The conversation.

I hear it all the time . . . “one of our biggest challenges is communication”! I recently read a great article in Workspan, a publication by WorldatWork which discussed how different generations prefer to hear about company offered benefits.

Most organizations utilize various media outlets to communicate benefits including:

  • Email (67%)
  • In-Person Meetings (43%)
  • Flyers and Brochures (40%)
  • Websites or On-line Portals (26%)
  • Direct Mail (25%)
  • Live Person – By Phone (9%)

In-person communication and online portals regarding benefits is the communication tool preferred most by employees.

Interestingly, different generations prefer face-to-face/in-person discussion based on the type of benefit:

Benefit Millennials Generation X Baby Boomers
When communicating physical wellness benefits: 61% 40% 48%
When communicating about emotional wellness benefits: 68% 59% 52%
For help managing chronic conditions: 66% 49% 52%

It is clear that Millennials are slightly more interested in wanting face-to-face conversations about all benefits with Generation X wanting these in-person conversations more when communicating about emotional wellness benefits.

No matter what generation or group of employees, understanding the culture of your organization and how employees prefer to hear about information that affects them is a critical aspect when engaging your workforce. Ask them what they want, how they want it, and make sure it is delivered in a way that will be most effective for everyone.



«Oh no! These photographers again!»

I was speaking with a member today and had a painful realization: I’m not helping members enough with their training needs.

Here’s what happened: I was talking with a member about how membership is going when she mentioned she had scheduled a series of trainings onsite at their organization with one of our competitors. ‘Why on earth would anyone do that when our trainings are so awesome?!’ I thought to myself. (Naturally, I’m biased. But still!)

Rather than share my unfiltered reaction, I politely asked our member why she had chosen to go with someone else. “I didn’t realize that you brought trainings on site,” she said. “I thought you only had public trainings.” She then proceeded to blame herself for not knowing our offerings better.

I immediately corrected her, because this is not her fault. It’s mine. As the Director of Training, I should be making it so abundantly clear that we can bring every one of our public offerings on site that I should earn the nickname ‘Captain Obvious’ when I mention it. So this blog post is both an expression of my commitment to do more to communicate with you about our onsite offerings and an opportunity to do so.

Every single one of the forty-six trainings we have in our catalog can be brought on site. We also have an array of offerings that we can bring on site that aren’t in our current catalog including:

  • Negotiation Skills
  • How to Conduct a Stay Interview
  • Effective Meeting Facilitation
  • Coaching and Performance Management

In addition, unlike other trainers, we’re more than happy to customize our curricula so that they meet the unique needs of our members’ organizations. We also only charge training fees based on the length of the session (with significant discounts for members) rather than based on the number of participants so that you can include as many people as possible.

In keeping with my commitment to do better at promoting our onsite services, you’ll also notice a couple of changes in our upcoming catalog, to be released later this summer. We’ll do a better job promoting our onsite capabilities and we will also have a new section that lists additional topics we offer beyond our public sessions.

It’s important to me that everyone knows about our onsite offerings not because it’s good for our business, but because it’s good for your business. A recent Pew study found that the vast majority of U.S. workers say that new skills and training may hold the key to their future job success. And because it is an employee’s market and our members need to take every opportunity to help with recruitment, engagement, and retention, our members need to make training a priority. While our public offerings are a fantastic way to meet that need, on site trainings are another vital option that may be more convenient and effective for some members.

While it was humbling, I was so grateful to get this feedback from one of our members because it gives me an opportunity to better communicate our robust training programs. Please know I am always happy to talk about our trainings and how Cascade can help you achieve your training goals.

Feel free to contact me about your training needs at or call me at (503) 585-4320. Or view our current catalog online.



Oregon Coast

If you live in Oregon, you know it’s great. I’ll admit it, I often tell people it’s so rainy and mossy and gray that they probably wouldn’t want to live here. “But I hear there is amazing food,” they say. “Oh, yeah, it’s fine,” I lie. It’s fantastic. “And the ocean and mountains; it’s all right there,” they say daydreaming. “Well it takes forever to get to the beach because everyone goes there,” I lament.

That part is kind of true, but the ocean beaches are close and wonderful. Truth is, it is a great place to live and work and it is an attractive place for job seekers.

Think about this: according to a recent report from the Oregon Employment Department, Oregon had the 8th fastest job growth in 2016 and recently set a record low unemployment rate at 4 percent. And right now, the forecast isn’t for things to slow down. This is great for job seekers, but presents some difficulties for employers.

Job growth is great news, but with record low unemployment, finding candidates is proving difficult. So I guess maybe I should do employers a solid and start telling people how awesome Oregon is to improve the prospective candidate pool. I’ll think about that one.

Employers, on the other hand, need to develop strategies and execute on plans to better attract, hire and retain employees. Several times a week I talk with employers about their problems finding and hiring talent. Our conversations almost always all lead to the same place. There is no plan on how to attract candidates. The hiring process is not designed to identify what and who is truly required for success.

“The person I hired isn’t the same person that I interviewed,” they complain. “I need someone now – anyone,” they express in frustration. Yep! It’s hard. Harder when the candidate pool is dwindling.

So what happens? We cave. We cave because the pressure to get “someone – anyone” is strong. We cave because it’s easier in the short-term.

“How many times have you had to replace that position?” I ask. This is usually followed with a deep breath and some number that I can tell is disappointing and frustrating to them. “So what will happen if you keep doing the same thing? What impact will that have on productivity, profitability, on you?” I ask. The cost of a bad hire is significant. The switch has happened. It’s an employee’s market. Making a quality hire and retaining them must be a priority for any business.

It’s most certainly a priority for our team in working with our Members. So when our team came across The Predictive Index I was immediately intrigued because it appeared to provide an amazing option to help businesses accurately define the true competencies needed in specific positions and help them greatly improve their success in hiring top talent, building teams and leaders, managing change, influencing productivity, and ultimately driving growth to achieve their business objectives. All of this gets started with a quick (about six minutes) and easy behavioral assessment.

Now, let’s let our minds wander for a moment…

  • What if you had a tool that could quickly help you better identify a candidate’s likelihood of success and engagement before you even hired them? A real tangible tool and not something theoretical.
  • What if you had a tool that helped you develop interview questions based on the job you’re hiring for in combination with your candidates’ specific behavioral drives?
  • What if you had a tool that helped your team better understand each other’s native behaviors and how that translates to their needs in the workplace?
  • What if you had a tool that told you how quickly someone absorbs and learns information?
  • What if your employees had a tool to give them specific tips on how best to communicate with their boss and co-workers?
  • What if your leaders had a tool to give them coaching and development tips and plans for each employee based on the employee’s specific needs in the workplace?

Oh, that is quite a wish list. Sounds impossible? I thought so. I was wrong. The Predictive Index provides all of this. In fact, I’m still discovering all of the amazing tools and resources available. For those that know me, I can be hard to impress. But for those that have already heard me talk about The Predictive Index know how impressed I am with it.

I am quite thrilled that Cascade is a certified partner with The Predictive Index because it allows us to proactively help employers thrive in this highly competitive Oregon market.

If you find your workplace struggling with finding and keeping great employees, let’s talk. I bet we can help. In the meantime, here’s to rainy, mossy, gray, awesome Oregon!



JB Instant Lawn

Until the 1960s, the idea of having an instant, new green lawn was still foreign in the Western states. Did you know…

  1. Paul Jensen, the founder of JB Instant Lawn, and his brother began farming a small plot of land in the early 1950’s on the rich soil just outside of Silverton, Oregon. This was the beginning of the brothers’ specialty grass seed production.
  2. Throughout the 1960’s the brothers became one of the largest Blue Grass growers in the region. Their ensuing direct involvement with sod growers outside of the region led the Jensens to become the original pioneers of the West Coast sod market beginning in 1968.
  3. Paul took the lead during those initial pioneering years and spent much of his time on the road selling, promoting and creating demand for the still-foreign sod product. Within a decade he had established a firm market not only in the Willamette Valley but as far north as the Canadian border. Thus a second sod production farm was established in Redmond, Washington.
  4. In 1998 the company expanded its Redmond farm to include wholesale nursery plants, supplying customers throughout the densely populated Seattle area.
  5. Now leading the charge at JB is Paul’s daughter Anne-Marie, and son-in-law Mark who is President and Farm Manager. And the JB fleet of trucks continues to deliver products from the California border to the Canadian border with no signs of slowing down.

Cascade is proud to feature JB Instant Lawn, a member with “grass” in their family roots and a leader in the Green Industry.

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