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A Horror Story

Baby boomers continue to attract attention. Does research this week reveal tricks or treats?

October 29, 2012
KEYWORDS boomers , media , policies
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It was a dark and stormy night when the librarian on duty was finally able to lock up and head home.

Part of her end-of-day routine was to tidy up the reference area. The overhead lights popped as she surveyed the unusual disarray in the reference section.

Typically this chore was quickly accomplished with the reshelving of a book or two, but tonight, things were oddly displaced. The dictionary was upside down on its podium. “M” came before “B” on the encyclopedia shelf. Someone had been eating in the library; crumbs littered the table in an ominous circle.

Worst of all, she realized as lightning flashed through the building with alarming illumination, the city map had been left open on the table. It had been defaced; a red splotch identified the cemetery.

Her heart pounded.  She quickly turned at the sound of footsteps. And there he stood …

Halloween horror stories include similar elements: unsettling disorder, suspense, elements of surprise, grim outcomes, and unpredictable behaviors. Those enjoying the genre believe they, too, could experience horrific circumstances if conditions were just right.

But in reality, facts illuminate darkness. Spectral images recede when emotions are checked. Careful analysis provides reasonable explanations and strategy for avoidable grim outcomes.

Think about the stories you prefer to tell at your credit union as you read this week’s research.

Social media hauntings

How are employees interacting with social media phantoms? See SilkRoad Technology’s “Social Media and Workplace 2012 Report.”

Reportedly, “Employees will use social media during the workday… Companies can either find ways to use social media to achieve measurable business results, or they can ignore it at their own peril,” says Flip Filipowski, CEO. Major research findings include:

Meanwhile, Awareness Inc. has a frightfully interesting study, “The State of Social Media Marketing,” providing further data on the topic. Companies need to know that to stand a ghost of a chance in today’s marketplace, incorporation of social media is critical:

“Although 70% of companies report using social technologies, only 3% say they derive substantial benefit… One of the main reasons why benefits of social technologies are still elusive is because we continue to apply traditional thinking and approaches to a fundamentally different world.”

Apparently, conditions are not as we imagine them…

Finally on the topic of social media, see “Social Media Policy 101.”  Here you’ll learn what to include in corporate social media policies to define appropriate or unacceptable conduct.

This article will quell goose bumps as you understand the need for such policies, learn about existing regulations, and discover what employer and employee information may be protected:

“When constructing a social media policy, be careful about restricting social media use. Ensure your policy is not so broad as to encompass permitted activities, but instead provides guidance on what behaviors are appropriate or inappropriate.”

Banshee boomers?

Baby boomers continue to attract attention. Does research this week reveal tricks or treats?

A report by Boston College suggests that when kids leave home, baby boomer moms need to consider five financial priorities:

Are boomer moms in your membership prepared?

Consideration of boomer finances may lead you to ask, “How Are Baby Boomers Spending Their Money?” Fear not, the National Center for Policy Analysis has some answers.

Surveys show that Boomers are spending more on education, adult children, and mortgage debt. An interesting tidbit? “Contrary to some perceptions, baby boomers have not increased their spending on frills, such as entertainment or dining out.”

How have boomers been uniquely affected in the wake of the Great Recession? Answers to this question are revealed in “Boomers and the Great Recession: Struggling to Recover.” 

“The report confirms that boomers have indeed had a rough ride over the past several years. The recession and its aftermath have left many without jobs, having exhausted their savings, and with homes they can neither afford nor sell.”

You will find boomer employment statistics, description of activities boomers take in anticipation of their financial futures, and policy issues in this important study.

A chilling tale

One final chilling tale this week is uncovered in “U.S. Households Forecast to Use More Heating Fuels This Winter Compared with Last Winter,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Last winter’s above-normal temperatures provided a reprieve on household budgets that will not be realized this year as “Household natural gas heating demand…is expected to be up nearly 14%, heating oil up 17%, electricity up 8%, and propane up 17%.”

Will your members be left out in the cold with these expenses?

The librarian faced her 4’ 5” tall opponent, brandishing his red crayon, and licking peanut butter from his lips.

“Please keep your snacks and writing implements out of the library,” she admonished. “That’s scary stuff in the reference department.”

Sometimes the scene is set for a horror story, and sometimes our perceptions of surroundings can lead us astray as we attempt to decipher current events and situations in decision-making efforts.

Stick to the facts and be thorough in your deliberations about product and service offerings and managerial decisions.  When you are aware of your surroundings, know what your members want, and have an appreciation for what your employees need, will you have horror stories to tell?

“Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.” --Edgar Allan Poe

LORA BRAY is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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