Thursday, July 24, 2008

Translating Your EAP to Spanish

Translating your company newsletter to Spanish is an easy thing to do, but it is also easy to make big mistakes in your attempts to do it. Use two translators. One edits. The other proofs. Only use translators that are extremely familiar with the nuances of Spanish for Latin America. How to do this. I suggest using a company called SDL, Inc. which operates under a web site named "Click2Translate.com". One neat idea is to share this cost among many other companies so you don't have to spring for the $200 translation fee each month for about 800 words. One option you may wish to explore is Empleado de FrontLine. Hundreds of companies use it monthly at extremely reasonable cost, and its editable, reproducible, and e-mailable.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Employee Newsletter and the Biggest Behavioral Problems

What are the most important problems that human resource managers face with regard to employee behavior. Is there one location where you can learn about these issues and stay on top of them. And, once they are known, can your employee newsletter do anything to tackle them, help employees with their work-life issues, and help get resolution on some of these issues.

An employee newsletter can. And here are the most popular concerns of human resource managers listed below. Begin to include content about these issues, and you will make a small dent in the behavioral risk fabric of the workplace.

I started digging around at Workforce.com. The site has an e-newsletter that is sent on Tuesdays to approximately 125,000 HR managers. But Workforce.com also has a very cool bulletin board service with more than a million page views on it covering nearly a thousand topics related to HR. The number of visitor clicks on each of these topics has been recorded. Folks, that's some bodacious data. I figured the topics that had the most clicks logically represented the areas of greatest interest to HR managers.

Some topics have 50 to 100 clicks/views recorded. But some have as many as 15,000. In other words, unless someone visited twice, 15,000 people had an interest in those specific topics. I decided to type out a list of topics that had more than 2,000 views.

I then discarded topics that weren't directly relevant to EAPs, such as HR metrics, pension plan issues, and COBRA. I left on the list topics that had some relationship to problems EAPs typically resolve or offer consultative guidance for resolving.

The following list represents a survey of about half the pages on the Web site's bulletin board and includes the topics getting most of the attention (equal to or more than 2,000 clicks).


  • Text Messaging Policies and Issues
    Employees Who Are Always a Little Late
    Managing Mentally Ill Employees
    Divorce and It's Affect on Workers
    Unusual Bathroom Habits Due to Culture or Religion
    Employees Bringing Children to Work
    Stealing and Lying Employees
    Childcare Referral Issues
    Tips for Success in HR in Working with Managers and
    Employees
    Time Management
    Spirituality in the Workplace
    Casual Dress Problems
    Motivating Employees
    Reasonable Accommodations of Employees
    Romance Problems Between Employees
    Terminating an Employee: Dealing with the Emotional Aftermath
    Emotional Stress to HR manager of terminating employees
    Bringing Your Baby to Work
    Combating Rumors
    Helping Employees with Work-Family Balance
    Disciplining Employees: Who and When and How Much
    Motivating Employees Without Monetary Incentives
    Motivating Long-term, Non-managerial Employees
    Diversity Issues and Morale in the Organization
    Helping Immigrant Employees Not Feel Isolated and Left Out
    High Gas Prices Causing Problems for Employees
    Management Burnout
    Negative Employees and How to Influence Them
    Sick Leave for Smoking Withdrawal
    Use of Myers-Briggs Assessment Outcomes
    How to Keep Employees in the Field or Off Site from Feeling Left Out
    How Can HR Boost Employee Productivity
    How to Communicate for Effectively with Employees
    The Entitled Employee—Attitudes of Those that Think the Organization "Owes" Them
    Coaching/Disciplining Employees on Their Attitude
    Supervisors Waiting until Evaluation Time to Address Issues
    Teams and Evaluating Individual Members Who Don't Contribute
    Teaching Supervisors How to Supervise
    Employee Communication: Keeping Them Informed and Involved Body Odor
    Worsening Employee Morale and Turning It Around
    Deciding if an Employee Should Be Terminated
    Pornography on Company Laptop Computers
    How to Win Back Employees Who Are Angry at the Company
    Teaching Supervisors How to Motivate Their Staffs
    Invigorating and Making Staff Meetings More Exciting

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Workplace Newsletters and Soft Skills Education

Your newsletter can be a powerful vehicle for bringing soft skills to employees and helping improve your bottom line. If you're paying attention to the news, you know about the burgeoning economies of the Asia. Some countries like India, are experiencing double-digit enconomic growth records for their economies. And guess where they are seeking business? You guessed it--the United States and Western Europe. Imagine the challenge they face--these Asian countries attempting to convince us Westerners to do business with them rather than our neighbors. Well, that is the challenge. And, well, they're winning! One reason businesses in these developing economies are doing so well is because they are experts on soft skills. These soft skills include etiquette, politeness, honesty, respectful behavior, negotiating, and many more. These are people skills. These Asian countries also have a fast growing industry of consultants to teach people these soft skills and they are making a fortune. Your employee newsletter should dedicate space to soft skills. Find out what they are. And start dribbling the information on your employees. It will power up your bottom line! Check out these skills--big sellers in India:

  • 7 Steps to A Lot More Sales skills
  • Art of Meetings
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Customer Astonishment: The Commitment to World-Class Customer Care
  • Customer Service Plus
  • Dealing With Difficult Employees
  • Decision Making
  • Delegation - Leveraging Through Others
  • Interviewing Skills: Hiring the Best
  • Interviewing Skills: Landing the Job You Want
  • Leverage for Leadership in Business and Success in Life
  • Making the Transition to Management
  • Negotiations Plus 101
  • Organizational Communications
  • Problem Solving
  • Sales Plus
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Team Management - Enabling Teams
  • Team Management - Leading Teams
  • Teams Management - Managing Team Conflict
  • Team Management - Team Participation
  • The Art of Active Listening
  • Time Management
  • Writing for Business Professionals

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Your Newsletter Can Deliver Management's Message

An employee newsletter is a powerful tool for getting important messages to your employees--messages that management wants them to heed. The trick of course is doing it without looking like you are badgering employees. Certainly management wants employees to put customers first, reduce conflict with peers, get to work on time, take initiative, put the needs of the company first, and many other positive behaviors that help it with the bottom line. A newsletter is a bottom line enhancer. It can do this by communicating the message in a way that it inspires cooperation. The key is having a close collaborative relationship with your newsletter writer. If you purchase a mass produced newsletter, you lose this control and cost-benefit. When I work with an organization to produce their newsletter, I learn about the concerns of management. I want to know what is keeping them awake at night. For example, one concern top management has is fear of getting sued. In very indirect, but important ways, newsletter articles should have a prevention function, and this is certainly one topic that needs focus.

An employee newsletter can reduce this risk: Take a look at this article from the April 2008 newsletter of FrontLine Employee:

Powerfully Respectful Workplaces
Many behaviors commonly exhibited by employees can be detrimental to the well-being and productivity of coworkers. A lack of respect in the workplace, if left unchecked, will drag down morale, create higher turnover, and increase risks to the employer. What role do you play in contributing to a respectful workplace? Respect is the regard or consideration we have for others in all aspects of what concerns them—personal property, appearance, character traits, values, personal space, opinions, and emotional well-being. Disrespect toward others can negatively affect any of these things, so it is important to understand the role we play in maintaining a respectful workplace. Each of us has personal power, and with it, we affect others around us, whether we know it or not. Your daily actions signal to others the level of personal respect that you hold for them. Understanding that what you do matters can increase your personal awareness and give you more control over the direct, indirect, or unspoken signals you send to others. It can lead you to make improvements in your relationships and increase your happiness at work. This awareness is the key to minimizing strife and hostility, and to increasing the courtesy and mutual respect that all of us want from each other.

Can you see how such an article goes hand in hand with a workplace policy on preventing harassment? Can you see how powerful an employee newsletter can be?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Employee Newsletters and Social Issues

Many vital social issues can best be communicated by EAPs and other workplace health and wellness professionals because of their unique ability to reach employees with established channels of communication. That means employee newsletter folks!

Here is a press release issued yesterday by the American Psychological Association. It discusses the first empirical study of the 21st birthday binge drinking ritual known as "21 for 21".

EAPtools.com will produce a Free Fact Sheet on Binge Drinking Dangers in the near future. It will include updated information made possible by the study mentioned below.

You can obtain an original copy of this press release from this link at the American Psychological Association

APA Press Release
May 19, 2008
Contact: Audrey Hamilton
Public Affairs Office
(202) 336-5706

STUDY FINDS 21ST BIRTHDAY BINGE DRINKING EXTREMELY COMMON; CAN POSE SERIOUS HEALTH HAZARDS
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Washington,DC: The "21 for 21" ritual, where 21st birthday revelers attempt to down 21 alcoholic drinks, is highly prevalent among college students, according to new research. In the largest study of its kind, researchers at the University of Missouri determined that many college students drink to excess on their 21st birthdays and potentially jeopardize their health.
The study will appear in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association. The data were collected from a larger study where students at one university were followed for four years and asked questions about their drinking behaviors.

For this portion of the online survey, 2,518 current and former college students from one university responded to several questions. The participants had already turned 21 and were asked whether they had drunk alcohol to celebrate turning 21, and, if so, how much they had drunk and for how long. The researchers found that excessive drinking on this particular birthday was common, with more than four out of five participants reporting they had consumed some alcohol on their birthday. Of those participants, 34 percent of men and 24 percent of women reported consuming 21 drinks or more. The maximum for women was about 30 drinks, while the maximum for men was about 50 drinks.

Based on the information the participants provided, the researchers estimated the drinkers' blood alcohol content, reporting that 49 percent of men and 35 percent of women had estimated blood alcohol contents of 0.26 or higher, a level that clearly indicates severe alcohol intoxication and could lead to dangerous health problems such as disorientation, coma and even death. To put it in context, an average size woman would have to drink anywhere between seven and nine drinks per hour to attain a BAC of 0.26, while the average man would have to drink between 10 and 12 drinks.

"This study provides the first empirical evidence that 21st birthday drinking is a pervasive custom in which binge drinking is the norm," said Patricia C. Rutledge, PhD, the study's lead author. "This research should serve as evidence that there needs to be more public education about the dangers of 21st birthday binge drinking. The risks here are not limited to those with a history of problematic drinking, and there needs to be a strategy to address a custom that can lead to alcohol poisoning and, possibly, death."

These findings may not apply to all college-age students in the United States. The data in this study were obtained from a single Midwestern university and most of the participants were white. Also, the authors suggest that future studies should attempt to capture 21st birthday behavior as it's happening in order to obtain more detailed results. Article: "21st Birthday Drinking: Extremely Extreme," Patricia C. Rutledge, PhD, University of Missouri - Columbia and Allegheny College; Aesoon Park, and Kenneth J. Sher, PhD, University of Missouri - Columbia and the Midwest Alcoholism Research Center; Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 76, No. 03.


(Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/ccp763511.pdf )


Contact Patricia Rutledge by e-mail. You can reach her by phone at 814-332-6271 or 814-332-5361.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Employee Newsletters Save Lives

Don't think your employee newsletter can save lives? Think again. Workplace employee newsletters have captured audiences--your employees. That means you have the ability to significantly change their lives for the better, and depending on what content you place in your newsletter, easily save lives. Here is an example: This is a press release from the American Psychological Association on the subject of "Binge Drinking and Consuming and Consuming 21 Drinks On One's 21st birthday. It happens a lot as you will see from the press release, but who is responsible for getting this information to these young people. The press release doesn't say that. Well, it's you. It's not going to be the newspapers or parents--at least most anyway. So, use information like this in your newsletter.
======================================
APA Press ReleaseMay 19, 2008Contact:

Audrey HamiltonPublic Affairs Office(202) 336-5706

STUDY FINDS 21ST BIRTHDAY BINGE DRINKING EXTREMELY COMMON; CAN POSE SERIOUS HEALTH HAZARDS

Drug-related cues may sway adolescent preference more strongly -->
Washington,DC—The “21 for 21” ritual, where 21st birthday revelers attempt to down 21 alcoholic drinks, is highly prevalent among college students, according to new research. In the largest study of its kind, researchers at the University of Missouri determined that many college students drink to excess on their 21st birthdays and potentially jeopardize their health.
The study will appear in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, which is published by the American Psychological Association. The data were collected from a larger study where students at one university were followed for four years and asked questions about their drinking behaviors.

For this portion of the online survey, 2,518 current and former college students from one university responded to several questions. The participants had already turned 21 and were asked whether they had drunk alcohol to celebrate turning 21, and, if so, how much they had drunk and for how long. The researchers found that excessive drinking on this particular birthday was common, with more than four out of five participants reporting they had consumed some alcohol on their birthday. Of those participants, 34 percent of men and 24 percent of women reported consuming 21 drinks or more. The maximum for women was about 30 drinks, while the maximum for men was about 50 drinks.

Based on the information the participants provided, the researchers estimated the drinkers' blood alcohol content, reporting that 49 percent of men and 35 percent of women had estimated blood alcohol contents of 0.26 or higher, a level that clearly indicates severe alcohol intoxication and could lead to dangerous health problems such as disorientation, coma and even death. To put it in context, an average size woman would have to drink anywhere between seven and nine drinks per hour to attain a BAC of 0.26, while the average man would have to drink between 10 and 12 drinks.

“This study provides the first empirical evidence that 21st birthday drinking is a pervasive custom in which binge drinking is the norm,” said Patricia C. Rutledge, PhD, the study's lead author. “This research should serve as evidence that there needs to be more public education about the dangers of 21st birthday binge drinking. The risks here are not limited to those with a history of problematic drinking, and there needs to be a strategy to address a custom that can lead to alcohol poisoning and, possibly, death.”

These findings may not apply to all college-age students in the United States. The data in this study were obtained from a single Midwestern university and most of the participants were white. Also, the authors suggest that future studies should attempt to capture 21st birthday behavior as it's happening in order to obtain more detailed results. Article: "21st Birthday Drinking: Extremely Extreme," Patricia C. Rutledge, PhD, University of Missouri – Columbia and Allegheny College; Aesoon Park, and Kenneth J. Sher, PhD, University of Missouri – Columbia and the Midwest Alcoholism Research Center; Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 76, No. 03. (Full text of the article is available from the APA Public Affairs Office and at http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/ccp763511.pdf ) Contact Patricia Rutledge by e-mail. You can reach her by phone at 814-332-6271 or 814-332-5361.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.
###

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Where are all those Monthly Observances

Okay, big secret to share -- the link where you can find all of those monthly and weekly health and wellness celebrations and observances.

Find them at: http://www.healthfinder.gov/library/nho/nho.asp?year=2008#m11

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Customer Service: Critical Element of Any Employee Newsletter

Customers are the lifeblood of an enterprise, and helping employees provide outstanding customer service couldn't be a more important topic for an employee newsletter. However, you can't be very direct about this topic. You have to use a back door approach to educating employees about customer service. And the best back door topic is "Managing Customer Service Stress". Employees want to know about this topic. But what many employees and many peopel don't realize is that managing stress is intimately connected to great customers service. They aren't opposites. Use short articles. Short articles will be remembered by employees. Help employees learn how to examine their behavior and how good service relates to reduced stress for customer service personnel. It's absolutely true. The two subjects are like a hand in a glove. Discuss: How to suprise customers, demonstrating pride, doing more than customers ask for, listening honestly, avoiding off-putting phrases like "You can't do that." or "That's not my job.", always smiling, not lecturing customers, never interruping a customer who is venting. And here is one phrase all custmer service employees should learn: "I understand how frustrating it is when that happens. If (problem) happened to me, I wouldn't like it very much either."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Demand Attention! You've Got Needs!

Listen. Don't let these workplace newsletter publishers push you around. The content in your newsletter has to reflect what's important and on-topic in your organization. You need the right content. But you purchased a newsletter that is provided by a vendor, and they can't write articles just for your organization without charging you, correct? WRONG! Chances are that whatever is bugging your employees or your work organization, is an issue or problem for many companies too. And any newsletter provider (such as yours truly), should be wiling to construct article content that will meet these needs. That way your newsletter is relevant to your employees and you'll get more kudos for meeting the needs of the workforce. Any newsletter publishing company should welcome your input! Frankly, I am on my knees begging for it. I wish more subscribers would tell me what's going on in their companies. The fodder for original content is beyond comprehension. End writer's block forever, I say. Give me your ideas for articles. Plus, let's face it, that way you will renew your subscription. It's called customer service. Are you dealing with a publisher who is gone in Bermuda while the staff does the work? Or one who does the work to make sure you can get to Bermuda and relax while you're there knowing things are taken care back home. There's a difference. Demand attention!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Big Topic Idea: Improving Relationships with Supervisors

If there is on malady employees complain about more than any other, it's the problem relationship with their supervisors. Listen enough to these complaints and you would swear the employee is never at fault for these problematic relationships. Indeed, the problems that the supervisor is out to "get them." Employees need ideas and tips about improving the relationship they have with their supervisor or manager. And their are huge payoffs for doing it, especially if it comes from outside or neutral source--your newsletter author. If there is on thing on my mind at all times with subscribers, it's pleasing top management. There are so many things top management would like to say to employees, but they would never listen. Most of it revolves around communication in the relationship with the supervisors, and much revolves around the topic of not see the world of authority figures as evil and corrupt. Harmony can be obtain with the immediate supervisor in many cases, and in most it is not the supervisor's fault that things have gone to pot. Here are a few topics I like to put in employee newsletters that pertain to this issue. These are from my E029 fact sheet from the web site:

· Improve channels of communication and increase frequency of communication
· Speak with your boss freely about your concerns
· Ask for advice about problems you experience
· Write down your concerns and share them
· Consider your boss’s perspective
· Use tact when discussing your differences


When having trouble working with your boss, DON’T:
· Jump to conclusions
· Suspect your boss of plotting against you
· Make unfounded accusations based on supposition rather than facts
· Speak while angry
· Remain in denial and avoid your boss
· Criticize your boss in front of others

Anyway, you get the point!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Is Your Newsletter Putting Your Company at Risk?

Imagine an informative article on "Compulsive Gambling" in your organization's employee wellness newsletter. What would you rather see—an article with 5 to 6 questions in it that helps an employee reading it to begin seeing that he or she has a gambling addiction, or an informative article that includes all 20 quiz questions from Gamblers Anonymous, so the employee with a concern knows for sure if they have a problem?
Many freelance-authored employee newsletters with long feature articles go for the whole enchilada—the 20-question option—and, as a result, “overeducate” the reader. It's a big mistake. And it can expose your organization to greater risk. Did you think it should be just the opposite? It's not.
After 20 years of writing workplace newsletters for work organizations, EAPA chapters, small business associations, addiction and psychiatric programs, hospitals, and supervisors, I have learned that the best approach is to have only 5–6 questions in this type of wellness article.
But why?
An article that discusses a health problem associated with strong components of denial is more able to help an employee or point the employee in the direction of solving the problem if it gives enough information to create a sense of urgency and then motivates the reader to take action. Too much information can undermine the desire to take action.
A shorter, less informative article permits the author to motivate the reader to hunger for more information, and possibly get help for the personal problem—whatever it might be. In this example, it is compulsive gambling. The goal of such an article should be to motivate the reader to follow the instructions within the article to the next step. In other words, articles in wellness and EAP-type newsletters are not entertainment. They are sales letters.
Unfortunately, the risk is great that the more information an employee has about a personal problem, the more likely it is that he or she will become educated enough to self-treat the problem or (at worst) add to their intellectualization defense to avoid treatment, perhaps with a dose of additional willpower to control symptoms thrown in. Intellectualization is the most difficult defense mechanism for professional helpers to penetrate.
Of course, self-diagnosis is a good thing, but with diseases prone to denial, and in the absence of a professional steering the decision to accept help, defense mechanisms can become more deeply engrained. When this happens, employees often pursue self-treatment or partial cures.
Have you heard the catchy phrase associated with advertising that says, "Be sure to leave them wanting more."? This sums up my point.
When informative health articles provide only a measured amount of information and leave the employee "wanting more" with instructions on how to get it, it is easier to motivate the employee to get help—and professional motivational counseling can increase the likelihood of proper treatment being accepted.
Hopefully, an employee assistance program is available in your organization and it is one that knows your work culture well, so preselling of the EAP assessment occurs before an employee ever picks up the phone. This is a critical but missing (or impossible) element of many EAP delivery models.
But you get the point. Long articles with lots of information decrease utilization of an employee counseling program and increase behavioral exposure for the work organization. When it comes to problems like violence in the workplace, prevention could lie in the way an article on anger management is written and how it motivates the employee to act.
Articles in employee newsletters are also loss prevention tools. The goal should be not to just create better employees, but to create better people. Your company employee newsletter has power. Use it to maximize the help employees receive and the good it does for your work organization.
Daniel Feerst, MSW, LISW, is author and publisher of an employee newsletter used by the U.S. Congress, and publisher of the workplace newsletter FrontLine Employee, which is available by subscription and used by thousands of companies nationwide. Learn more about FrontLine Employee. You can reach Dan Feerst at 1-800-626-4327. See Dan's newsletter tips on his blog. Click here to learn more: http://www.workplacenewsletters.blogspot.com/.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More On...Who's Writing Newsletter Articles Your Employees Will Read

Yipes! Never start a sentence with the words, "Have you ever wondered..." It's the sure sign of an amateur writer, but in this case it's critical. Have you ever wondered what degree of influence an employee newsletter writer has with your employees? It's a lot. So, what is the resume of this person? What is their experience? Are they cruising the internet for superficial content just so you can say that you have a newsletter for your employees? Or, is the writer using extensive experience to always go one step lower, one layer deeper, to find the unique and fascinating concepts within in any story that has not yet been revealed? Can the writer find that one issue so important that employees will grab it and run for a better life with it--changed forever. Employee newsletters can do that. But you have to decide that is what you want in your employee newsletter. Chances are that your employees deserve that much. Add customizable ability and you have a powerful newsletter tool working for your company. Information changes all of us. Make sure your employee newsletter can change and enhance your employees' lives. our company will reap the rewards. You'll not only produce better widgets, you may influence the happiness of employees in ways so profound, you change the world and never know it. Match professional writing experience with practical work-life experience of the writer and you will do your employees justice--and their families and children when the newsletter finds its way home. And it will.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Two Pages or Four Pages? That is the Question

Don't do it. A four page newsletter is trashed at the end of couple pages. Why? Distraction of course. The sense of urgency to go back and pick it up after the distraction is over won't be there. New things are attractive, so any newsletter will be picked up and read, but how far employees get with the content is almost predictable. They may scan quickly for catchy titles, but frequently 4-page newsletters (usually distributed quarterly--and that is another problem for discussion.) get tossed. When employees get four page newsletters, the chances are that they are not sitting down in their living room with a cup of tea and a warm fireplace. Instead they are on the go--in the elevator reading your newsletter that they just grabbed out of their mailbox on the way out the door. You only have minutes and short articles, fewer pages, more frequently distributed are the only way to go. This is the 21st Century, not the 1900's. Time is a precious commodity and employees need the information fast. So quick and fast is where it's at. There are more reasons too. And I will discuss them, but right now you have to run! I will be here when you get back! See what I mean!

Where's the Hottest News for Employees?

Try Technorati.com! Never heard of it? Well, some web site tech experts decided that blogging was so hot and here to stay, they decided to create a web site where anyone could go and discover the hottest topics in the blogisphere. Do you know what this means? It means whatever is "topical" in the news or in society, probably has someone who knows a lot about it "blogging" daily, or a couple times a week on that subject. These experts are often the brightest folks on the planet. You always get a chance to see who they are on their blog, but doing so will give you confidence that what their are saying is credible. When you visit www.technorati.com you can search on any topic and instantly discover who is blogging about it. For example, if you want stress tips for employees, try plugging it in, and then see what comes up. Then visit that blog and ask that blogger for permission to use something you find worthwhile. Of course, as I have mentioned before, you can always use the subject matter to trigger your own thoughts, expertise, or experience that can allow you to compose copy that is original, but includes the ideas of the article. Remember, ideas can't be copyrighted.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Make Your Employee Newsletter Drive People to Get Help

Do you have an employee assistance program or some sort of counseling service to help employees resolve personal problems that interfere with job performance. You’re smart if you do, but is your newsletter shooting this program in the foot. Perhaps your program is nothing more than an “800” hotline available to your employees located on the back of an insurance card? If so, this service is under-utilized if is it is not well promoted and it is especially under-utilized if your work-life-productivity newsletter does not encourage employees to use it continuously in its articles. One way to promote such a program and boost utilization, is to mention the EAP to employees in newsletter articles that discuss specific types of personal problems. Drawing attention to the EAP in articles will cause employees motivated by the article, to go to the next step and phone for help. Also, a newsletter must not be superficial but also should not be too comprehensive either. Either type of article will increase risk to your organization. Why? If articles are too comprehensive then employees get too much information and think they have everything they need to effectively self-treat the personal problem, affliction, or disease themselves. They may seek the wrong treatment, use half-measures, or simply make renewed attempts with willpower to control symptoms. Short articles can be extremely effective, but don’t count on employees getting much out of a newsletter that only discusses simple subjects like “how important it is to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day—something almost everyone knows. Your newsletter must go farther, deeper by encourage people to use the organization’s EAP.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Don't forget about Supervisor Stress Management

Supervisors are your silent sufferers. Of course they are also employees, but they have different needs than line staff or the larger group of employees in your company. Nearly all employees see supervisors or line managers as having fewer needs than themselves. Supervisors are privileged the average employee will say. "We're they peons! We make less pay. And we're the ones who need the help." As you know, this is nonsense. Supervisors and line managers need support too, and typically lots of it. So, make sure you employee newsletter deals with supervisor stress! These issues include keeping relationships effective with top management and learn skills of supervision concretely so they don't have to do it on the fly placing the company at risk.

Have You Been Fooled By Newsletter Publishers?

Print newsletters are e-x-p-e-n-s-i-v-e! And publishers know that you really don't want to spend all of the money, so what was their solution to get you to bite? Well, back in the 1980's when work-life newsletters became popular, most came up with the idea to print and sell you a quarterly 4-page newsletter. They could print less frequently, charge a lot of money, and if because you didn't have much of a choice, play to your sense of laziness and only put you to work distributing a quarterly publication. Great. Then somehow, all of that became the "standard". Everybody had a 4-page newsletter--like there was only four months in the entire year instead of twelve.

You then began to thing that this was the way newsletters were supposed to be--quarterly, in print, and priced high. WRONG!

You forgot about your employees.

You see, they deserve better than you only showing up 4 times a year offering them useful and vital work-life information they are desperate for having as soon as they can get it. With a quarterly newsletter, trust me, you are an afterthought. Distributing a quarterly newsletter is almost like an apology for bothering people. Have you been intimidated by top management telling you that "employees already have too much to read"? Well, you the one who should be distributing a newsletter more frequently, and the organization should be distributing its stuff less!

And get this, 4-page newsletters--hold on to your 3-holed punched binder--don't get read by employees. They scan them, read the headlines, and toss them. Usually 4-5 five articles is all they contain, but most are too long-winded. Employees are too much on the go to spend much time with them. They want short, action-oriented, punchy, useful articles--not a book.

So what the alternative.

The answer is the 2-page, short and concise, actionable article format, and distributed monthly by PDF/e-mail.

Why is this way the most effective way to go. Number 1 is selfish but critical: It gives you top of mind visibility. No matter what you're doing, your marketing if your in business. In fact, marketing is more important than what you market. Without marketing, you're gone. No one gets what you have to offer. The facts from directing experts are this: Every month that you do not "touch" your customers (employees in this case) 10% forget that you even exist. Can you affort that? No.

4-page newsletters are less of a burdon on you but they are threat to your business because they do not provide the top-of-mind visibility you need to stay in business. Also, do you realize with all that content (most of which is not read) employees frequently "self-diagnose" personal problems and medical conditions, and then self-treat? If the articles in your newsletter are too comprehensive, they create risk because they offer too much information and little or no call to action. The call to action is calling the employee assistance program if the company has one or contacting a mental health center or other resource to address the problem discussed in the article.

For example, it is far better for an article to quickly energize and educate about gambling addiction and provide only a few scarey symptoms of the illness, and then a call to action. If the article is long-winded, and gives all 20 questions of a Gambler's Anonymous quiz, then the employee will seek no more information on the subject. That's it. Risk continues. The employee will self-treat, which usually means half-measures, the wrong treatment, or another commitment to willpower. Are you starting to the point of how powerful a work-life or work life newsletter can be.

Your employee newsletter articles MUST LEAVE EMPLOYEES wanting more. And a helping resource is where that information needs to come from. These articles will feed your employee assistance program. And whether you are an EAP reading this, or a business owner, that is precisely what you want in order to make such a risk reduction investment worth every penny.

Go for two-page newsletters and begin today. Stop apologizing and feeling like other programs in the work organization are more important than you, or that employees "already have too much to read" (Geez, I hate that phrase). Be assertive with your work-life-productivity newsletter program. Employees deserve nothing less than to get 50% more content per year, and more likely to be read content as well. Only a two page monthly newsletter will do that.

Dan Feerst is publisher of WorkLife Excel and FrontLine Employee Editable work-life-productivity newsletters. You can reach him at http://www.eaptools.com/

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Finding Good, Solid Original Content for Your Newsletter

How do I come up with original content for articles that go into my workplace work-life and productivity newsletters? There is a secret to it, and I would like to share it with you. I have written about 1700 articles for the workplace that help employees and supervisors, and my last best calculated estimate is that about 3,500,000 million employees read my articles each month. I guess it is possible that I am the most widely read employee assistance professional and social worker in the U.S. (I just thought about this for the first time while writing this - GEEZ!)

At any rate, helping people with a work-life article that is meaningful is not hard to do. That's more important than being first or last as an author. Articles that talk about the same old topics have always ticked me off -- you know, like eat these five vegetabless--the same old stuff. I want meat in my articles! So the topics must focus on family productivity and improving wellness, both physical and mental health wellness. Mental health wellness (some people call it right thinking) are really important topics for me. Anyway, how the heck is this done. Here's how:

If you go to your local library or the internet (sometimes I like libraries better because I get out of the office easier) and start searching periodical stacks, you will discover thousands of contempoary, timely articles in this magazines. Millions of dollars are plowed into these publications to determine what employee and people in general want to read. Pick up any one and begin to read any article. Keep a note book and a pen handy because soon the ideas will be flowing.

As you read any article, keep in the forefront of your mind what this article means to you personally, what is missing from the article, what questions does it raise, what more could be said, and who it could possibly help? Ask your self, what would be Part II to this article be if you wrote it, and think about the sentences in the article and what topics--no matter how unconnected they might--be pop into your mind as you read the article.

You could read an article about dog-grooming and as the brush strokes are being described, you may think "How much to dog grooming brushes cost and are some better than others?" There's your article: Dog Grooming: Don't Brush Off the Type of Bristles You Using - then talk about effectiveness, injury to dog, disease, and do some research or talk to some experts on the type of grooming brushes that best for which type of dog coat.

I think you get the idea. Jot down your ideas and you are off to the races with solid original content of for your em

Friday, March 21, 2008

How to Find Newsletter Content

One of the most difficult challenges is how to find meaningful newsletter content for your organization's employee or work-life-productivity newsletter. There is one axiomatic truth about this problem. The more rushed you are to find content, the more writer's block you will experience. You must create a system to have a continual flow of ideas. Here's how: Get one of those folders that has a about 10-20 slots. Name each slot using the catagories shown below in this blog. Then, get a stack of 3x5 lined index cards and keep them at your desk. Whenever you get an article idea, you will write the idea on one of these cards and through it in the proper slot. The more you read, the easier it is to find content for articles. You have life experience, and within this life experience are million ideas for newsletter content. The only problem you face is pulling those article ideas out of your mind. They way you are going to do that is by reading work-life-productivity material and freeing up your thoughts as you read it with the idea of writing about specific topics. For example, I was reading Workforce Magazine web site this morning. It's called www.workforce.com. As I was reading, I saw an article about the recession we are supposed to be in right now. The articles said more and more people are pulling money out of their IRA's to stay ahead. Bam! An article idea hit me: Write an article on what the long-term costs are for pulling your money out of an IRA. It could cost 10x to 20x what the amount is that is pulled out. So the angle of the article is not to do it, and instead who to talk to an where to turn if you face this dire problem. So article ideas will come to you as your read journals in doctors office, while you're in line shopping for groceries at the checkout counter, and "thoughts" that come out of no where while you are taking a hot shower. When this happens, don't try to commit to memory your article idea. No--write it down. If you don't you will forget, and you will kicking yourself because these gems are worth their weight in gold.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Who Should Write a Workplace Newsletter?

Work-Life-Productivity Newsletters are direct communication to employees about some of the most important issues in their lives. They have the potential to have life-changing and ever-lasting effects on employees depending on what they say.

A work-life-productivity newsletter can influence an employee to become a better team member, cause a married employee to seek counseling for a trouble relationship, help another employee become more organized, and yes, perhaps influence a troubled employee to not
turn to violence. You never know. And you never will know what role a work-life-productivity
newsletter played in loss prevention or crisis prevention.

So who should write this material?

Should you get doctor? A nurse? A freelance health writer? What about a organizational development expert? Perhaps a human resources consultant?

I would like to suggest none of these should be writing a work-life-productivity newsletter. Instead, I would like to recommend an experienced, licensed mental health professional,
who is also a certified employee assistance professional with extensive experience. What kind of experience?

Only a workplace professional who has counseled employees on every conceivable personal problem and trained managers on all types of behavioral risk issues, and who knows how to write effectively can deliver the articles that delve deeper to empower employees
and get them "moving" to better achievements at home and at work. You can find Certified Employee Assistance Professionals through the Employee Asisstance Professionals Association at www.eapassn.org.

Having the right writer is what pays off in one of the most important initiatives you will ever undertake -- giving your employees an effective work-life-productivity newsletter. It's not
just the newsletter. It's who's writing that counts.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

12 Secrets to a Powerhouse Newsletter

If you want to kick-butt on creating a powerful workforce or employee newsletter that helps reduce risk in your organization, here is how to do it. You focus on these topics:

Workplace communication: conflict, personality issues, dealing with difficult people, attitude problems, issues, and "ulterior motives", etc.

Worker productivity tips: time management, organization, setting priorities, procrastination, etc.

Family, home, and community issues: Consumer issues, teenager issues, family stress, marital and couples harmony, resolving conflicts, work-life balance, ADHD issues, etc.
Personal fitness and emotional wellness: Exercise tips, getting more energy, depression, emotional wellness

Personal effectiveness and goal achievement: planning your career, getting more done, planning for retirement, New Year resolutions, managing money

Team building: Tips on better meetings, reducing conflict, improving communication, about cohesiveness, being a team player, etc.

Improving relationships with supervisors: communication, knowing what your supervisor wants, completing assignments all the way, making an impression

Hot productivity and health topics: health issues in the news, ideas, and more

Stress management: ongoing tips, avoiding burnout, self-assessment,

Using the Employee Assistance Program (EAP): EAP education, confidentiality, what EAPs do, when to use your EAP. EAPs are powerful management tools that have extraordinary capability for reducing monstrous behavioral risks in the typical organization--but only if they are properly implemented.

Workplace safety tips and injury prevention: Avoiding short-cuts, injury prevention, thinking safety, building a culture of safety, more ways to think about safety
Customer service issues: attitudes, difficult customers, peak performance, staying positive, keeping customers happy, reducing your own stress.

Soon I will discuss how to grab hot content from your organization to create ideas for articles that eveyone wants to read.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Powerful Workplace Newsletters for Employees

Welcome to this new blog on helping your company maximize its productivity and service capability with a wellness and productivity enhancing newsletter for employees. My name is Daniel A. Feerst, LISW-CP, CEAP. I am a licensed clinical social worker and certified employee assistance professional who is author of the WorkLife Newsletter distributed to the 12,000 employees of the U.S. Congress.

My key goal in this blog is to increase your company's productivity and reduce its exposure to financial and human losses resulting from the behavior of employees and supervisors in all aspects of their interaction with the each other, the material environment, customers, and very importantly their families. You and I are going on a journey together, and I am going to show you how you can keep your company newsletter powerful and effective, so it super-charges your employees by serving as a communication vehicle that becomes one of your most valuable and enjoyable risk and loss reduction strategies.

We will discuss alcoholism and drug addiction, injury issues that protract worker recovery, increasing job satisfaction, conflict and personalities problems, preventing accidents, how to reduce your insurance premiums by managing behavioral risk better, and how employee assistance programs can make your organization "cook with gas!" if they are established correctly. You'll pump out more profits with less stress, or service humanity better if your mission is service, all because you are investing in effective communications that enhance human resources--your organization's most precious resources.

All of these issues can be addressed with an effective internally distributed newsletter that delves a little deeper than the standard "eat these five vegetables" type of wellness newsletter. The workplace has changed in case you haven't noticed. I am going to help guide though it using my 30 years experience in helping employees and business organizations go the next level of job satisfaction and reduced exposure by teaching you (not so humbly) how to do it with effective newsletter communications that will enhance and build on any other programs or services that you currently have in place that support this mission.

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