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Linda Pophal, MA, PCM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is the founder and owner of Strategic Communications, LLC, and a technical expert in HR, marketing and communications with expertise in HR and employee relations, strategic planning, B2B content marketing, PR/media relations, and social media. Her background as a freelance business journalist, advertising copywriter, and corporate communication professional provides the foundation for understanding how to produce and use high-quality, personalized content to inform, motivate and engage audiences. She specializes in HR/employee relations, marketing, digital marketing, small business/entrepreneurship, and healthcare topics.
Linda is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and is accredited through the American Marketing Association and the Society for Human Resource Management (SPHR and SHRM-SCP). She is a digital marketing specialist with the State of Wisconsin's Center for Business Intelligence and Purdue University.
Articles across a wide range of publications and client sites from SHRM to SAP, HR Daily Advisor, Visier, Information Today, and more. Topics range from human resource management and employee relations, to digital marketing, technology, and more.
AI, including tools like generative AI chatbots, has the ability to answer a wide range of employee questions, create high-quality written and visual content, and even engage with customers. This has many employees asking themselves: “If my employer can benefit from replacing me with AI, why shouldn’t I use AI to perform my work myself?” In other words, what’s wrong with employees using AI to perform their work for them?
Pay transparency is a hot topic in HR circles these days, with state and local governments pushing—or requiring—organizations to be open about their pay practices when posting jobs and to report on their pay practices regularly. What's more, many organizations are adopting such policies voluntarily. This can be a huge burden for HR teams, especially in very large organizations. But technology can help.
Many companies espouse commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) these days, but they face challenges—such as hybrid or remote work models that can open doors for some but exclude others. Here are some best practices for ensuring DE&I efforts aren't diminished or minimized in a hybrid or remote work environment.
Cannabis-related businesses face several regulatory and compliance issues that impact their HR practices. The quickly changing regulatory and legal landscape can be challenging to comply with, particularly when it comes to payroll. But there are other implications, as well,
There are a wide range of social media channels available to today’s marketers. There are so many that it can be challenging to decide which to use—and how to use them most efficiently and cost-effectively. Yes, there are costs involved in posting to social media, even if you do it yourself. Time is money, and, especially for do-it-yourselfers, time spent on social media means an inability to spend it on other potentially higher-value activities that uniquely require your expertise.
The process of signing up for benefits options during open enrollment has largely been automated, with online enrollment platforms replacing paper forms. Now, more employers are seeking to improve the online enrollment experience by adding decision-support tools and guides to make the process more user-friendly.
Managers can sense and respond to employees’ mental health needs by making services accessible, relieving workplace pressure, and supporting their people’s work-life balance, while also taking care of themselves.
With inflation on the rise and talk of an upcoming recession, "you need to educate your employees so they can make the best choices for this year," said Jennifer Benz, senior vice president and communications leader at Segal Benz, a San Francisco-based employee benefits consulting firm.
The fact that Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta should send a signal about what at least one tech company sees for the future of digital interactions. The metaverse is an increasingly talked-about topic that refers to an alternate reality online—blurring the lines between the physical and digital environment. The implications for HR are significant.
Internal transfers can represent potential risks that organizations, their HR leaders and managers must understand and avoid. Here we take a look at the risks and how to successfully manage internal transfers to benefit both employees and the company.
Employees' needs—and the ways that organizations are driving benefits enrollment decisions to meet those needs—have changed over recent years. The pandemic, a tight labor market, hybrid work arrangements and a renewed focus on employees' emotional well-being have altered the benefits packages that employers are offering.
Manager burnout is a problem we ought to talk more about. We hear a lot these days about the “Great Resignation,” but much of the focus is on frontline workers and independent contributors. There’s another group that is equally, if not more, at risk of resignation—managers. Managers have been facing significant stress and dealing with constant change and challenges over the past two years and the situation doesn’t look like it’s going to improve significantly any time soon.
Imagine hiring a new employee who, when she showed up to start the job, was not the same person you had interviewed. That may be happening more often than you think. On June 28, the FBI issued a public service announcement indicating that the number of complaints it's receiving for this problem is increasing.
Last year, Harvard Business Review reported that employers giving their workers paid time off to volunteer their services for charitable nonprofits and socially responsible causes, and otherwise offering to facilitate and support employees' volunteering activities, was one of the few employee benefits that has increased in recent years.
Technology advances rapidly and, when it does, it's tempting to invest in new—or replacement—technology. The next best thing is always on the horizon. But company budgets are tight, and leaders want to be certain they are making the right investments in new technology. How are HR professionals taking steps to prove that their investments in technology are paying off?
Chatbots hold a lot of potential for connecting with customers in cost-effective ways, triaging customer requests or inquiries, addressing customer service issues, and more.
The ability to retain top talent is top of mind for employers, HR professionals, managers and supervisors in companies of all kinds across all geographies. As they frantically struggle to find reliable fixes that can help them minimize talent loss, potential relief may be available from a solution they might not have considered—artificial intelligence, or AI.
This blog highlights insights from marketers who share how they boosted their odds of finding genuine experts. The best practices for finding and vetting sources ensure they represent them and their brands well.
It’s fair to say that professionals of all stripes have been and continue to be massively impacted by a wide range of changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, circumstances fraught with both opportunities and challenges. Marketers, arguably, could take a place at the top of the list of professions impacted by these factors. So what are these impacts and how will they play out this year and next? What trends are emerging that marketers need to follow as they seek to set themselves and their pro
Forget everything you thought you knew about generational differences in the workplace. What may have been true prior to the pandemic is likely not true anymore. Sentiments have shifted among employees of all ages, and within all levels of the organizations they work for, because of the extreme disruption in their personal and work lives since early 2020.
An "intrapreneurship" program, which lets employees act like entrepreneurs by developing new products or services, is an unconventional benefit that can help boost productivity and retention. Intrapreneurship also offers career development opportunities—something that many employees crave today and that drive decisions about whether to stay with an employer.
"Digital transformation" is a phrase that's tossed around a lot these days. But what does it mean? And, specifically, what does it mean for HR professionals? There's a good chance that digital transformation efforts are taking place in your organization. If they're taking place without you, or if you have a role on the sidelines, these initiatives may be doomed from the start.
Arming managers with accurate, up-to-date, reliable data to inform their people decisions seems like a no-brainer that any organization would be eager to do—and many are. Getting data rapidly in the hands of decision-makers can help them make better decisions. But data democratization can be a challenge and different companies will approach the process differently based on their unique cultures, size, and data needs.
Gamification in the workplace today can run the gamut from traditional analog activities like scavenger hunts to high-tech, AI-fueled interactions incorporating augmented or virtual reality. Whatever the format, research supports the idea that gamifying learning works.
Chatbots can play a role in augmenting or even replacing person-to-person interactions between employees (or potential employees) and HR staff. More HR leaders are considering and adopting conversational AI technology. In fact, Gartner has predicted that by 2023, 75 percent of HR inquiries will be initiated through conversational AI platforms.
While influencer marketing often seems to be a factor of the digital age, it’s a concept that has been around for decades—ever since people began selling products and looking for ways to spread the word. In the digital environment, influencer marketing can be both more challenging and riskier. Marketers have only to do a search for “influencer marketing lawsuits” to learn about thousands of lawsuits that have been filed against influencers—and the companies that have used them.
About 60 percent of Americans diagnosed with substance use disorder are working. But while there are certainly many rewards to be gained by offering employee benefits that address substance misuse, there are also some potential risks.
There’s an old saying in marketing that goes something like this: “I know that half of my advertising works; I just don’t know which half.” That lament has long been the bane of marketers in both traditional and digital environments. Those in the digital world, though, are fortunate that technology offers them advanced means of gaining precision around what works and what doesn’t.
"The robots are taking our jobs!" is by now a not-unfamiliar lament in many workplaces. And in truth, we've all been exposed to situations where technology is taking the place of people—self-checkout lines in grocery stores, chatbots that ask and answer questions on various websites, software that does the job of some accountants and tax preparers, and the list could go on. But is technology replacing employees, or is it helping them?
Remote and hybrid work during the pandemic uprooted many policies and procedures that companies had long held to, such as requiring employees working from home to ensure they weren't also caring for others while doing so. During the pandemic, as employees became responsible for home-schooling children or caring for immediate or extended family members, they and their employers discovered that they could be productive while juggling work and home responsibilities.
When writing an article, looking for podcast guests, conducting research, or doing any activities that require expert input and insights, Google is an obvious starting point. However, in a digital environment, it’s easy for literally anyone to establish a presence as an authority on something. A well-designed website does not an expert make. What does?
As prevention guidelines adjusted and vaccines became more available, employers began calling employees back to work. Many were startled to find that some employees simply didn’t want to come back, and others had taken positions elsewhere. Suddenly they found they needed to drastically modify their recruitment strategies to get results in this new environment. Employers around the country found themselves faced with what has come to be called the Great Resignation, and an employee-driven market
The metaverse may be the talk of 2022. I receive at least three to five emails a week that have “metaverse” in the subject line—including “Willy Wonka, Chocolate Rivalries, & the Metaverse,” “Preparing for the Metaverse Shift in How We Work,” and “Bring Your Love to the Metaverse With Personalized NFT Jewelry From MYKA.”
Vaccines are one tool in management policies that organizations can use to promote healthy workforces and strong ties to customers and communities. Here’s a guide for how to approach the issue.
Companies gather masses of data to drive their decision-making, but not all data are relevant or reliable. Much depends on how that data is being defined, gathered, entered and accessed. For better reliability, some companies are taking steps to create enterprise-level taxonomies—organizational structures and rules around how data is categorized.
The work environment has changed significantly in many ways since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Hiring teams have subsequently changed the questions they are asking to assess candidates' knowledge, skills, abilities and potential fit. Not surprisingly, HR professionals, recruiters and hiring managers have found some new areas of importance to consider when interviewing candidates for jobs during the pandemic—and for the foreseeable future.
Apprenticeship-style programs offer a “try before you buy” approach for both employers and employees. Employers benefit from a new source of talent: the increasing number of people who lack a four-year degree – or can’t afford one. Employees benefit from free training and the opportunity for career advancement. Whether following the traditional model or some modern variation, apprenticeship programs can supply talent pipelines and expand opportunities for women and people of color.
Successful programs designed to employ neurodiverse candidates raise awareness among employees of the effort and make important alterations to the recruiting and onboarding processes as well as adaptations to communications and management approaches. The investment is worth it as companies benefit from the achievements, skills, experiences, and unique perspectives of individuals they might otherwise overlook.
At first glance, the promise of unlimited PTO seems too good to be true; too often, that may be the case. If badly implemented, employees may view unlimited paid time off as a 'scam.'
Consumer trust is on the wane across a variety of organizations—from the media to government organizations, to large corporations. While many feel confident in saying trust is on the decline, Edelman has been researching trust in organizations since the turn of the century and has proof in their 22nd report: the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer.
The Great Resignation has been a hot topic in business and HR circles for several months now. Visier predicted it would kick into full force in the summer of 2021—it did, and it hasn’t relented since then. With a jaw-dropping one-third of the workforce quitting their jobs in 2021, the seismic ripple of the resignation wave has grown into a tsunami. There is no going back to before—the world of work has undeniably changed.
Apprenticeships offer a “try before you buy” model that supplies needed labor and expanded opportunities for a diverse population.
Most companies today—especially during what is being called the “great resignation” would likely tell you that one of their most valuable assets is their employee base—the people who work for them. And yet, despite the fact that so many companies espouse this sentiment, how often does the head HR professional in the organization sit at the senior leadership table or participate in board meetings on a regular basis? How often are “people reports” given the same priority as “financial reports?”
The difference between AI and traditional marketing automation is that in the past people had to tell systems what to do through human programming. AI is based on the concept of machine learning—the AI itself makes decisions and becomes more “knowledgeable” with every interaction it has.
A sharp rise in the availability of telehealth benefits has opened up new opportunities for mental and behavioral health counseling, as well as challenges for health care providers, employers and employees.
Hashtags allow marketers to tag their content to attract the attention of users who may be interested in a certain topic; additionally, users are able to follow hashtags related to their personal areas of interest. They can be generic terms such as #love, brand-specific terms such as #CocaCola, or ambiguous terms (which social media users really need to click on to determine their specific meaning) such as #smilingfood.
If communicating the ins and outs of employee benefits was difficult before the COVID-19 pandemic, it's even more so now, as employees are often far-flung and struggling with new work/life challenges.
Content generation tools are an emerging way for content creators of all kinds to get an artificial intelligence (AI) assist. These tools—like Jarvis, Writesonic, Concured and more—are being used by news organizations and others to automatically generate content. The technology is still somewhat new and somewhat clunky, but it holds promise. In fact, organizations like the Associated Press have been using this technology for a few years now to generate content of various kinds.
Pandemic restrictions can make it difficult to hire employees who have never had the opportunity to visit the physical location where they will work. Particularly in a competitive hiring environment, employers want to do everything they can to provide potential employees with a good feel for what it would be like to work for the company.
It may surprise you to know that ghosting is increasingly common. A new Visier survey on ghosting in the workplace in both the U.S. and the U.K. revealed an uptick in the practice—both on the part of employers and employees. An overwhelming majority of U.S. job seekers admitted to ghosting an employer or potential employer in the past 18 months with 37% saying they’ve ghosted an employer, 30% saying they’ve ghosted a potential employer, and 10% saying they’ve ghosted both.
Marketers today benefit from a wide range of data available to them literally at their fingertips. Theoretically, that data should provide them with insights to help improve their marketing efforts and maximize profitability. But data can be misleading, and the decisions made based on that data can be flawed.
In a hybrid work environment, even traditional benefits like time off have taken on new meaning—employees working from home have been less likely to use up their sick or PTO time. As employers and their benefit advisors look ahead to 2022 they’re considering, and making, some shift in what and how they offer benefits to their employees. One primary area of focus driven by pandemic experiences—appreciating the value of time.
The United States (U.S.) is one of the wealthiest and most advanced countries on the planet, yet it has no formal paid family leave laws or policies in place to ensure employers are supportive of their employees beyond the 12-weeks of unpaid time off for parents “at all public agencies, all public and private schools and at all companies with 50 or more employees,” according to ABC News.
Amid the pandemic, mental health and substance use disorders have worsened, in some cases significantly. Of particular concern is the rising rate of opioid addiction and related deaths.
We are now in one of the tightest labor markets in memory, and all industries are feeling the pressure. Companies are getting increasingly desperate, but desperation can spark new ways of thinking about how to fill vacancies. Often overlooked are retirees, who represent a largely untapped source of promising talent to help stem the impacts of the Great Resignation.
A key element of diversity, equity, and inclusion is finding ways to not only hire more diverse workers but also elevate them within their organization. For Shameka Young, VP and Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at Cognizant, leveraging the company’s focus on affinity groups, targeted hiring, and other practices have been key factors in the success of its diversity initiatives.
The HR function is relatively new in the world of work and, given its relatively brief tenure, it’s undergone remarkable change over the years—especially during the past 10 to 20 years and, of course, even more so over the past 18+ months as companies of all types and sizes have grappled with the pandemic and how to serve employees, customers, and other key stakeholders in new ways.
In the marketing world, they're known as customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. In HR, they're referred to in other ways—for example, candidate relationship management or employee relationship management (ERM) platforms—and often integrated with an applicant tracking system (ATS), but the concept is the same. They're platforms that leverage technology to connect with an audience—in this case potential employees—in ways that drive talent acquisition and retention.
Workers with employer-sponsored health care often struggle to understand the benefits available to them. They seek support both for choosing appropriate benefits plans and for navigating through the health care system with their coverage. Ill-informed health care decisions drive up health care costs and are detrimental to employees' health and well-being. Online health care navigation platforms aim to help employees make better health care choices.
It’s been widely reported that the pandemic and its related impacts on home and work life have created a great deal of stress for employees who are increasingly at risk for alcohol and other substance abuse. In traditional work settings, managers and others have “line of sight” over employees where erratic behavior can be observed. With more employees now working from home, though, is there the potential that some might engage in drinking or substance abuse while on the job?
Fueled by the pandemic and the challenges faced by employers to find and retain staff, virtual human resources assistants are seeing a resurgence. Having good tech tools can be like having extra HR staff members on hand to do administrative tasks. This lets leaders tackle higher-level, more strategic priorities.
Wouldn’t it be great if technology could play a significant role in helping create copy to meet a seemingly insatiable demand for more content? It can, kind of. AI tools and natural-language generation are being used by a growing number—and range—of content developers.
Companies talk a lot about market share and engage in a wide range of activities designed to build or increase it. But there’s another important “share” on which they should also be focused—wallet share or share of wallet (SOW). It can be a leading indicator of market share and can be a metric to identify opportunities to impact customer satisfaction, but it has important relevance of its own.
As the American population continues to diversify, so, too, does the distribution of wealth and business ownership. Potential depositors and borrowers are increasingly likely to be people of color. Banks that don’t look like or think like this emerging audience are less likely to attract diverse clientele than those that meaningfully embrace diversity. Mike Sebring gets it.
The ability to work from home is a big boon for many employees with disabilities. They may still face barriers, though, during the talent acquisition process and beyond. Those barriers can lead to costly lawsuits—and reputational damage.
A predicted massive outflux of employees is already beginning to be felt in some organizations. Employees of all kinds from companies of all sorts have gotten a taste of the flexibility and work/life balance that working from home has provided. Many are loathe to return to the physical workplace. Many have also had plenty of time to think about their careers and the companies they work for—what they like, what they don’t—and what they would rather be doing. This has created an environment in wh
One of the many obstacles that get in the way of greater diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the corporate world is what is known as the pipeline problem. While there is controversy over whether the problem is a significant impediment to D&I efforts or simply a convenient excuse, the general premise is that diversity at the highest levels of organizations is lacking because there isn’t enough diversity at the lower levels of organizations. The reason there isn’t sufficient diversity in organization
Today, in most U.S. organizations, the power resides at the top and is shared between a select few. For modern businesses to be truly effective in the long term, though, they must harness the value of the input that employees can provide—sharing that power with them. In this manner, employees will, in essence, be better developed and better positioned to step into leadership roles. Roles that current research says are desperately needed to ensure enough leaders for the future, and the present.
The ability to work remotely was a coveted fantasy of millions of workers for years before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the hands of employers around the world and made it a reality. Previously in-office workers often dreamed of working from bed in their pajamas or possibly even an Italian villa or tropical beach and without their managers constantly looking over their shoulders.
One of the top concerns for managers with respect to widespread remote work was that employee productivity would suffer, in part due to the related concern that the ability of managers to oversee subordinates would be diminished if they weren’t physically in the same location.
Gig work—project-based assignments performed by people operating as independent contractors—became more prevalent as the COVID-19 pandemic led rising numbers of employees to leave traditional full-time jobs. But the shift toward a gig-dependent economy predates the public health crisis and is expected to continue post-pandemic.
Imagine this: One of your employees, now working from home, has established three side businesses that do the same type of work your company does and serve the same types of customers. They're running their businesses during the hours you're paying them to work for you. They're using your databases to access information to help them sell their services online. Worse, they've actually contracted with some of your other employees to help them run these businesses.
Suspicious employers and their managers who still ascribe to the “out of sight and out of mind” concerns about managing a remote workforce and seek to use Machiavellian measures to monitor remote work performance may be turning off employees and sending them looking for job opportunities elsewhere in an already tight labor market. So how can companies effectively manage productivity in a hybrid workforce?
Cafeteria plans are getting new attention during the pandemic as a way to let employees select—and fund with pretax dollars—optional insurance benefits and spending accounts that meet their health and caregiving needs.
Employers have long recognized the role they can play in providing resources and support for employee wellness—initially to manage rising health care costs, but there are other impacts as well. Successfully managing employee wellness can positively impact absenteeism, productivity and turnover.
In most organizations, the human resources (HR) department tends to be thought of as “owning” the employee experience and everything related to employee engagement, satisfaction, productivity, etc. In truth, though, people issues are everyone’s responsibility, from senior leaders through front line supervisors.
There’s an old saying: A picture is worth a thousand words. It’s so trite, but it’s true, especially for moving pictures (i.e., videos). However, not all content marketers are equally adept at communicating via video. And their experience level varies widely. In this column, I take a look at some commonly asked questions and provide insights from experienced video marketers.
If the user experience (UX) on your website isn’t optimal, you could be missing out on visitors and engagement—and revenue. What are the top pain points when it comes to engaging users who come to your site? What are the biggest barriers or turnoffs? How can you discover what may not be working well on your site? What should you do to improve your site’s performance? Can you take a DIY approach, or should you hire a UX firm?
In the current digital environment, there are many options for mobile apps that can help streamline communications and ensure that employees and managers stay connected with their teams, colleagues and others. From enterprise tools like Slack, to free apps and plug-ins, HR professionals are making use of a wide range of apps as they continue to navigate a new work reality.
As workers return to their physical workplaces, there's one group of workers that deserves special consideration: those who were hired during the pandemic and have never been physically present at the worksite, nor engaged face-to-face with their colleagues or managers.
The gig economy was already exploding prior to the pandemic, but the gig economy changed during COVID in ways that are likely to continue well into the future. Businesses that previously thought face-to-face interactions were the only way they could conduct business had to suddenly pivot and become more open-minded and innovative about how they would interact with customers—and employees.
SHRM and others have predicted a “turnover tsunami” that is expected to unfold over the next several months as employers begin to call workers back into their physical settings. Visier’s research also supports the likelihood of this exodus which has already begun to be felt at many organizations. Over the past several months employees have gotten a taste of the freedom and flexibility that working from home can provide. During this time they’ve also had ample time for reflection.
The dark funnel is a concept that has been making the rounds for some time now in sales circles. The term refers to the often-veiled insights marketers might fail to uncover as they attempt to understand the customer journey. While the digital marketing environment yields some powerful insights into consumer actions, some of these actions, like visits to other websites, research conducted through third-party sites, social media impacts, etc., might be hidden from marketers.
Companies crave content—high-quality, timely, and accurate content that is brand supportive and designed to connect and compel target audiences to some desired action. To achieve these goals content providers, publishers, and organizations must establish content review processes. These processes generally involve multiple touchpoints, and many eyeballs, reviewing content for a wide array of reasons—from grammar, spelling, and style compliance, to SEO, content accuracy, and more.
It can be extremely expensive to feed the constant demand for content from a wide range of audiences. Content marketing has become a major industry in the 21st century, with companies of all types and sizes working hard to produce content to help them distinguish themselves from competitors as they attract and engage audiences that can represent potential customers.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a very important consideration in today’s digitally-driven content environment. After all, if you can’t get visitors to your site, and get them to engage with your content, you’ve obviously missed the mark. But, in an increasingly competitive quest to rank ever higher in Google SERP (search engine results page), some content marketers may go a bit overboard when it comes to chasing the numbers.
Conversational artificial intelligence isn't a thing of the future. It's here now. It is now possible for technology to artificially replicate an individual's voice to, for instance, share a voice message from the CEO, respond to common employee questions, offer voice-driven training or just-in-time instruction, and much more. But while there are practical applications, there are scary ones as well.
Independent business journalist specializing in content marketing, online communications, marketing and HR/employee relations. I am the author of more than 15 books, and hundreds, if not thousands, of articles on topics ranging from customer service to how metalworking fluids impact the food manufacturing industry. I’m a prolific writer and enjoy the process of digging into a topic and conducting research to create content to address readers' needs and interests.
Company: Various publications
I worked there from 1/2000 until now
Courses on a variety of communication and marketing related topics including consumer behavior, marketing research, business presentations and PR management for both undergraduate and graduate-level students, in live and online formats.
Company: UW-Eau Claire
I worked there from 1/2002 until now
Owner/CEO of Strategic Communications, LLC, and a marketing and communication strategist with expertise in strategic planning, B2B content marketing, PR/media relations, social media and SEO. Her background as a freelance business journalist, advertising copywriter and corporate communication professional provides the foundation for understanding how to produce and use high-quality, personalized content to inform, motivate and engage audiences.
Company: Strategic Communications
I worked there from 1/2000 until now