Drishti of the Day: Tapas
August 12, 2021
Show Notes: Episode 123 – Write Right and Speak Smart (SHRM Credit)
August 16, 2021

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This transcript was created using an automated transcription service and may contain errors.


JoDee  00:09

Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing joy in the workplace. I’m JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink, an HR consulting firm. With me is my co-host, Susan White, owner of Susan Tinder White Consulting, an HR consulting practice.


JoDee  00:29

Our topic today is “Write Right and Speak Smart.” Susan, I’ve been wondering if the art of writing well, speaking smart, or just plain old good grammar is a lost art. That is, with spelling and grammar checks available to us when we are wrong, do we really need to learn it? I can tell you as a former seventh and eighth grade Martin County Spelling Bee champion, I’m disappointed in the lack of good spelling, [laughs] even with all those tools.


Susan  01:04

Yeah. I am so impressed that you were spelling bee champion. I think the pressure of it all would’ve just brought me to my knees, so well done.


JoDee  01:12

So, as… I tell you, I’m appalled at the lack of good grammar on social media. Some very well educated people I know, and even some teachers, seem to either have a lack of the knowledge of good grammar, or they just don’t take the time to correct their posts, which, that’s the part I’m hoping – I’m hoping they do do it and they just don’t correct it. But it seems like people don’t really care.


Susan  01:39

Yeah, I have to say that I wonder if the rules are just different as it relates to social media, and what we think is very important in our emails, and in our letters and our verbal communications. It seems like it’s a different day.


JoDee  01:51

Yeah. Which… I think the more we don’t follow the rules on social media, don’t you think that makes that more common place, then, that people might not worry about the rules or feel like they have to follow the rules either? And then…


Susan  02:09

I’m sure you’re right. I think it’s, like, how we present ourselves. And so thinking about if… if we, you know, take shortcuts, or we use poor grammar, that brand that we’ve talked about in a prior podcast, our brand, I think, is weakened and diluted. So I do think it’s worth the energy, the effort to talk about what we’re going to talk about today. How do we present ourselves as professionally and positively as we can?


JoDee  02:30

Right. I think, too, that it seems like the younger generation seems to have given up on handwritten notes or thank you notes. I know my nieces and nephews, when they get a birthday present or a gift, they’ll just send me a quick text. I should say my own kids, as well, too. They’ll just send me a quick text or they’ll send me a video, you know, so sending a handwritten note is just not very common anymore.


Susan  03:00

It is not. I know that’s something that you personally do, because I’ve gotten a number of them from you. So JoDee, I love your handwritten thank you notes, but I think it is a lost art.


JoDee  03:08



Susan  03:09

Now a word from our sponsors. We’re excited to tell you about our newest book, “The JoyPowered® Organization.” JoDee teamed up with fellow HR pros Megan Nail and Jeremy York to share research, ideas, stories, and experiences to help you build a positive organization with employees who have been empowered to find their joy.


JoDee  03:31

You will learn how intentionally focusing on areas like diversity, communication, total rewards, and more can inspire joy in your organization. Find out more about the JoyPowered organization and how to buy it at getjoypowered.com/books.


JoDee  03:53

So to help us learn more on this topic, we’ve invited back a very popular former guest: Linda Comerford. She joined us on episode number 72 to discuss enhancing your business communications, and also on episode number 99 to talk about emotional intelligence. Linda has been training for 30 years, specializing in written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills, including writing, written grammar, oral grammar presentations, and customer service. Many clients request her newest program, “Communicaring,” a unique series that can be customized for increased confident, competent, and compassionate communication. I think it’s so funny that Susan and I didn’t even know each other over 20 years ago, but yet Linda taught both of us, at separate organizations, business writing skills. So.


Susan  04:54

It’s amazing, I still hear her in my head when I’m trying to – [laughs] – to really fix an email. Like, what’s my purpose here?


JoDee  05:01



Susan  05:01

You know, I hear Linda’s voice. Welcome, Linda, we are so glad that you are back.


Linda  05:06

Thank you. I am delighted to be back.


Susan  05:08

Are people writing more and enjoying it less in the business world nowadays?


Linda  05:13

Susan, I am so glad you asked that. I can almost picture people listening to this podcast nodding their heads in agreement, even though we can’t actually see them doing that.


Susan  05:24

I’m gonna nod for all of them out there.


Linda  05:26

There you go. There you go. The three of us are sitting here nodding. Yes. And it’s really interesting, because as always, I’m a storyteller. And I know, JoDee, you like stories, too. So I’m going to start with a brief story to let you know why I’m so frustrated about all that’s going on regarding writing in the business world nowadays. Years ago, I used to teach a writing class at a Midwest university. All the students who became business majors had to take a variety of communication classes, and I would work with them on this 50 minute class. It was the most exhausting training I have ever done. I felt like a Southwestern flight attendant. I’d start an eight o’clock class, nine o’clock class, 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock, down till six o’clock at night, 50 minutes trying to teach people at the university there how to write differently in the business world than they do to satisfy their professors. And their professors – think back to college – really like it when their students write using big words. You know, how we’d go to a thesaurus to get a more multisyllabic word that would impress our professors and weave those into long sentences and even longer paragraphs. And that’s the way those students were getting an A academically. I wanted to show them the difference in business writing. I did this course for years, this program for years, until about two years ago, I got a text from the relatively new person in charge of that program saying, “By the way, Linda, we’ve removed your program from our communication series, because we did some research, we found out that people really aren’t writing at all in the business world anymore.”


JoDee  05:26



Susan  05:52

Oh my gosh.


Linda  06:56

Yeah. “Oh, gosh,” sums it up. “…or maybe just a little bit, but not enough to actually offer a workshop on that.” And I’m rarely speechless, but I was stunned at that university reaching that conclusion. So I’ve been… of course, my antennae have been up thinking, “Wait a minute, maybe people aren’t writing as much in the business world.” I knew that wasn’t true, but I started doing my own informal research, and then came COVID. And now, ladies, and everybody out there listening to this, instead of writing less, we’re actually writing more. Why? We can’t meet people at the water cooler, in the cafeteria. We just don’t run into people. People really don’t… aren’t talking on the phone either nowadays, which really surprises me. So what are we left with? We’re left with writing. And I’m sure you’ve all heard of Zoom fatigue. There’s actually now a kind of cousin to that called writing fatigue, or Microsoft Word fatigue, whatever. It’s just like Zoom fatigue. People are getting so tired of having to write so many emails. And what’s also happening with this version of writing fatigue… picture your own inboxes. You get up in the morning and you turn on your computer, and down come your emails for the day, a whole bunch of them. And you think “Oh my gosh, but I still have other ones to do.” So eventually, even the important emails you have to respond to keep drifting downward, kind of like leaves in the fall.


JoDee  08:36



Linda  08:36

And eventually you’re, like, weeks behind, because so many new emails keep pressing down on the emails you meant to write about yesterday or last week or whatever. So people are just overwhelmed trying to keep up with their busy calendars. Can you relate?


Susan  08:50



JoDee  08:51

That’s exactly how I feel in this moment, right now, Linda. I consider myself to be a very organized person, and yet lately, I just cannot keep up with my own email. I just can’t keep up.


Linda  09:06

Glad I’m touching a nerve with you, because it’s the same for me.


JoDee  09:09

Yeah. And Linda, I do have to laugh thinking how ironic it is that the university texted you [laughs] to say that the program was being discontinued. [Laughs] Like…


Linda  09:23

I might add – I can vent a little bit – that was two days before I was supposed to drive seven hours to this place to actually do that program. I just wrote to kind of touch base. “Looking forward to seeing you Wednesday.” “Oh,” she wrote back, “Didn’t I tell you? Six months ago, we decided we weren’t offering that again this semester.” That’s how it happened.


JoDee  09:42

Oh my gosh.


Susan  09:42



Linda  09:43

That is not a good way to write, let me tell you.


JoDee  09:47

Yeah, we could have a whole ‘nother podcast on that kind of communication. Right?


Linda  09:52

Too true. Yes.


JoDee  09:53

So Linda, how are schools equipping those in the business world to write more effectively and efficiently? I mean, if they’re dropping those types of courses, what’s happening out there?


Linda  10:05

To me, it’s… it’s very discouraging for the students, because just about everybody who was a business major had to take some form of a course called “business communications.” It was usually a jam-packed semester – sometimes if students were lucky, they would get two semesters – combining writing skills and presentation skills all in one class. So you’d write about something, then you’d speak about something. And that was a springboard to equip people joining the business world after college graduation, so that they could, again, adopt a business writing and presenting style versus an academic version. And even though students didn’t go out perfectly equipped to match what the business world was wanting regarding their writing and oral communication skills, at least they had a foundation for how to begin that they could build once they actually started their jobs. I’ve checked in with universities, and the rare university is now offering any kind of business communication class whatsoever. Their theory is either just not that much of it is required in the business world… This university actually did research of a lot of companies, and the companies wrote back and said, “No, our people aren’t writing anymore,” and that’s how they made that decision. I’d love to know which companies those were. I don’t know. But beyond that, they may think, “Ehh, they’ll just pick it up on the job as they go,” but the students really are not equipped. So then what happens? You get to these companies and surveys are done. What’s your biggest frustration with people? And they respond, “Our people just don’t know how to communicate in writing or in speaking.” And I can tell you a quick story again, about my daughter, who years ago went to a university that’s near and dear to my heart, Indiana University. Christie was an accounting major there in the Kelley School of Business. She’ll tell you, out of all the accounting classes that she took – and at that point, the program had actually expanded to, for all accounting majors had to take a five year program rather than just a four year program. What did they add in that fifth year? You know where I’m going with this, ladies. They added more accounting classes. But the most useful class for Christie was a little two credit class called “listening skills.” That’s something… I mean, we hear, but we don’t always listen. And they blended in a little bit of writing and speaking along the way. Two credit class, and she said, “Mom, I’ve learned more that helps me communicate in my career – and now she’s been in the business world for 20 years – with that two credit course than I did with any course on debits and credits. All companies have their own ways of doing accounting, but she said the listening concepts she received were universal and so helpful. So I would love to see universities offering just one class, two or three credits, just a little bit of basic, fundamental, foundational skills on how to write, some key grammar and punctuation rules like do you put a comma before “and” in a series of three or more. Very controversial rule to this day. The answer is yes. Otherwise, you can get sued. I mean, just basic, practical things that these students can rely on, because they’re going to be spending a lot of time writing and speaking, despite what that university may have thought from their research.


Susan  13:27

So it sounds like the university doors are shutting on this really important topic. But does that mean that employers really need to start thinking, “alright, I’m going to get folks that maybe have some technical expertise, but we need to think about some of these soft skills that are gonna be critical to our success”? And are you seeing businesses starting to incorporate business communications into, maybe, the orientation, the assimilation, onboarding of new hires?


Linda  13:52

They are getting very creative about doing that more and more, and I will be a little selfishly ironic here. When I did get that text, I said, “Well, job security for me.” Because if these universities…


Susan  14:03



JoDee  14:03



Linda  14:03

…aren’t offering these classes, that opens the door for me to do more… more workshops on it. And yes, Susan, all of the above is what they’re doing. Now what… I have not really seen it offered as part of the onboarding process, at least not with my clients, although I think it’s an excellent idea if any of you are listening and want to… want to take a note on that. [Laughs]


Susan  14:22

[Laughs] Yes.


Linda  14:23

I think that’s great. But I’m getting more requests for writing and grammar. And I never thought I’d be teaching oral grammar. I just didn’t even think that course could exist. But again, that came at a… at a client request, I guess, now, about 10 years ago. And I’ve been doing a lot of work on just how to use correct grammar and pronunciation, because, folks, you have in the business world, or in general, what I call a writing image and a speaking image. Let’s focus here on the writing just for a moment. Think about when, as I said, you start your day, you have your coffee, and all these emails flood into your inbox. Don’t you just scroll down and see various names… like, you will see Susan White. “Oh, I got an email from Susan. That’s awesome. I love to hear from Susan. I always figure out at a glance what she’s writing about. She gives bullet lists so I can write my responses to her questions right in, I don’t have to generate a separate email. She’s… She’s friendly. I mean, she’s a day brightener. I love hearing from Susan White.”


Susan  15:27

That’s what I think everybody says, yeah.


Linda  15:29



JoDee  15:29

Yeah, that’s what I say.


Linda  15:30

But then we see, “Oh, JoDee Curtis. Oh, my gosh. No!” [Laughs]


JoDee  15:37



Linda  15:38

JoDee’s just got her mouth wide open, like, “No, don’t use me in this example of that.” Don’t we have those people – not JoDee – where we just say, “Here we go again. Another… another email from Fred. You never figure out what Fred is even trying to communicate, what his point is. And I have to… that scroll bar on the side becomes as small as a hyphen, because he writes these two and three screenfuls of email words, I don’t know what he’s even trying to communicate to me, I hate hearing from Fred.” So you’ve got an image. Think about how you want people to react when your name pops up as the sender of an email to them. And think about how you can modify your writing, so they sit up and go, “Wow, I want to hear from Susan.” “Oh, no. Now I’m hearing from Fred.”


Susan  15:38



JoDee  16:25

Yeah. That… I love that. I never intentionally have thought about that before. Like, what might people think when they see they have an email from me? I love that.


Linda  16:37

Good. Thank you. Glad you do.


JoDee  16:38

Linda, Susan and I talked at the top of the podcast about, you know, all the tools out there for spelling and grammar and punctuation. So, since we have all those tools electronically, do people even think that’s important anymore, or…


Susan  16:56

A computer will catch it.


Linda  16:57

Well, I will tell you, just last week, I was doing a writing class, and someone said, “I think texting has ruined writing and grammar. Linda, what do you think?” Yeah, we think we can just dash down things any old way, not realizing that grammar rules are not there to be a problem for us to try and learn how to use them correctly. Instead, they’re a way to help us communicate more clearly with our readers. They’re… they’re there for a reason. Now, in terms of those tools. Yes, technology can help us. And years ago, people didn’t even bother to turn on their grammar or their spelling tool, because they thought, “Oh, gosh, it takes too much time to use those.” No, you can’t afford not to have those on. Now, in terms of spelling, the spell checker is fabulous. It catches so many mistakes. Despite using a spell checker, you still have to proofread what you’ve written. Let me tell you a story about a big waste of time when that did not occur. A company was having trouble with their customer service, so the manager pulled the team together and said, “Create a survey, send it out, we’ll find out what our customers want us to do, and we’re good to go.” So that happened, and the manager wrote what she thought was an email that said to that team, “Our customers are now satisfied with our customer service.” And that was supposed to be the end of that, right? Wrong. A few weeks later, the supervisor was walking past a conference room and looked in and saw that same team still together. She went and she said “Hi, what are you all doing?” And they said, “Well, we’re… we’re working on the customer service problem.” She said, “That was solved weeks ago. Why are you doing that?” And they said, “Because you told us to.” The supervisor thought she had written “Our customers are now satisfied with our customer service.” She actually wrote “Our customers are not satisfied.”


JoDee  18:52



Susan  18:53



Linda  18:53

I love your reactions. “Ohh.” That’s what that team thought with our customer service. “Now,” “not,” one little letter that, because of a lack of proofreading, look at all the time that was wasted. And… and time is money. So despite that, though, the spell checker does catch most of your errors. The grammar checker, on the other hand – I find this fascinating – catches only about 30% of your written errors. So does that mean that 70% it’s… grammar checker is wrong for 70% of the errors? No, it just means that you wrote things one way, your grammar checker says “you know, I think it might be kind of nicer if you wrote it a different way.” And what happens, especially, ladies, with people – and gentlemen out there – with people who don’t have this foundation of education that we’re talking about, they say, “I got a green underline. That means I did something wrong with my grammar. I have to fix it.” And I have seen people take what was really good as a start and change their sentences into ones that were way worse, thinking they were following the advice of the grammar checker. So I’m recommending you still use the grammar technology to help you, but remember, you’re smarter than any computer. Use it as a safety net, for maybe it’ll catch an occasional error. I, you know… I’m a grammar expert and it will still catch things like subject verb agreement errors for me, where I didn’t put an S on the end of a verb or whatever. And I’ll say, “Oh, wow, so good I had the grammar checker on.” But most of the time, you’re smarter than your grammar checker.


Susan  20:26



Linda  20:26

So trust yourselves, as well.


Susan  20:28

I love that. So Linda, you had mentioned oral grammar. How does oral grammar differ from written grammar, and how do you teach it differently?


Linda  20:36

It’s really interesting with oral grammar, because written grammar has lots of different things that can go on there, but with oral grammar, basically, you’re misspeaking, if you have any oral grammar issues, only five parts of speech. So that makes it a lot simpler, Susan, to do. You use wrong verbs. Now, some people, you know, it depends on on your level, the worst errors that you can do, misusing your verbs or saying things like “we seen,” and “we done,” and “we was,” those types of things. And… and those errors are prevalent all over the United States. So your verbs can be wrong. Pronouns, I am hearing more people throw out vague pronouns anymore, like “he” or “she,” and they’ve been talking about a couple of different people. And I’m saying, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. Whom are you referring to? We were talking about Susan and George, are you… and then Fred came in the picture. Who’s the he? Is it George or Fred?” “Oh, I thought I clarified.” People just throw pronouns out all over the place and assume you’re going to figure out whom it is they are referring to. So we have verb issues, we have pronoun issues. We have adjective and adverb issues, like “You did a real good job, JoDee, on pulling this podcast together.” No, JoDee, you didn’t do a “real” good job, you did a “really” good job. That’s the professional way to do it. I’m not going to get into all of the rules, just giving you the parts of speech. And then the last part of speech is prepositions. How many times nationwide do you hear people say, “Where’s it at?”


JoDee  22:05



Linda  22:05

“Where’s it at?” [laughs] does not give you a very professional sounding image, because of that little “at”… “at” tagging along at the end of the sentence. Just “Where is it?” So I teach verbs and I teach pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions. And it all comes together and people say, “Wow, I never realized that.” And that makes them sound more professional, gives them a… more of a professional image. But I find that I’m teaching more than just grammar. A lot of people, basically, I’d say their grammar is about 85% of the way there, but pronunciation? Before I started teaching oral grammar, I never realized how sloppy my pronunciation was. I was saying words like, “gonna,” “wanna,” “walkin’,” “talkin’,” “eatin’,” “drinkin’,” dropping my -ings. I didn’t even realize that. Now, I’m way more conscious of saying, “going to,” “walking,” putting my -ings on verbs. Instead of saying, “I’m talking ta ya,” “I’m talking to you.” So the concept I’ve come up with with that is I asked my people in my workshops to speak using “lip aerobics.” You know how we exercise to build up our bodies and our muscles, and that’s what happens when we exercise our bodies. Well, we want to exercise our mouths, our lips, our teeth, our tongues to be able to enunciate and pronounce words as clearly as possible. So when you speak with lip aerobics, that makes you sound as professional as you actually are. And think about it – when you’re doing a Zoom call, like right now, JoDee and Susan can both see my lips moving very, very carefully as I enunciate, including T’s on the ends of my words. Everything that I’m saying, they can see my mouth is moving. But if we were just on a regular phone call, and then people start to mumble and they start to stammer, and just kind of talking like this…. People can’t understand you. So speak with lip aerobics. Open your mouth, enunciate, speak, and pronounce, and you will sound more professional as a result. Make sense?


Susan  22:08

Sure does.


JoDee  22:12

I love it. Susan, we’ve got some homework to do with our lip aerobics here.


Susan  23:39

Yeah, [laughs] sounds fun.


Linda  23:42

JoDee, perfect. Your mouth moved perfectly. I could just see it.


JoDee  23:58



Linda  24:00

[Laughs] Every word.


JoDee  24:02

Linda, can you close us out with a few tips to write, edit, and speak more confidently, competently, and correctly?


Linda  24:36

For writing, the best tip I can give you is the word “short.” Readers don’t have time for long words woven into long sentences woven into long paragraphs, as I mentioned before. Quick tip. The average reader’s short term memory can hold on to about 16 words per sentence. You talked about homework, JoDee. All of you out there, maybe take a moment to go through your… your sent communications. Grab an email that has some length to it, and just for fun, start counting a few of the words in your sentences. I had one woman in a class one time who said, “Linda, you mentioned shorter sentences. I know I write short sentences. So I’m very proud of myself for that.” I said, “Great! That’s wonderful, Marsha.” At break, she went away, got a writing sample, came back, and said, “Oh, my gosh, I am so embarrassed.” And I said, “Why?” And she said, “I counted just the words in the first sentence of this letter.” She said, “Would you believe I had 32 words in that one sentence?” She said, “If you’d assigned me to write a 32-word sentence, I would have said ‘No, no, no, I can’t write a sentence that long.'” Yes, it’s easier to write longer sentences than shorter sentences. So, quick tip. Microsoft Word actually has a tool called “readability statistics.” If you activate it, that will tell you, on average, how many words per sentence you’re writing. I am not saying every word has to be 16 sentences… 16 words or fewer, just on average. But Microsoft Word’s readability statistics will tell you, on average, how many words per sentence you’re using. But if you want a simpler way to check that out, just read aloud what you’ve written, and if you have to hyperventilate to read one of your own sentences aloud because you’re gasping for breath, you have too many words in that one sentence. So shorter is a good way to go. Second quick tip. Please use bullets as much as you possibly can, or numbered lists. Those help you shorten your words, your sentences, your paragraphs, and they’re scannable. Just quick glance, and I can see three bullets, one, two, three. And as I used as an example earlier, writing back – how easy is it if Susan does use a bullet list where I can just slip in my responses to what it is she’s writing to me about? So your goal should be when you write that your readers can take a one and done philosophy toward your writing. I can read what you’ve sent through once, get the point, answer quickly, send my response, and get something off my to-do list that’s so overwhelming to me right now. So that’s… that’s some quick writing tips. As far as editing goes, just be aware of the value of rereading what it is you’ve sent out to catch those errors, like the difference between “not “and “now” and the meaning of a sentence with misusing those words to your readers. And I’ve come up with a tip recently that sounds kind of silly, but if you think about it, it actually works. When you write, you are writing as a writer, but you are writing to a living, breathing, functioning, live audience. So you need to switch your persona. After you’ve written your email, letters, reports, proposals, whatever, as well as you think you can possibly write them, you want to switch from being a writer to a reader. And the tip is – I’m in a swivel chair right now – literally turn around in your chair. I’m doing it right now. Swivel around completely, and then say “Okay, I am no longer Linda Comerford, writer, I am now my audience,” whoever that audience might be. So if I were writing to Susan and JoDee, I would become Susan and I would become JoDee. And I know Susan and JoDee, just from – we go back to the ’80s – communicating with them for years. I know how to write to them. I know one tip when you write to JoDee Curtis, and I think JoDee is going to react to this. JoDee likes things as short as possible. She does not want a lot of extra details. If she needs them, she will ask for them. So I will go through, if I’m writing to JoDee, and realize, well, I put way too much detail in there. Gosh, she’s never going to read through all this. What does JoDee really want or need at this point in time? And I revise with JoDee in mind. I might do something a little bit different when I’m writing to Susan. So the more you can get into the eyeballs of your readers, as you’re editing for length, as you’re editing for clarity. I’m not writing as Linda Comerford. Boy, if I could write to JoDee – Linda Comerford, I’d have three screens full. JoDee’s just gonna need three bullets, and I will then revise.


JoDee  29:24

JoDee wants short and bullets, I can tell you. [Laughs]


Linda  29:28

That’s what I’ve learned about you.


JoDee  29:30



Linda  29:30

So just reading from the eyeballs of your reader – how will your different readers respond? – is the best tip I can give you for that, and of course have your grammar checker on, as well. And then as far as speaking goes, I’ve already mentioned what I think is the best tip for that. Do your lip aerobics. Slow down and enunciate. Think of others. It’s not about you. It’s about your audience. Did those tips help?


JoDee  29:55

Love it.


Susan  29:56

Very much so. Linda, how can our listeners reach out to you for coaching and/or training on communication skills?


Linda  30:03

I would just love to hear from all of you. Yes, what you can do is you can write to me at my email address is Linda at comerfordconsulting.com. And Comerford is spelled C-O-M as in Mary-E-R-F as in Frank-O-R-D as in dog. Linda at comerfordconsulting.com. Or if it’s easier, you can simply text me or call me on my cell. My cell number is 317.696.4444. 317.696.4444. Fair warning, I’ve had a lot of people tell me when they write to me, because I’m a writing expert, they get very nervous and they think I’m going to edit [laughs] what they’ve written. I promise I will not. I will accept whatever you write me with gratitude. Love to hear from you.


JoDee  31:01

Thanks for joining us.


Linda  31:02

I’m happy to give you the tips. I hope they help you write right and speak smart, now and in the future.


Susan  31:08

Thank you, Linda.


Linda  31:09

You’re welcome. Bye bye.


Susan  31:11

Now a word from our sponsors. JoDee, I’ve been talking to a lot of people who say the pandemic has left them feeling a bit lost and unmotivated.


JoDee  31:20

Yes, me too, and I sense there’s a desire to get back on track. One of our repeat podcast guests, Dr. Saundra Schrock, CEO of Levelhead, just released her latest book, “Thriving in a Global Pandemic and Beyond,” and it really addresses what we’re all feeling.


Susan  31:42

What I like is that it’s a handbook, really. You don’t have to read it cover to cover. Just jump to the topic that interests you most, whether that’s stress, focus and attention, relationships, healthy habits, and more. Each chapter helps you understand the why as well as the how, with over 100 brief self care practices included.


JoDee  32:03

As listeners, use the code JOY20 – that’s J-O-Y-2-0 – for a discount of 20% off the paperback version. Employers are even purchasing for their employees during this time of transition. Find it on getlevelhead.com – that’s getlevelhead.com – to order today.


Susan  32:31

Our listener question actually came from a friend of ours this week. She’s taking on a manager role for the first time and was stepping into her first meeting, which she knew was going to be difficult. The group was angry about some upcoming issues, and she really wanted to go in there and do a good job. JoDee, I know she spoke to you about this. What advice did you give her?


JoDee  32:52

I talked to her about the importance of listening, right? I mean, she knew going into it that they were upset. And I think so many times that people… when they’re upset, they want to be heard, and they want to be able to use their voice. So I encouraged her to just listen as much as she could and to even take notes – or, to be honest, to just act like she was taking notes. [Laughs]


Susan  33:19



JoDee  33:19

Because I think that’s a sign of showing that you’re listening, right, when… when you’re writing things down, that… that someone is capturing that information. I also encouraged her to ask them for ideas and solutions. So before she jumped in, she felt like she knew the answer, you know, and… and the responses she could give before she ever got into the meeting. But that’s – I encouraged her to listen, to take notes, and to ask them for their ideas and solutions before she jumped in with her own. I also encouraged her to ask them about, you know, with… Susan, we both have positivity, so we like to look for the positive in the situation. And I encouraged her to ask them questions about what is working well, what do they like about this new situation, what… to sort of shift their mindset, right? To think about not just what they were mad about, but what was exciting or new or interesting to them about the change, as well.


Susan  34:34

I think that’s great advice. And I think she needs to remember that they put her in a manager role for a reason and to bring her natural strengths. And I love the listen first, take notes, ask for their solutions, and try to get them on a positive wavelength. Really good advice.


JoDee  34:50

In our in the news section today, Stephen Miller wrote a May article for SHRM Magazine, and he stated that the COVID-19 pandemic drove more employers to offer voluntary benefits, and now employee pay all benefits are expected to play a greater role after the pandemic. I was kind of surprised by this, or I just hadn’t thought about it, I guess, so I thought this was so interesting. According to the findings from consultancy Willis Towers Watson, 94% of large employers believe that voluntary benefits will be more important to their total reward strategy. I think it’s hard to get 94% of anything…


Susan  35:36



JoDee  35:36

…or any companies to agree. So that was a pretty powerful number.


Susan  35:41



JoDee  35:41

And that was compared with 36% of employers who said they were important back in 2018. So a huge… like, tripled responses on this.


Susan  35:54

I have to think it must be the war on talent that the world is facing right now, that businesses are figuring out what more can we do to make our place of employment more attractive, and voluntary benefits might just be one of those areas that we can do, we can… we can leverage.


JoDee  36:08

Right. So Susan, I thought we could share with our listeners what those five fastest growing benefits are. Number one was identity theft protection plans. So currently, 53% of employers offer them, but by 2022 and later, they expect that to be 78%.


Susan  36:29

Number two is hospital indemnity plans. Currently, we’re at 42% of businesses offering it. By 2022, they’re anticipating 65%.


JoDee  36:39

And pet insurance plans are currently 47%, projected to be at 69%.


Susan  36:47

And number four is critical illness plans – currently at 57%, projected to grow to 76%.


JoDee  36:54

And finally, group legal plans. Currently at 58%, expected to be up to 75%.


Susan  37:04



JoDee  37:05

Yeah, it was interesting information. Thanks for tuning in today and make it a JoyPowered® day.


Susan  37:13

Thank you. If you would like SHRM recertification credit for listening to this podcast, please visit getjoypowered.com/shrm. You’ll find an evaluation of the podcast and once you complete the evaluation, you will see the SHRM recertification credit code and a link to a proof of participation certificate. Again, that’s getjoypowered.com/shrm. Thank you for listening and thanks for your dedication to the HR profession.


Susan  37:42

Thank you for listening. If you liked the show, please tell your friends about it and let us know what you think by rating and reviewing us on Apple Podcasts.


JoDee  37:51

You can learn more about JoyPowered® at getjoypowered.com. Check out The JoyPowered® Shop, where you can order our books, journals, and other items that power our joy, at getjoypowered.com/shop. We’re @JoyPowered on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter and you can email us at joypowered@gmail.com.


Susan  38:19

We hope you tune in next time. Make it a JoyPowered® day.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller
Emily works behind the scenes at JoyPowered, helping to edit and publish the books, producing the podcast, and running the website and social media.

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