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Our Perspective on Life, Leadership, and Engagement

Get the scoop from our consultants and creatives, as well as our clients and other thought-leading guests. In addition to our blog and video posts, don’t miss our popular podcasts — they’ve been heard regularly by thousands of leaders since 2012!
  • On the Engaging Leader podcast, we share communication and leadership principles, and tell stories that illustrate putting those principles into practice.
  • The Workforce Health Engagement podcast explores strategies to improve your employees’ health and productivity — and to protect your bottom line.

Pandemic Changes Workforce Trends — Three Types of Employees Highlighted in Gartner Data


Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, shared recent survey findings that may affect organizations’ HR strategies in the near future.

1. Remote working is here to stay. The Gartner poll says that 48 percent of employees are working remotely now, versus 30 percent before the pandemic. We expect many employers will continue this shift in the future, sustaining a larger remote workforce indefinitely.

2. Companies say they will begin to expand their relationships with contingent workers again. One of the headlines the virus created was huge unemployment. So initially, many employers reduced their contactor budgets. But Gartner’s analysis shows that 32 percent of companies are now rethinking that. Gig workers provide more staffing flexibility than full-time employees.

3. Essential is a new category of employee. What this means is that companies may be looking more at “what people do” and their skills than at their levels or position structures. Gartner says this will motivate HR to change employee and career development programs in the near future.

For a full list of “Nine Future of Work Trends Post-COVID-19,” read the article at Smarter With Gartner. A 12-minute read.

Give It Some Space Don’t Cram Too Much into Your Communication


White space is more than just a white space…it’s an excellent communication tool to help you eliminate useless clutter in your message, your layout, or your conversation.

In visual communication, white space means any area that is free from text, images, or embellishments. Space directs your eye and emphasizes your visual point. It also gives your audience the freedom to process your message. White space could simply be the margin and line spacing of your text…or even the spacing between the letters. Space can be created with a photo or solid color background. It can also be created with a border or by removing a border. Read more from Canva about 8 ways to design with white space. A 10-minute read.

You also can create space in your message. Say. It. Succinctly. Every word you use should have a purpose and a meaning to your message. You don’t need big words or many words. Just say what you mean. This is true in written and spoken communication. However, it doesn’t mean you need to be abrupt or insensitive. It doesn’t mean you can’t tell a story to make your point. It just means to be thoughtful in your word choice. Write your message. Walk away for a bit. Then, read what you wrote and cut unnecessary words.

Conversation can have space, too…it’s called silence. As you share your message, tell your story, or facilitate your meeting, pause. Allow listeners to process what you have to say. It helps improve understanding and gives them a chance to respond. If you talk, talk, talk without a pause … at some point … your audience will get bored or distracted and check out.

7 Tricks to Make Your Communication Sticky


Have you ever put time and effort into communicating something important, only to have people ignore or quickly forget about it? Does it drive you crazy to hear, “You never told us about that!”

Apply three or more of these tricks to each communication, and people will be more likely to notice, care, and take action.

· S: Simple – Make the core message clear. Try to answer the WIIFM question, “What’s in It for Me?”)

· U: Unexpected – Make people notice. Humor or surprising images often work well.

· C: Concrete – Make people understand. If the topic is abstract, be sure to provide concrete examples.

· C: Credible – Make people believe. Use a trustworthy spokesperson or provide compelling data and logic.

· E: Emotional – Make people care. Show how it affects real individuals, not just lofty principles or faceless groups.

· S: Stories – Make people act. A good story not only pulls people in, it can inspire the action you are asking people to take.

· S: Short – Make it easy to digest. Keep it “snack size,” or else people will feel overwhelmed and just skip over it.

This SUCCESS Model is adapted from the research and model in Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath.

Quick Checklist for Being an Empathetic Leader



Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

In challenging times like these, it’s even more important than usual that your workforce knows you are trustworthy and caring. Effective empathy is something you can develop through regular practice of these six skills:
• Curiosity: Take the time to be curious about what other people think. Try to fully understand their point of view.
• Authentic Listening: Most people don’t truly listen. Stop planning what you are going to say, and focus on really hearing their thoughts and feelings.
• Imagination: Think about what it would be like to walk in their shoes. What if you woke up one morning and found you had switched places in life with them?
• Vulnerability: Respectfully share your reactions and feelings about what the other person is saying to confirm your full understanding.
• Sensitivity to Others’ Emotions: Develop your “emotional radar” to pick up on what people are feeling by watching their body language and facial expressions. read more…

If You Want Your Message to Be Heard, It Needs to Look Good


The human brain is drawn to information that is visually pleasing and easy to understand. If you’re not using images, headlines, and whitespace to convey complicated concepts, chances are people will tune it out.

More than 50% of the cortex, the surface of the brain, is devoted to processing visual information. Some 93% of human communication is non-verbal. People process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
• Use photos to evoke emotion.
• Use whitespace to give the brain space to process the content.
• Use graphs and icons to break down complicated concepts.
• Use headlines and subheads so readers can skim the content for both the big picture and relevancy of a section.

213: Dealing with Challenging Employees when Building Courageous Culture | with Karin Hurt


Some leaders look at their people, shake their heads, and say, “They can’t get there from here.” Sometimes that’s true. But often the solution is creating a stronger culture, where employees are encouraged and coached to contribute their best thinking.

People are different, and these differences can add value. As a leader, you need to figure out the best ways to leverage the strengths of the human beings on your team.

In part 2 of this conversation with Karin Hurt about her newest book, Courageous Cultures, we talk about dealing with five additional types of people who present a specific challenge:

  • Just-Tell-Me-What-to-Do-ers: They consistently just want to be told what to do. 
  • Just-Do-What-I-Sayers: They are often successful and just want people to line up behind them and do what they’re told.
  • Let-Me-Do-My-Thing-ers: They are certain of their direction and methods.
  • Silent Wounded: They don’t trust you—and with good reason. They’ve been burned by previous leaders.
  • Silent Ponderous: They may be quiet introverts, but they have insights you desperately need.

Karin Hurt is the award-winning author of several books and an Inc. Top 100 leadership speaker. She provides leadership development programs for organizations around the world. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in customer service, sales, and human resources.


Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Subscribe on your favorite podcast app:

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What the Font? Things to Consider When Selecting a Typeface


The curve, openness, and spacing of a font are actual design elements and convey a look and feel. It’s important to choose a typeface that fits the design of the rest of your communication piece.

Readability is key for body text. Why pick a fancy font to be different if no one can read what you are saying? Typically, serif fonts score higher readability marks. A serif is a small line or “tail” at the end of the main strokes of a letter. Times Roman is an example of a serif font. Arial is an example of a sans-serif (no tail) font.

Each font family has many varieties—bold, italic, light, extra light, and more. But, everything does NOT have to be the same font. You can use one font for headlines and subheads and a completely different font family for body text. Caution: Too many fonts in the same piece can get busy.

If you operate in the design lane of workforce communication or marketing, you may want to know more about font innovations, changes, and trends. Here are nine of the most exciting typography trends of 2020 and how they are used in design.

Solve the Mystery of Successful Teams


“Psychological safety” may be a buzz phrase, but it’s a big deal. It means that members of a team feel comfortable in their team to be themselves, participate, share ideas, disagree, and even ask for help.

Organizational behavioral scientist Amy Edmondson of Harvard first introduced the concept and how it affects team success. She says the actions a leader takes can make or break the level of psychological safety among their team members.

• Be open; tell your people what’s going on.
• Be inclusive of everyone and encourage participation.
• Use positive language.
• Be respectful and appreciative.
• Give praise in front of others. Provide constructive feedback in private.
• Genuinely listen.

Need more specifics? Review this Harvard Business Review article. A 10-minute read.

Turn Doubt into Trust. Use these 4 Leader Behaviors in Meetings.


A team that trusts its leader is typically more productive, innovative, and successful. Team meetings provide an opportunity for a leader to practice and demonstrate the following four behaviors that build trust:


  • Plan ahead. Communicate in advance of meetings by providing an agenda and the list of who’s invited. This tells participants what to expect and sets the expectation that everyone come prepared, focused, and energized.
  • Welcome people into the conversation or room by name. Be ready in advance of any interaction. Don’t come late or even just on time to your own meeting. Don’t be distracted or multi-tasking as people join. Show them that the conversation is important and has your full attention.
  • Do a check-in or intros at the beginning of a meeting. Ask each attendee to say their name, position, and role if they don’t normally work together. Also, ask them to share something more human or personal. What has your attention today? What’s your favorite food? Any question or comment you have about the agenda? This gets the discussion started in a way that says, “Each person here matters, and I want to hear what you have to say.”
  • Actively encourage people to participate. You could say something like, “I want everyone to feel comfortable to speak up.” Or, “Let me know if you have another idea.” You could ask questions such as: “What do you think of that? Do you think that will work? What do you think others will say about that?”

212: Building a Courageous Culture that Facilitates Innovation and Problem-Solving | with Karin Hurt


“Why am I the only one who finds these issues? What’s wrong with my people? Why can’t they see this stuff and fix it?”

If these frustrations sound familiar, you’ll love this conversation with Karin Hurt about her newest book, Courageous Cultures. We talk about building teams of micro-innovators, problem-solvers, and customer-advocates working together. read more…

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