The Swear Jar

The Swear Jar

No nonsense. Just the straight sh*t about the harsh realities and the wonderful opportunities that inspired employee communications can bring you and your organization.Whether your job title includes the words 'Communications', 'Human Resources', 'Project Management' or 'Executive', The Swear Jar is for you. The Swear Jar is irreverent, entertaining but, most of all, it's practical. This is where you will get advice that will transform your organization by truly tapping into the power of effective employee communications. Just don't expect us to 'pull any punches'. Is it 'safe for work'? Well, as the title suggests, we do indeed swear a little. But, chances are, when you're dealing with employee communications, you feel like swearing too. So, I think we're pretty much on the same page. Come and swear along with us.


September 5, 2021 34 mins

It seems like it was just yesterday when the prospect of leveraging build screens as an internal communications tool was out of reach.  And the reasons were plentiful:

  • The technology was too expensive;
  • Since big screens were the purview of the IT department, they alone designed, installed, and maintained the screens;  and
  • Because of the cost of big screens, they’d only be used for almost anything other than trying to engage and in...
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Every Fearless Communicator has a love-hate relationship with surveys. But, let's take a step back and remind ourselves why we survey employees in the first place. Ostensibly, we're trying to "listen to employees" because doing so helps  the organization and, by extension, everyone in it, be far more successful.

So, put employee surveys aside for a moment and let's re-examine the best ways we can (...

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In your role as an employee communications professional, chances are you’re expected to ensure proposed changes --- like adoption of new policies, procedures, or technologies --- get effectively introduced and actually “stick”. And that’s regardless of whether you have any kind of change management skills, training, or support.

Life gets even messier for you when folks from HR, training and project management share your mandate to b...

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The verdict is in: Every survey asking leaders which skills they consider essential to success and/or growth sees “communications skills” called out in the top five responses --- and often, within the top three. 

And yet, organizations all too often neglect, minimize or worse, discredit communications skills. Contributing to this unfortunate reality is the branding of communications as “soft skills”. So, Elizabeth and I unpack the “...

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Let’s face it, it’s tough introducing a new technology or a new process, into your organization. And like it or not, as the professional communicator, you’re often “on the hook” for making sure these kinds of changes are embraced. That’s why Nekolina Lau’s Gold Quill award-winning story about how ATB Financial successfully launched a large-scale technology on-boarding initiative is so very inspiring and helpful.

Okay, here’s a quest...

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"Intranets aren't sexy". That's the word according to Amanda Stephenson, RSA's Manager of Communications. (And, it couldn't be more true). Yet, Amanda recently won a Gold Quill Award for rolling out an upgrade of an on-premises version of SharePoint to a cloud-based version. How on earth could she have managed that --- given that this kind of project is pretty much at the bottom of the list of projects...

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April 25, 2021 59 mins

Employee engagement is creeping up, but guess who's not engaged? Middle managers. Those much-maligned and ignored folks are under more pressure than ever to get stuff done and keep their organizations moving.

Natalia Smalyuk of Not Business As Usual joins us for a wide-ranging look at why middle managers are struggling, how executives can re-engage them before it's too late, and how organizations need to double d...

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We all know it: Marketing always gets all the fanfare when it comes to innovation. After all, stuff that contributes to bringing revenue to our corporate overlords is generally valued more than activities that keep the lights on --- like managing employee communications! We, as Fearless Communicators get that. We’ve all seen the Marketing Department’s budgets expand for evaluating, implementing and training on the “marketing commun...

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Robert Gold is well-known throughout the Canadian business community as a thought-leader, an early adopter of technology and a trusted advisor to growing companies of all shapes and sizes.

Because he helps organizations across industries successfully navigate their growth, he has a broad view of how and why organizations are going to emerge post-pandemic. And, while it’s true that our discussion with Robert ping-pongs wildly, we fel...

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March 6, 2021 32 mins

Here’s an annoyingly simple truth: If your employees don’t feel emotionally connected to your organization’s purpose, its cultural values, its tasks or its people, your organization will underperform. In fact, your organization won’t survive even in the most favorable times --- never mind during times of severe upheaval (like during and after a pandemic). 

So, establishing and sustaining a strong emotional bond is something every or...

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Is 2021 the year we finally start getting inclusion, diversity and equity (ID&E) right?  In a time of overt racism in the U.S. Capitol building and the firing of KPMG's U.K. leader for calling unconscious bias "complete crap" are we finally ready to start getting ID&E right?

Michael Kaneva, Chief Diversity Officer at Export Development Canada joins us on The Swear Jar to work through why we're s...

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There isn’t a communication professional alive who hasn’t been confronted with resistance in some form or another. 

 In fact, comms pros are often called in to prevent or minimize resistance to upcoming transformations. However, they’re called in to clean up after big and small projects alike have come off the rails.

 Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse

 If you’re ever in a meeting and leaders use any of these three familiar phrases be f...

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If you haven't had the pleasure of listening to the Goat Rodeo Sessions by Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile, you've been missing out one what on commenter called "Bluegrass that dropped out of high school, sneaked away to NYC and went to The Juilliard School of Music."

So what does this have to do with employee communications? Meet our guest, Mark Edgar of The Goat Rodeo Project and ...

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February 6, 2021 41 mins

The "Great Undesked" is a segment of the workforce that often gets forgotten, neglected, underserviced and sometimes even scapegoated by employers.

Just think about nurses, insurance agents, healthcare givers, drivers, miners, grocery store workers, care takers and couriers --- just to name a few. These workers, who are critical to the success of so many organizations and communities, are rarely glued to their s...

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February 2, 2021 27 mins

Whether you like it or not, your current, past and potential employees are talking sh*t about you online. It might be nice sh*t or it might be nasty sh*t, but the truth is, if you're not paying attention, someone else is owning the narrative about your brand. 

That's probably why fewer than 1 in 4 companies even bother to respond when someone leaves a review on Glassdoor, Indeed, Google or the countless other pla...

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January 16, 2021 28 mins

We’re going to be hearing a lot about trust in organizations this year. As we begin to figure out the new terms of engagement for the workplace in 2021, we’ll need to make sure that building and maintaining trust is a deliberate outcome of everything we do as communicators.

We’ve got years of data supporting the idea that people in high trust organizations are happier and outperform those in lower trust places. In fact, they report ...

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December 8, 2020 45 mins

We've been at this remote work thing for long enough that you'd think managers and executives would be pretty good at communicating with their teams. Wouldn't you? But that's not what's happening.

Despite the fancy technology and the creeping acceptance of dogs, babies, Amazon deliveries and knowing too much about your coworkers' bedrooms, the truth is, we're not doing a good job of commu...

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Reward and recognition programs are adopted by all types of organizations – across industries – to move or more needles on employee behaviours. But, despite the best of intentions, these programs, which are often launched with much fanfare (and budgets), often fall well below their ambitious targets for engagement, retention, and organizational alignment*. The result: organizational leaders, HR executives and Project Managers can d...

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Episode Summary

This week Andrew and Elizabeth talk about a fate that befalls even the best organizational communicators: the dreaded Drive-Thru Window. We don’t mean a literal drive-thru (but if working in one is your part-time jam, we don’t judge); we’re talking about when communicators are stuck in order-taking mode and cranking out tons of materials they know aren’t that good or aren’t that necessary.

Of course, the issue is that...

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October 27, 2020 18 mins

Well, it's been a wild ride so far!

In producing The Swear Jar podcast we've tackled the good, the bad and the truly ugly in employee communications/internal communications. But why would we do that?

Because we are determined to provide practical and actionable insights to Employee Communications professionals --- across industries. And, we do that because, quite frankly, Fearless Communicators need too...

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