Given the demand for workers and the amazing mix of technology, it’s pretty clear companies can and need to do better job positioning themselves to prospective employees. 

Businesses and their workers have so much to be proud of. It’s time to tell their stories.

We understand human resource professionals are overworked. Their marketing counterparts are slammed. That’s particularly true for those at small and mid-sized companies, where these folks often were many hats.

Meanwhile, the need for talent grows.

Author, workforce expert and and talent consultant Ed Gordon describes a global work transformation in his books and presentations.

America needs qualified workers even as 10,000 Baby Boomers retire each day. And while Gordon rightly points out the need for business and education to work together, businesses need to do a better job explaining why anyone — particularly young workers — should work with them.

Doing that requires good content and the right strategic platform.

McDonald’s recently announced that it would use Snapchat to recruit workers

The fast food behemoth will promote a series of short videos of workers talking about the benefits of working at McDonald’s. Click through the ad and viewers taken to the McDonald’s careers website with compelling images, authentic voices that provide a dynamic window into the company, its people and its benefits.

Snapchat may not be the best play for everyone, but a recruiting strategy that does not focus on digital marketing will fall short.

Wisconsin companies as diverse as Mercury Marine  or Kwik Trip  also have developed new ways to tell their stories. Their web sites showcase not just their openings but their culture, their opportunities and the heartfelt voices of their employees. They do that through text, photos and video.

This approach shouldn’t be limited to big corporations with big marketing budgets. To compete, all businesses need to adopt a strategic, this multimedia tactics and tell their great stories.


Coralie Benson’s sacrifice to get to America is hard to imagine. She left everything she knew — even her daughter — in the Philippines to build a life here.

Suzanne Sedrak left family, too, when she moved from Alexandria, Egypt to Wisconsin. She came with her two children to the welcoming arms of her brothers and their families.

The stories and backgrounds of both women clearly are distinct. But they provide a unique window into the rich makeup and big hearts of the caregivers at North Central Health Care in Central Wisconsin.

Both women are CNAs who have found caring for seniors to be not just fulfilling but an important part of their lives. Both love their residents and are loved in return.

During conversations with both women, it’s easy to grasp their sincerity and how they’ve built relationships with the vulnerable elderly residents in their care. All of us want and need exceptional elder care.

The pair are part of a new series of video stories that U.S. Workstories has developed with North Central Health Care. Watch for them soon on our You Tube Channel and on our Facebook Page.

Coralie wasn’t new to caregiving when she arrived in the U.S. She had worked as a nanny in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong before she was introduced to the man who would ultimately marry her and bring her to the United States.

Once in New York, she worked as a babysitter, saving enough money to complete her citizenship paperwork.

In Wausau, she doubled-up as a hotel housekeeper and personal care worker, saving money to bring her daughter here four years after she arrived. Coralie said: “I’m so happy because I accomplished, I get my daughter, and she’s my everything.”

Suzanne studied dentistry in Egypt and had an active dental practice when she decided to come here to provide opportunities for her two children. Ultimately, she found herself helping organize activities for seniors. She said: “It just feels like my close friends.”

It’s been more than 20 years since Suzanne arrived. She’s seen her son become a health care administrator and her daughter return to Africa, if temporarily, to teach English with Americorp.

While the life paths for both of these caregivers have been different, it’s impressive to see them bring their experiences, work ethic and caring approach to the same place. The community, the residents, all of us, benefit from their willingness to journey here.


Most of us go for broad, general statements of fact because, well, we wish life were that simple.

Statements like: People from the Midwest are hard-working and nice.

Well, we know several from the Midwest who are lazy and nasty.

Or other statements like: Millennials have the attention span of a gnat, so all videos should be the size of a gnat.

Fact is, life and video length is more complicated than we’d like.

This post from WISTIA offers some really nicely written analysis, complete with graphs, explaining that videos under two minutes have high engagement. That’s a good place to start, as they say.

Viewership drops off between two and six minutes. But if you can keep e’m watching for six minutes, chances are you’ll keep most people for up to 12 minutes.

What does all that mean about how long your view should be? We, of course, it depends.

What’s clear is: Use the right content for the right audience. Compelling stories that connect with an audience and evoke emotion are a perfect fit for video.

A great storyline, interesting visuals and meaningful quotes will make viewers wonder where the time went.


Chad and his wife moved to Wisconsin to take a job with more responsibility. A year later, he was out of that job and wondering what to do next.

Jason had a picture of what life would be like in Florida, but he found that working at a resort there just wasn’t what he thought it would be.

For Season, there was a certain satisfaction to accounting. And she was good at it. But she wanted more options.

Many people — if not most — reach employment crossroads. Their stories aren’t just interesting, they’re informative.

We can learn from those who face major job decisions. Their stories can be inspirational reminders that we can overcome challenges with the right approach and determined attitude.

At U.S. Workstories, we’ve talked with many people who’ve faced such turning points. Here are few things we’ve learned from these people.
Tap into your talent: Chad Zerkle lost his job in radio, but he used strong communications and listening skills — and passion for service — to land his next job: dispatcher with the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department.

Follow your heart: Jason Thiel felt Wisconsin calling and knew that’s where he would be happiest — even though he wasn’t sure where he would work next. He needed to be back home — and that led to a great job with Wausau Coated Products.

Commit to growth: Season Welle knew that to she needed more education if new doors were going to open for her. So, even though she had two children and a full-time job, she decided to get a master’s degree. She’s now a key department manager for the Marathon County Health Department.

All of these people are impressive. Not because of their positions or credentials. But because of their examples and their determination. We are grateful that we can learn from their stories.


The title of the report about Wisconsin’s workforce — The Impending Storm — was spot on.

Certainly the hail of threatening numbers and dark economic forecasts conjured up weather images.

The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance has predicted a significant demographic shift that will have far-reaching consequences for the state. A report this monthWausau Balloon Glow says the situation may actually be worse than previously thought.

The demographic change will affect nearly all facets of Wisconsin life, but especially its workforce. Essentially, Baby Boomers will leave the workforce in droves, and there aren’t enough younger people to take their places.

Many government agencies, schools and businesses have been working hard to address skills gap issues. But now the conversation will need to shift to recruiting any workers, and the competition for those workers will become even more intense.

Wisconsin certainly isn’t the only state facing a worker shortage — it’s a national demographic problem in which hand-wringing won’t help. And this really isn’t a partisan issue.

Simply, we must keep the people we have and attract more people to Wisconsin. Here are three ways to do that:

1) We must tell our powerful employee stories. Wisconsin is a great place to live and work. Businesses need to tell their stories and those of their workers. We have great companies and great employees. Job seekers want an authentic look inside; we can give that to them.

2) We must tell the story of our communities. Wisconsin is a great place to live and play for all seasons. Our communities have strong values and great traditions. We have a great story to tell.

3) We need to get that story where it matters. That’s online, in social media, through strategic marketing. We need to tell the story to ourselves, our neighbors and the nation.

We have great businesses, communities and workers in Wisconsin, and we need to tell people because the wind is blowing, and it’s starting to rain.


We knew employee video stories were powerful; now we can prove it.

For employers — all of whom face the Silver Tsunami retirement wave — this is great news because video stories can help increase employee retention and cut recruiting costs.

A recent survey showed that a whopping 85 percent of employees who watched U.S. Workstories video stories indicated they intended to remain working for their employer for at least five years.

“Overall, there is strong evidence that the videos are related to positive employee attitudes,” said Marlowe Embree, workplace engagement expert and associate psychology professor.

Embree is part of the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, which was commissioned by U.S. Workstories to survey employees about their attitudes.

The surveys showed that video stories of Marathon County government employees produced by Wausau-based U.S. Workstories significantly improved the likelihood that employees would continue to work with the county.

One anonymous survey respondent commented: “I am moved and motivated after watching the videos. I’ve lived in Marathon Co. my entire life and love the family-based community and all it has to offer. I’m so happy to hear others feel the same. It motivates me to be more involved in the community I live and work in.”

The short video stories, produced last fall, showcase the values and character of the employees and tell individual stories in the context of living and working in Marathon County. Those video stories are available for viewing at the U.S. Workstories video gallery and on the U.S. Workstories You Tube channel.

Marathon County Survey results also indicated that watching more employee video stories also significantly improved the chances that employees would remain working with the county.

Two surveys were conducted about a month apart and asked employees a short series of questions about their perceptions of their workplace and employer.

The Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service is a nonpartisan organization affiliated with the UW Colleges and UW-Extension offering research-based consultative services to businesses, governments, and non-profits throughout Wisconsin. For more information about their services, visit or contact them at


We think Chewbacca Mom is great. Her laugh is infectious. It’s hard to argue with 130 million Facebook views. And then there’s the millions in sales that Shopko will generate as a result of the viral video.
This week, a video showed a high school student flipping a water bottle onto a table at a high school talent show. The crowd — and the internet — went wild!
These are short and fun. We need them; life is serious enough.
Marketers are smart to take advantage of their popularity. And it’s great that Candace Payne (Chewbacca Mom) has used her instant fame as an opportunity to share her faith.
But is this the future of video, now that Facebook Live is up and running? Gags, gimmicks and camera tricks.
These pieces are not the key to huge growth in internet video. Rather, it’s what they can evoke: an emotional response that makes us feel better, more connected somehow.
Humans want stories,Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 8.30.55 AM content that connects us and makes us focus on something beyond ourselves. Humans want stories that entertain and teach.
According to internet research company Sandvine, streaming video and audio make up 70 percent of prime time internet traffic. That was 35 percent just five years ago.
Short, funny and viral pieces are not driving that. That’s what you’re watching on your work computer when you should be … um … working.
Entertainment content — movies and TV shows — are the lion’s share of that prime time growth. And that will build as bandwidth expands.
The launch of Facebook Live will certainly change the dynamic. It will help fuel video growth, but ultimately, we are hardwired for stories. And video stories will continue to connect with viewers long after Chewbacca Mom stops laughing.


Beside laundry and a hefty appetite, our college senior this year brought home for spring break some big news — evidence that the job market is heating up.

Simply, he’s gotten many job inquiries.

As a parent, this is welcome news. For employers, it signals important changes in the way to recruit and retain talent.

That’s certainly a red thread from the recent 2016 Deloitte Consulting Millennial Survey, which showcased company values as an essential characteristic to retaining and attracting employees.

The global study showed that two-thirds of millennials said they planned to leave their employer within the next four years. And with a huge retirement wave looming, that’s a pretty frightening statistic.

Wages and benefits remain the biggest factors in keeping and attracting candidates, but the annual study shows that it’s a whole lot more complicated that.

Work-life balance, opportunities for promotion and work flexibility are important factors in whether a millennial worker will choose to work for a company.

And it’s clear that company values and whether they align with employee values are critical to retention. Millennials they won’t sacrifice their principles for profit.

There also is strong indication that millennials choose employers, the study said, whose values reflect their own — a concept reinforced by the finding that 56 percent of millennials have ruled out ever working for a particular organization because of its values or standard of conduct.

More than ever, employee- and customer-focused company values are critical, and how companies convey those values also has become more important.

So as parents everywhere cheer the employment opportunities for their children, millennials likely will weigh their job decisions carefully, with a new set of criteria.


To attract top talent, you need to master the art of storytelling.
Well, we just loved reading that.
Bastian Bergmann is COO of WATTx, an IoT company that pursues smart climate solutions among other innovations that change our lives. IoT … that’s Internet of Things. (Click through if you need a definition. We did.)
In a recent piece for the Harvard Business Review, Bergman explains just how important his team is to his company. Good hiring is critical.
He then proceeds to outline six tips to recruit top talent.
First among those: Master the art of storytelling.
Did we say we love that?! Having a great company story is inspirational and aspirational. It’s attractive.
Great. Now go master that. Bergmann allows that it takes practice.
Here are a few things to practice:
Be relatable: It helps to think in concepts or values to which all of us can relate. Love, conflict, curiosity. Then use concrete examples that everyone can understand to illustrate those concepts. And, remember, not everyone is interested in what interests you.
Be simple: Use clear, down-to-earth language. This isn’t the time to show how you can use big words and complex sentences.
Talk about your struggles: All of us like a David-and-Goliath story, but in most of our lives, winning is less dramatic. But everyone has faced tough times; don’t be afraid to talk about them.
Be authentic: Not every story has some dramatic twist or surprise. Often sincerity speaks more effectively and inspirationally than drama. How did it make you feel? What change did it bring?
In the end, everyone has a great story to tell, and we’d love to hear yours.


More than 100,000 people turned out for Walter Williams’ funeral procession in 1959. The city of Houston declared a weeklong tribute in his honor.
A 117, Williams had claimed to be a Confederate veteran, the last survivor of American Civil War.
Problem was, the story probably wasn’t true.
It turns out that records failed to confirm Williams’ age. In fact, birth records showed he likely was 5 years old when the Civil War started, far too young to take the field of battle.
The Williams case demonstrates the power of stories — and the need for a bit of fact-checking.
Stories inspire. They provide context. They capture the imagination and help us remember values and concepts that might otherwise be forgotten or misplaced. They honor our past and help us prepare for the future.
We’ll hear many stories this political season. About humble beginnings, heroic deeds and examples where things are fouled up.
Listen carefully, enjoy the stories, then call on a bit of fact-checking from such groups as Politifact or Factcheck.
Beware the power of stories.