Sunday, October 25, 2009

Secret Weapon Increases Employee Readership

It's time for another visit to the newsletter ideas department. You will like this newsletter tip that you will soon claim as a secret weapon for increasing the likelihood that employees will read your company's employee newsletter. If you use a newsletter template, you may not see this technique, so be sure to include it. The technique is the "drop cap".

It's likely that you have been manipulated (in a good way) by this scientifically proven technique to increase article readership by as much as 25%. A drop cap is the first letter of a paragraph or story increased in size by some significant measure in order draw attention to the beginning of the article in such a manner as to cause it to be read.

As you can see in the image below, the first letter of the paragraph is larger. This technique grabs attention, is optically pleasing, and will help you busy employee readers grab the article with their eyes and start reading it.

Use drop caps. MS Publisher has a special tool for this purpose. Don't try to create it from scratch. You'll go crazy. The drop-cap tool in MS Publisher is located under format -- choose "Drop Cap".

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clip Art for Your Newsletter

There is a ton of free clipart on the Internet, but believe me when I say that most of it is not worth pursuing. It is time consuming to find the image associated with a specific topic, and there are many hoops you must hurdle through to get the image you want for free. Time is money and the best source that I have found on the Internet is You can get photos or clipart, although it is named "". The price is only $159 per year for unlimited downloads of the artwork. That is a great bargain, and with over 6 million images, you can't go wrong. Stay away from "free clipart" is my recommendation. (This post is from the been there, done it, and got the T-shirt and scars to prove it department.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Solving Problems with Supervisors

Your employee newsletter or workplace newsletter has endless possibilities for managing risk. Consider writing an article to help employees take action and be proactive about fixing relationships with their supervisors when problems arise.

Not getting along with the boss will rank high on any employee’s list of stressors. Taking initiative to fix the relationship is tough, but payoffs are huge for reduced conflict, increase productivity, and the viral improvement of morale.

Further deterioration of a supervisor-supervisee relationship makes it tougher to repair down the road. Employees should be prompted to take the time to define the real issue creating problems in their relationship before such a meeting however.

The next step is discuss one's perspective with a confidential, professional helper to gain clarity on the purpose and need for the meeting with a supervisor. An employee assistance professional (no not an 800# cubicle counselor in cyberspace) is the ideal confidant. The goal for the employee is an improved relationship, not finding fault. This takes some coaching by the counselor because employees typically have convinced themselves that the supervisor is out to get them. A role play can be immensely helpful.

Has the employee played any role in the problem? Do communication issues in the past contribute to the difficulties that are experienced in the relationship at present?

Employees won't get very far if they don’t accept the universal principle that each party in conflict plays a role in contributing to it. Your workplace newsletter can offer this guidance and appear as neutral and powerful source of the information. (Simply use parts of this post in your article. Massage the content you see here to make the point. You can get more articles, just the text without royalties on similar topics at

Continuing..after preparation, the employee explains in plain, unemotional language the observations and concerns about the relationship. An employee should use I statements. “It appears that we are having difficulties in our relationship.” or “I have been concerned about the way we communicate", etc.

An employee trying to fix a relationship with a supervisors should apply universal rules to the process. 1) Be positive—not cocky or passive aggressive. 2) Don’t act like you’ve cornered your boss. 3) Let the boss respond to your statements without interrupting. 4) Always let the boss have the last word. And 5) initiate regular contact with your boss going forward. Do not let any more trees grow between you after chopping one down.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Employee Newsletters: Entertainment or Risk Management in Disguise?

A newsletter is written to a captured audience -- your employees. They are at work and anything you offer them in writing has a fairly high likelihood of being read. With this in mind, it is a smart move to consider how to use your employee wellness and productivity newsletter as a tool both to help them and to help your company. Employee newsletters can influence behavior, and it is from this vantage point that they derive their power as risk management tools.

Helping employees and helping your company are not diametrically opposed. Many people, especially some organized labor folks I know, would maintain that anything good for the company is inherently bad for employees. Bull. Let's take a look at how a newsletter article on a simple subject can become a powerful little piece to protect a work organization, even while it helps employees. See below.

Most employee newsletters help employees manage stress. That's a good thing. But if you are thinking strategically with your newsletter, you would write articles to help employees with stress, but keep the topics of stress focused on critical issues facing the workplace or its work culture.

Below is a simple article, and an example of addressing stress management by building resilience. Future stress anticipated in the company directly influenced the timing of the article. It's purpose is to help employees, but also the company in general.

(Yes, you can use this article in your current newsletter if you include "used with permission, by Daniel Feerst,

Building Resilience to Prepare for Stress

Don’t wait until you are on the skids with stress. Start beating it back before it arrives by building resilience. Building resilience is not a passing pop-psychology fad. The American Psychological Association has weighed in on the strategy and endorsed a 10-step approach.

How many of these tips do you follow? Which ones would be good to work on more?
  1. Build effective, supportive relationships with others.
  2. Avoid “catastrophizing” (seeing crises as insurmountable).
  3. View change as part of life, with new opportunities accompanying it.
  4. Be proactive. Move toward your goals. Don’t let things just happen to you.
  5. When faced with problems, act decisively. Don’t just go with the flow.
  6. In the midst of a crisis (or sometime soon after), ask yourself, “Can this event change my life for the better in some way?”
  7. Nurture a view of yourself that includes the ability to withstand adversity.
  8. Practice not zeroing in on the worst part about a crisis or adverse experience.
  9. During a tough time, practice looking forward to the hoped-for conclusion and resolution while avoiding the visualization of your worst fears.
  10. Take care of yourself by maintaining your physical and mental health, because this makes it easier to bounce back when adversity strikes.

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