper.
K helps you plant trees to save the environment.

Going Green At Work
Find ecofriendly building materials and services at
Buy ecofriendly office supplies at http://www.thegreenoffice.comcom
Work from home ideas at 
Find jobs and volunteer opportunities with socially responsible organizations at 
Reduce paperwork by invoicing, & paying employees & bills electronically
TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC.  now invoices exclusively by email and is close to paying everyone
         by credit card, PayPal, or automatic debit from checking account)
Encourage employees to use public transportation
Use ceiling fans to reduce air-conditioning costs
Reduce your hot water heater temperature by 2 degrees and insulate the tank
Use energy-saving light bulbs

B.I.G. ON BOOKS is an organization that promotes literacy in underprivileged countries, primarily Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. You can donate books through most Rotary Clubs. B.I.G. also accepts cash donations. Send email to Steve Frantzich at for more information.

Kicking World Hunger is the biggest soccer juggle-a-thon in the world (uh, that we know of), much like a walk-a-thon, but more fun! Participants sign up to juggle a soccer ball thousands of times while raising money to provide hope for children and communities that desperately need it.

Charity Navigator ( is an in-depth, searchable guide to more than 5,000 charities worldwide that aims to encourage "intelligent giving". They rate charities based on their total expenses, revenues, and organizational capacity. If you want to give, but the recent slew of charity scandals has you feeling skeptical about where your money would go.

Take Pride T-Shirts ( was founded by a group of friends who all share the belief that the more difficult the mission facing our military, the more deserving they are of our thanks and support. Each unique shirt design provides a glimpse into the life of a different US Service member who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and is hand silk-screened. The message of the shirts isn’t political, it's about acknowledging, celebrating, and taking pride in the spirit of young Americans who despite facing an extremely difficult job and unpleasant conditions, nonetheless strive to do their job well. Take Pride gives at least 20% of profits to charities and causes that assist combat veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Set a reminder to visit daily and click this button to help underprivileged women get mammograms. helps you find organizations in your area that spark your interest in volunteering. fights for family-friendly programs and policies at work. honors the heroes and victims of 9/11, by giving ideas for good deeds to perform. helps entrepreneurs by connecting them with backers for short term loans and both make sure the organizations you’re supporting are legit and give the bulk of their money to their mission

Global Volunteers (
You can:
select by type of work project
select by country and date
select by service program conditions
select by cost


Recycle yogurt containers and old toothbrushes!
Recycline’ Preserve partnered with Stonyfield Farm and is recycling yogurt containers into toothbrush handles. Old toothbrushes are used to make plastic lumber for picnic tables. Go to http://www.recycline.comcom for details.

Responsibly Dispose of Your Old Electronics
Donate Old Cell Phones
911 Cell Phone Bank provide free emergency cell phones to needful people through partnerships with law enforcement organizations,

Recycle PCs, cell phones, printers, CDs diskettes, etc., with GreenDisk. For $29.95, they send a 70-pound-capacity box. When it’s full, you download postage from their website and ship it back. Your “junk” then goes to workshops for the disabled and are refurbished.  http://www.greendisk.comm

Donate PCs to National Cristina Foundation,; Goodwill,, Salvation Army,

Recycle PCs and other computer products at Hewlett Packard and Dell. See their websites for details.

Several other places to recycle old PCs:,,

Find local Electronics recyclers at and

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* Get answers to your employee recruiting, inspiring, retaining, & training questions from our experts!


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