Marlin's Workplace Communications Blog. Current human resources topics like safety, quality and health. Digital signage and communications technology. The Marlin Company offers turnkey Workplace Digital Signage Systems, Electronic Bulletin Boards and Digital Signage Content Management Software.
17 Sanitation Workers Were Killed in the First Three Weeks of 2019. That’s a really shocking statistic. It’s hard to believe that 17 people said goodbye to their families one morning on the way to work and never made it home in just the first 3 weeks of the year. This compares for 23 deaths for all of 2017, the last year for which numbers are available.
According to this article in Safety & Health magazine, the majority of sanitation workers killed or injured have this happen outside of their trucks. It makes sense in this age of texting while driving that having sanitation workers walking around civilian drivers who aren’t paying attention is a very bad mix. My guess is that people tend to text more in residential neighborhoods where the speed limit is a lot lower, but unfortunately that’s exactly where sanitation workers are walking around.
This makes wearing high-visibility clothing all the more important for those workers. In fact, SWANA, the Solid Waste Association of North America, makes these related recommendations:
Wear personal protective equipment, especially high-visibility vests and/or outerwear.
Don’t use cellphones while driving garbage trucks or at disposal facilities.
These recommendations still don’t address the problem of texting drivers. While there are efforts to educate all drivers about the dangers of texting and driving, the problem seems to be getting worse; I see texting drivers at least once a day. For now, it’s up to the sanitation companies to make their workers more visible.
In the past year I’ve started to see joggers and bike riders wearing new types of visibility vests. They light up and/or flash which makes them super visible. Interestingly, I’ve only seen them advertised for personal use, but not for industrial. Maybe they’re not rugged enough, cost too much, or use too many batteries.
The Next Steps to Sanitation Worker Safety
I hope sanitation companies are looking to leverage this new technology. Meanwhile, all of us drivers need to be super-vigilant when driving around any slow or stopped vehicle, particularly sanitation, utility, delivery or any other kind likely to have workers walking around them.
An acoustic guitar performance, no matter how good it is, can only reach a small group of listeners. But connect it to an amplifier and you can reach 100,000 people in a stadium. Same “content,” but hugely different impact.
This same concept can also apply to workplace communication as a safety/toolbox talk follows a similar dynamic. You meet with a group of employees and give them solid, relevant advice, and then they’re off to do their jobs. But where are the reminders and reinforcement for the rest of the day and week? How can you reach everyone, not just small groups?
Many of our customers use our workplace digital signage product to do just that. They still do the safety talks, but amplify them by posting follow-ups on their signage, which repeats throughout the week where everyone can see it. The included Marlin content reinforces your safety information and the built-in tools give you other ways to support your messaging (such as a quick counter “hours/days worked since last lost-time accident” widget).
Improve Your Workplace Communication Today
This is a simple concept and very effective. If you don’t have a way to amplify your safety information, give us a call to find out how thousands of other companies do it.
Recently, I was going through an internal report of our newest customers. In this report was a list of frustrations each customer had before buying our workplace communications program. One frustration that kept popping up was a variation of sneakernet; some poor soul who has to run around with a flash drive updating PowerPoints on screens throughout their facility.
Sneakernet happens when companies who need to communicate think they can do it themselves by using only PowerPoint and some display screens. Does it work? Yes. Does it work well? No.
If the application is simple, it can be an OK solution for a company posting one or two pieces of information a week in one location. But the vast majority of our customers need to do much more; they need to communicate on diverse issues such as safety, productivity, quality, teamwork, morale and employee milestones. This requires a lot of content creation. And if they have multiple locations in their building or across the country, it multiplies the complexity.
As a workplace communications system grows from a single location to something more complex, the sneakernet concept quickly sours. At best it’s inefficient, at worst it’s impossible and just won’t get done, causing the system to fail. Most companies don’t want their IT people running around copying files from flash drives when there’s more important work to be done.
Get Rid of Sneakernet Today
Say no to sneakernet and invest in a system designed from the bottom up to help you communicate effectively with your employees.
All companies have rules & regulations they have to comply with, either from internal controls or from outside regulators, governments and associations. It’s critical that your employees understand these issues, since they’re the ones who put compliance into action. However, these issues can be complex and difficult to communicate effectively.
They don’t always have to be difficult to communicate, though. One great way to keep them interesting is to reduce the issues into interesting bit-size pieces of content that employees can digest easily. At Marlin, we do this by producing 30 second videos, then posting them on TV screens in breakrooms, cafeterias and other well-traveled areas.
Can you do this yourself? Well – yes, if you have the time and resources to spend. Here are some of the steps to making effective pieces of content from compliance information:
Identify all of your compliance issues.
Gather the compliance materials into a database.
Map out a calendar schedule for communication topics.
Buy the computers and software you’ll need for video production.
Hire a team leader who has experience in video project production management.
Schedule daily design meetings to determine how to summarize each issue into component parts.
Schedule daily production meetings to figure out who is going to write the copy, create the storyboards, create initial designs, critique partial production pieces, produce final videos and sign off on them.
Create another process database for finished videos for tagging, storing and distribution.
Schedule a daily scheduling meeting to move the finished videos from the process database to the TV screens.
This all assumes that you have existing TV screens networked together, each screen is controlled by a computer capable of displaying the right videos at the right time, and you have software that’s easy to use for employees who want to add additional content, such as photos, spreadsheets, and KPIs.
If this all sounds very time consuming and expensive, it is. I know, because it’s what we do at Marlin every day, so our customers don’t have to take the time or bear the high expense. They just go to work each day to do their jobs with everything happening automatically in the background.
Start Turning Compliance into Content Today
You can try to do it yourself, but first I suggest checking out a solution where all the work has been done for you. Thousands of companies have chosen Marlin to be their partner for this work and 94% would recommend us to another company. Check us out today.
Does your company fix its own HVAC system when it breaks down?
Does it clean its own carpets?
Stock its own vending machines?
Write its own word processing software?
Or course not, because that’s not your business. So why would you try to create your own workplace communications system?
As CEO, I can tell you it takes millions of dollars each year to produce a world-class workplace communications product. You need artists, copywriters, creative directors, software engineers, IT experts – the list goes on. The vast majority of companies can’t afford to do this themselves, nor would they have the expertise. But many try, which is really a shame, because after months or years or trying, it’s very typical for them to give up. That’s a lot of frustration and wasted resources that could have been spent on whatever their core service or product is.
To me, trying to write your own word processing software or fixing your HVAC system makes about as much sense as trying to build an in-house workplace communications system. If you’re looking for such a system, find a company that does it for a living and save yourself time, money and a lot of frustration and wasted resources.
Workplace safety awareness doesn’t happen automatically. Whether you are a full-time, contract or temporary worker, knowing how to react and make well informed safety decisions is essential to preventing common injuries. This all starts with communication and proper training so that you understand best practices and policies for safety standards at work. Here are ten workplace safety tips to ensure that you stay safe at work every day:
1. Wear Proper Clothing
Whether you’re operating machinery or working with hazardous materials, proper clothing is one of the key workplace safety tips. Proper footwear is just as important, as it prevents you from falling or slipping on wet surfaces. Ask your employer what protective gear they require you to wear, and what, if any, they provide.
2. Receive Training
Don’t assume you can teach yourself how to operate heavy machinery. The results could be fatal. Take any necessary training and use caution with unfamiliar equipment. If you work on a ladder, make sure you know proper safety procedures for working from heights. If you have questions or are unsure, ask before you try something yourself.
3. Comply with Industry Standards
Ensure your employer complies with all proper standards. For example, OSHA has standards when it comes to working with hazardous materials, so it’s especially important to use material safety data sheets (MSDS) for hazardous substances. If you’re concerned your employer is not meeting these standards, report it to human resources.
4. Lift with Caution
You may feel like you are strong enough to lift certain objects, but the result of improper lifting can be devastating if you were to seriously injure your back. For objects over 50 pounds, use machinery to lift the object, instead. It’s also important to ensure you’re using proper form, lifting with your legs instead of your back, and always wearing a back brace if you do repetitive lifting.
5. Don’t Overexert Yourself
Overexertion is a major cause for injury. If you’re getting tired, take a break. Make sure you take all breaks provided to allow for adequate rest because bodily injuries from overexertion can be extremely serious and expensive.
6. Read Warning Signs
It is crucial to your safety that you read all signage in your workplace. Signs often warn workers of hazardous conditions or machinery. Take them seriously. Don’t ignore or skim through them. Read the signs fully, and make sure you understand the risks before you proceed.
7. Be Aware
You can prevent injuries by being aware of your surroundings and paying attention to where you’re walking. Walking into objects is a common workplace accident, so pay special attention when you’re walking through a new area and adhere to walkways so as to avoid dangerous machinery.
8. Cover Your Ears and Eyes
If you work with hazardous materials or in an environment where loud noises occur regularly, wearing proper ear and eye equipment is vital to safety. Protective eyewear prevents injury from fire or chemical exposure and ear protection can prevent hearing loss or permanent damage. Industrial deafness is a real problem; don’t let it happen to you.
9. Adhere to Ergonomic Standards
Ergonomics is the science of adjusting the job to fit the body’s needs. Whether you’re standing all day at a machine or working at a computer, make sure the equipment is at the proper height so that you don’t strain your neck. Keyboard height can also affect your back, shoulders, and hands. Make sure your work station is customized for you and your body’s needs.
10. Address Injuries Immediately
If you’re injured at work, make sure you address it right away. Report all injuries and seek medical attention immediately. File a compensation claim if necessary and don’t allow injuries to linger – it could lead to permanent damage.
If you adhere to these workplace safety tips, you will increase your awareness of what it means to be safe at work and in doing so, avoid potential injuries. To learn more about increasing safety awareness in your workplace, contact Marlin today.
Having the ability to communicate with colleagues, upper management, clients, and others is essential in any type of business. But sometimes, good communication isn’t just about presenting information. It’s about understanding each person and creating a strategy that works for your business. However, many people have difficulty communicating effectively at work because of the following four barriers:
Stress and out-of-control emotion
Lack of focus
Inconsistent body language
Negative body language
These barriers have a direct impact on the four skills of effective communication in the workplace.
Your ability to assess body language and other instances of nonverbal communication becomes hindered when you are under a great deal of stress or experiencing difficult emotions. When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, you’re likely to misread other people. This can lead to lashing out or sending negative nonverbal signals. Learning how to calm down quickly will allow you to engage in effective communication in the workplace during challenging situations.
A lack of focus can do more damage than you might expect, harming your ability to practice engaged listening. Engaged listening depends on your ability to focus on the words of your conversation partners. Multitasking also harms your ability to focus. For instance, avoid working on the computer when you are talking on the phone. You may think you can juggle many things at once, but science tells us we aren’t as good at it as we think.
Inconsistent body language will also harm your ability to communicate effectively in the workplace. If your body language is inconsistent with what you’re saying, this sends a signal to your audience that you are dishonest. For example, shrugging your shoulders while stating a fact will lead your audience to question the credibility of your fact. Make sure your gestures, posture, and facial expressions always match what you are saying.
Negative body language can also contradict your verbal communication. Using positive body language, such as maintaining eye contact and smiling, is crucial to effective communication in the workplace. Positive body language communicates engagement and interest. Negative body language, such as slumped shoulders or avoiding eye contact, communicate the opposite message.
It’s important to remain conscious of your posture, gestures, and facial expressions. Practicing effective time management and taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health will help you combat barriers to effective communication in the workplace.
4 Strategies for Effective Communication in the Workplace
The following best practices will bolster your ability to communicate effectively at work. Always actively practice the four skills of engaged listening, nonverbal communication, managing stress, and assertiveness when carrying out these best practices.
Consider a situation carefully before taking any action. This will help manage emotional outbursts or rash decisions made under pressure. This will also help you communicate your ideas clearly and rationally when you do act.
Always gather as much information as you can before making a decision. Confirm this information to ensure that it is correct before coming to any conclusions.
Don’t take criticism personally. Any feedback you receive is meant to help you. Receiving heavy criticism on a project isn’t an attack on your talent or work ethic. Always incorporate feedback positively.
Whenever possible, meet with team members or subordinates in person. Email communication is easy, but it lacks the benefits of face-to-face communication. In-person meetings will help cultivate professional relationships and allow for rich dialogue. For example, during an in-person brainstorming session, team members can bounce ideas off each other, develop close collaborations, and create a final product the whole team can be proud of.
This workplace communication guide has reviewed the skills, best practices, and barriers surrounding professional workplace communication. These best practices and the four skills for effective communication in the workplace will help bolster office morale, overall team productivity, and individual mental and emotional wellness. Clear, open, and honest communication practices lead to a happy team, and happy teams produce amazing work.
At Marlin we provide employers with the best tools in visual communication, strengthening teams and enabling the practice of effective workplace communication skills. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.
I keep reading that millions of jobs are about to disappear due to new technologies like robots and artificial intelligence. Here’s a typical CNBC article highlighting the top 10 disappearing occupations. They are:
Pourers and casters, metal
Foundry mold and core makers
Electronic equipment installers and repairs, motor vehicles
Word processors and typists
Parking enforcement workers
Respiratory therapy technicians
However, it’s my position that for every job eliminated, more than one will be created in new product and technology areas as I wrote here last year. In that blog I mentioned job categories that will expand, such as Programmer, App Developer, Database Administrator and Cloud Computing Expert. But lately it’s occurred to me that there are many job areas where expansion is impossible to conceive of right now.
Predicting Tomorrow’s Jobs From Yesterday
Before the car was invented there was no demand for it. Jobs like taxi driver or chauffeur were not even a dream. And who would have thought that a telephone operator would be a job before the phone was invented in 1885? The answer is no one, but by 1920 there were 177,000 of them. Now they’re almost extinct. No one predicted the rise or fall of these jobs and I think we’re no better at it today than before.
The problem with these job warnings is that people can see the jobs about to be lost, but they can’t see the ones yet to be invented. Another example: The modern smartphone was born in 2007 with the arrival of the iPhone. Today, there are 12 million mobile app developers, making up for those lost operator jobs 67 times over. And notice that the invention/job creation time cycle, as compared to the original phone, shrunk from 35 years to ten.
This cycle will continue forever, which is one reason we have the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years. Innovation creates new service and products and raises the overall standard of living, which in turn increases the demand for more stuff.
Prepare Employees For Tomorrow’s Jobs
The trick is to train young people to know how to do these jobs, which is a challenge for educational systems that are wedded to the past. But companies can pick up the slack by training their own people for new opportunities and communicating with them constantly about the shifting environment. There’s a bright future in terms of job creation and we are already seeing shortages in some of the new ones; mobile app developers being a case in point. I put this in the “good problem to have” category, especially considering those doom predictors out there.
So, to answer my original question, where will tomorrow’s jobs come from? They will come from things not yet invented, people’s minds, muses and creativity; just like they always have. We can’t know what those ideas will be, but history proves to us that they happen.
In theory, communication should come easy – we spend most of our lives engaged in some form of communication, be it speaking, listening, reading, or writing. However, being able to communicate effectively at work requires a specialized set of skills.
With this workplace communication guide, we will walk you through the best practices for communication to promote strong and successful office environments and offer clear examples.
To start, understanding the basics of professional workplace communication will help you establish strong relationships with your colleagues, sharpen your teamwork skills, and increase your work quality. In the case of supervisors, managers, and employers, knowing how to promote effective workplace communication will boost employee productivity and office morale.
What Does Effective Communication in the Workplace Look Like?
Whether you are talking to your partner or engaging with work colleagues, effective communication combines a set of four skills:
Listening, while fully engaged with the speaker
Nonverbal communication, like eye contact and nods
Managing stress in the moment
Respectfully asserting yourself
Professional workplace communication skills are difficult to master. The following tips can help you implement effective communication in your day-to-day operations and make your work a more positive place.
Excellent listening skills are crucial for promoting effective workplace communication. Engaged listening is the act of focusing solely on what the other person is saying during a conversation – no phone contact, no listening to others conversation, no planning what you will say next.
According to workplace communication expert Elisia Stewart, when you listen to someone, they are more inclined to listen to you, too. Stewart offers the following tips for effective, engaged listening:
Listen carefully and attentively when others are talking.
If you find yourself talking more than the other person, ask questions to get them engaged.
Wait to hear what the other person has to say before responding. You don’t want to miss out on the conversation because you’re thinking of what to say next.
Show interest. Nod occasionally, smile, and respond with small comments such as “yes” or “uh huh” when appropriate.
Set aside your judgment. Professional workplace communication can take place whether or not you agree with the ideas and values of your conversation partner. Try not to let your personal values distract you from the conversation.
When you practice engaged listening, a rich exchange of ideas occurs during the conversation. Since you’re not distracted by your next project deadline or what you’ll be eating for lunch that day, you (and your conversation partner) will absorb more information from your conversation. This information can improve your professional relationships, contribute to current projects, and even create innovative ideas within the workplace.
It is important to pay attention to nonverbal communication and body language when discussing effective communication in the workplace. Body language is crucial to establishing professional relationships. Paying attention to your gestures, posture, and facial expressions will help you convey positive and open messages with your body language. These positive and open messages are crucial to communicating effectively at work.
Keep the following concepts in mind when assessing your nonverbal communication:
Avoid negative body language. Use your body language to portray confidence. Keep your head high, maintain respectful eye contact, and smile!
Make sure your body language supports what you’re saying. If you’re excited about a certain project, make sure your body language conveys it.
Engage with your listeners using proper gestures, hand movements, and posture. Not only will this help promote effective workplace communication, but it will catch your audience’s attention!
Make sure to adjust your body language to fit different workplace environments. Body language that may be appropriate during coffee breaks usually won’t be appropriate in the boardroom.
Use open body language. Avoid crossing your arms or legs during a conversation. Instead, uncross your arms and legs, stand or sit on the edge of your seat, and maintain eye contact with your conversation partner. This will help you practice open body language.
Stress and out-of-control emotions can harm how you communicate effectively at work. Stress causes a person to act in ways that they may later regret, such as lashing out unexpectedly or breaking down due to a minor inconvenience.
Stress also implicitly affects your body language and your focus; when you’re stressed, you may find yourself becoming more restless and distracted. This can create undesirable body language cues, such as a shaking leg or avoidance of eye contact, which communicates disinterest to your conversation partner. This also impacts your ability to practice engaged listening.
The following tips can help you manage stress effectively:
Recognize your stress and give yourself time to calm down. Take a walk, do some breathing exercises, or take a nap. Yoga is a great strategy for some people, and it can be practiced anywhere. Find strategies that work for you and apply them when necessary.
If you’re unable to remove yourself from the situation, use stalling tactics to give yourself time to think. Ask for people to repeat questions or clarify their statements before you respond.
Focus on delivering your words clearly. An even tone, eye contact, and relaxed body language will hide your stress from conversation partners. Pretending you’re not stressed may also help you relax.
Don’t be afraid to leave a stressful situation if you need to calm down. Taking breaks during a difficult or heated conversation will benefit your colleagues as well. Explain that you need a quick break is a smart way to defuse a situation.
These tips may not work for everyone; it’s important to find management strategies and apply these strategies to tricky situations that may involve difficult communication.
Respectful and Direct Assertion
Communicating in a direct and assertive way is an effective strategy for workplace communication. This provides clarity to your statements. Sometimes, when people are trying to be nice, they sound passive instead. Your self-confidence and decision-making skills will improve through this honest and open communication strategy.
However, there is a fine line between arrogance and assertiveness. You do not want to come off as hostile, aggressive, or demanding. The goal of professional workplace communication is to understand the other person, not to combat them.
The following tips can help you effectively improve direct and assertive communication strategies:
Value yourself and your opinions. Practice self-confidence. Your thoughts are valid and important in your workplace.
Know your needs and wants. This will help you communicate clearly.
Accept feedback in a positive manner. Feedback is necessary to help you grow. It is not a personal attack. It’s important to incorporate constructive feedback into your future work, so listen.
Learn how to say no. It’s easy to say yes to please others but having too much on your plate will lead to stress. Practice saying no and respecting your capacity.
Begin practicing assertiveness in low-risk situations so that you can assert yourself in high-pressure environments.
By analyzing and understanding the basics about workplace communication, it can help to come up with a strategy that works best for your work environment. See how employees are communicating with one another and learn what communication skills work best with each. Every person is different, so what might work for one, may not for another. Whether it be talking with your colleagues, listening to them, or reading their body language, understanding these skills and learning to work with them will help to create a more productive work environment.
Wondering what keeps people from engaging in effective workplace communication? Learn about the four barriers people put up and how to communicate effectively at work to break down those walls.
Companies work hard to build their brands because it helps differentiate them from competitors. Whether you prefer the Windows or Macintosh operating system for your computer, you know what the advantages of each are and likely use one or the other.
However, in addition to established brands, there are dozens of ‘open source’ operating systems that are free. Why do users still prefer the established brands? It’s because strong brands stand for something: quality, reliability, big user bases, predictability, good security, and so on. Those features are worth paying for, which is why over 82% of people use them.
When it comes for workplace digital signage, it’s no different. There are free and super low-cost choices out there, but Marlin has the largest share of the market. And that’s because we’ve spent the last 15 years investing and innovating to deliver the best enterprise-class product possible.
Some elements of our brand include:
Our product is in over 15,000 locations around the world. That’s a real stat, not inflated by freebies or demos: It’s made up of 100% paid subscriptions. Thousands of company managers have made the decision that Marlin delivers real value for the dollars paid.
100% of our customers are workplaces and use our product to communicate to their employees. We don’t have products for airport flight boards, quick-serve restaurants, or retail store advertising. That’s just not our brand.
We produce dynamic, industry specific content that addresses workplace issues, so our customers don’t have to worry about doing that. We understand the power of visual storytelling and offer it to customers in an engaging format. We’ve produced tens of thousands of content videos that have made a material difference in the lives of our customers’ employees.
We’ve been in business for 105 years, in workplace communications for 76, and in digital workplace communications for 15. That’s a strong track record with experience that matters. We’ve navigated the ups and downs of economic cycles. Our customers know they can count on us to be here for as long as they need us.
Our customer care team routinely scores 98%-100% in customer satisfaction in our monthly internal surveys. We know how to solve problems when they happen, and want our customers to be treated just like we’d expect to be.
Start Improving Your Workplace Communications Today
These are core pillars of our brand. We are serious about helping our customers communicate with their most important asset – their employees. We work with thousands of customers that feel the same way. If you’re as serious about your brand as we are about ours, contact us to discover how we can get our brand working for you.