The Corporate Storyteller

Expert tips on management communications and the power of storytelling

Friday, August 12, 2011


Smart Companies Foster Informal Learning

Workforce studies have found that only 30 percent of essential job skills and knowledge are learned via formal training--generally in a classroom setting--with 70 percent gained informally through exchanges with co-workers, most often by swapping experiential stories). Now a report in Chief Learning Officer posits that "smart companies" are fostering informal learning; the author includes in that category such activities as reading books and participating in self-study programs, coaching, practice groups, expert communities and social media.

"In all of these examples," writes Harry West, "the employee is learning from another person and not training materials and they are participating in learning rather than just receiving information. Indeed, some experts estimate that 80 percent of learning is informal and takes place on the job. For a specific metric to gauge its success, employee engagement is a useful measure and can be found with social feedback mechanisms. Among the benefits of informal learning are increased innovation, productivity, and knowledge transfer."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Storytelling Supports Training Assessments

Investing in employee and leadership training not only helps to develop a company's current workforce but also attracts and retains more high-caliber people. David Conradie, director of human capital for Deloitte in New Zealand, addressed a "critical shortage of talent" in the country by offering ways for organizations to ensure ROI on training, including one ideally suited for storytelling.

First, Conradie says in an article in the Star-Telegram, it's essential for corporate training leaders to understand organizational goals so they can design programs that support the goals. Second, leaders must be able to clearly communicate what success looks like at each level of the company. (Storytelling is a perfect tool for accomplishing this.) Third, organizations need to conduct in-depth assessments of their leaders' abilities so they know exactly what the training and development needs are. These steps, in turn, lead to a more fully developed workforce, both current and future.

Monday, August 08, 2011


Training to Increase as Boomers Retire

At the same time that the boomer generation is retiring, the pool of skilled workers, especially in manufacturing, is shrinking. As a result, the need for training is expected to increase.

Companies in Cleveland already are investing in more training and other manufacturers in the Midwest are making similar plans. Don Johnson, vice president of Advanced Technology Services in Peoria, Ill., says training will be critical to ensure the next generation of full-time employees is prepared to replace those who are exiting the workplace.

Rick Capretta of ProTech Staffing Solutions in Mayfield Heights says that "there are not a lot of good people who aren't the talent pool is getting smaller, especially in this region."

Friday, July 29, 2011


How to Train Workers on the Move

Mashable reports that the workforce is increasingly mobile, with telecommuters and other remotely-based employees expected to comprise nearly 75 percent of the American workforce by 2013. According to market research firm IDC, nearly 35 percent of the global workforce will be working at remote locations in two years.

Mashable offers five tips for training those mobile employees:
1) Hire not only for relevant job skills but also for a demonstrated ability to collaborate and contribute when working at a distance from colleagues and managers.
2) Provide remote workers with all the necessary tools, e.g. e-mail, Internet access, phone, private networks, shared docs, wikis and logins to SaaS applications.
3) Require new remote teams to spend their first days or weeks at headquarters, using the initial visit convey company culture, set expectations, and build personal relationships and communication.
4) Schedule frequent check-ins to see if remote workers have questions and comments.
5) Center training and learning processes and programs on remote workers' routines and schedules, allowing them to review new materials on their own and at their own pace.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Learning Fosters Psychological Health & Retention

According to an article in Chief Learning Officer magazine, organizations that offer opportunities for growth and development not only enable employees to acquire knowledge, skills and abilities to apply in the workplace, but also can increase motivation, job satisfaction and the ability to manage stress. The artile reports on findings from an American Psychological Association (APA) study that found workplace training "improves organizational effectiveness [and] work quality, and the organization also can be positioned as an employer of choice" with very low turnover.  

David Ballard, head of APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program, says providing work-based learning "can attract and retain the best employees and that's what it takes to have a competitive advantage today." The findings are based on a survey of companies that researched employee involvement, health and safety, work-life balance, employee recognition and employee growth and develop. Among the eight recipients of APA's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards (PHWA), only six percent of employees organizations were looking for employment outside their companies. Among all the organizations studied, more than five times as many employees were looking for work elsewhere.

Here's what Ballad says it takes to provide a healthy work environment: 1) assessing what employees need and want, 2) tailoring practices to meet those needs, 3) tying compensation to company goals, and 4) evaluating results and feedback from employees to improve learning.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


SAS' Story on Being the Best to Work For

How does SAS sustain a culture of satisfaction, wellness and creativity that results in a turnover rate under three percent? According to one former SAS staffer, the employee benefits include private offices, an on-site childcare center, a healthcare center, and a fitness center. That's only part of the reason the company was named as Fortune's Best Company to Work For earlier this year.

Add unlimited sick and family sick days as well as flexible scheduling and you've got a package that results in long-term employees whose productivity contributes to the company's success. Although there will be some people who take advantage of the impressive benefits, the majority of employees reciprocate the trust the company places in them.

What about your company? Have you examined your business model and employee benefit offerings lately? How can you make adjustments that inspire creativity and keep employees healthy and happy?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


What Story Are You Telling to Retain Talent?

Around 40 percent of the technology and engineering workers polled by believe they can increase their pay levels this year by changing employers. Even though tech workers are still in high demand, wages have remained stagnant in the sluggish economy. As a result, they're "looking for more," says Tom Silver, a senior vice president at, a career website for technology and engineering professionals. He predicts that turnover will increase before year end.

Because many businesses are focused on maintaining a healthy bottom line in the challenging marketplace, they may be overlooking the potentially significant costs of higher turnover. Leaders who look ahead are already strategizing about how they can retain their best tech and engineering professionals.

How about your company? What are you doing to ensure that you hang onto the people who are most valuable? What story are you telling to remind them why they're better off to stay put?


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