Open Enrollment Goes Open Mic

(NSFW from the Summer issue of Workspan)

Let’s face it: Open enrollment is not something that gets the pulse racing, unless you’re actively fleeing the fast- approaching HR person who would like to have a word about it. And there’s nothing inherently funny about it, just as there’s nothing inherently funny about complex periodontal work. Still, as open enrollment nears, HR tries yet again to conjure “fun” ideas to make communications more interesting and engaging. So while open enrollment is not exactly the stuff of (intentional) sketch comedy, why not try some humor?

open enrollment

First, we’d recommend changing the font to Comic Sans.

Theoretically this is a pretty good idea. Adding humor to an otherwise pretty grim process is certainly different, and to the extent that you’re able to achieve your minimal objective — actually being funny — sure, why not … but realize that it’s tricky. The workforce is made up of people from various backgrounds with different ethnicities, religious sensitivities and, perhaps most importantly, widely divergent views on what is and isn’t funny.

As someone who specializes in communications and dabbles in humor, let me suggest: If you’re entertaining the idea of imbuing your open enrollment messaging with comedic touches, don’t worry about the content — well, worry about that later. First, focus on matching the comedic form to the segment of your workforce that’s most likely to respond to content in that genre.

For more:

When the Biggest Risk is Playing it Safe

This is probably not news – certainly not to me in my other life as a recreational tennis player: most of us hate losing more than we take satisfaction in winning or potential gain. If I leave the court with a decisive 2 set win, I’ll spend the next 24 hours playing the best points in my head…then move on with my life. If I’m on the losing end, it becomes an all-consuming obsession, eating at me like a rolling toxic heartburn. For days.

In business, loss aversion is perhaps most evident – and powerful – in the embrace of the status quo. Change, any kind and any degree, is risky. This is one of the biggest challenges a salesperson must overcome.

Averting loss doesn’t automatically mean playing it safe – it’s the sales rep’s job to make the terrifying prospect of missing out the safe play.  For more, visit

The Ultimate #SHRM18 Playlist

Feel free to suggest additions. 


Maggie’s Farm (Bob Dylan)

I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
No, I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
Well, I wake in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin’ me insane
It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more


Hard Day’s Night (Beatles)

It’s been a hard day’s night, and I been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I’ll find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright


Salt of the Earth (Rolling Stones) 

Let’s drink to the hard working people
Let’s drink to the lowly of birth
Raise your glass to the good and the evil
Let’s drink to the salt of the earth
Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth
And when I search a faceless crowd
A swirling mass of gray and
Black and white
They don’t look real to me
In fact, they look so strange


Working Class Hero (John Lennon)

There’s room at the top they’re telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like the folks on the hill

A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be


Bellboy (The Who)

I’ve got a good job, and I’m newly born
You should see me dressed up in my uniform
I work in hotel, all gilt and flash
Remember the place where the doors were smashed?
Bell Boy, I got to get running now
Bell Boy, keep my lip buttoned down
Bell Boy, carry this baggage out
Bell Boy, always running at someone’s pleading heel
You know how I feel
Always running at someone’s heel


Living For the City (Stevie Wonder)

His father works some days for fourteen hours
And you can bet he barely makes a dollar
His mother goes to scrub the floors for many
And you’d best believe she hardly gets a penny


Raspberry Beret (Prince) 

I was working part time in a five-and-dime
My boss was Mr. McGee
He told me several times that he didn’t like my kind
‘Cause I was a bit too leisurely


Rosalita (Bruce Springsteen)

And your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money
Your papa says he knows that I don’t have any money
Oh, your daddy says he knows that I don’t have any money
Well, tell him this is his last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance
‘Cause a record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance


Casey Jones (The Grateful Dead)
Driving that train, high on cocaine,
Casey Jones you better watch your speed
Trouble ahead, trouble behind
And you know that notion just crossed my mind
This old engine makes it on time
Leaves Central Station ’bout a quarter to nine
Hits River Junction at seventeen two
At a quarter to ten you know it’s travelin’ again


Bang the Drum All Day (Todd Rundgren)
I don’t want to work
I want to bang on the drum all day
I don’t want to play
I just want to bang on the drum all day.


Career Opportunities (The Clash)
They offered me the office, offered me the shop
They said I’d better take anything they’d got
Do you wanna make tea at the BBC?
Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?
Career opportunities, the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock
Career opportunities, the ones that never knock


Working in a Coal Mine (Devo)
Workin’ in the coal mine
Goin’ on down, down
Workin’ in a coal mine
Oops, about to slip down
Workin’ in a coal mine
Goin’ on down, down
Workin’ in a coal mine
Oops, about to slip down
Five o’clock in the mornin’
I’m already up and gone
Lord, I’m so tired
How long can this go on?


Back on the Chain Gang (The Pretenders)
I found a picture of you, oh oh oh oh
What hijacked my world that night
To a place in the past
We’ve been cast out of? Oh oh oh oh
Now we’re back in the fight
We’re back on the train
Oh, back on the chain gang


Desire (U2)

(More for the spirit – once the Day 1 excitement and buzz fade you’ll need a pick me up)

Lover, I’m off the streets
I’m gonna go where the bright lights
And the big city meet
With a red guitar, on fire

Working Man (Rush)

I get up at seven, yeah,
and I go to work at nine.
I got no time for livin’.
Yes, I’m workin’ all the time.

It seems to me
I could live my life
a lot better than I think I am.
I guess that’s why they call me,
they call me the workin’ man.

Problems (Sex Pistols)

Eat your heart out on a plastic tray
You don’t do what you want
Then you’ll fade away
You won’t find me working
Nine to five
It’s too much fun being alive


My Shot (Hamilton)

I am not throwing away my shot
I am not throwing away my shot
Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot
I’m ‘a get a scholarship to King’s College
I prob’ly shouldn’t brag, but dag, I amaze and astonish
The problem is I got a lot of brains but no polish
I gotta holler just to be heard
With every word, I drop knowledge
I’m a diamond in the rough, a shiny piece of coal
Tryin’ to reach my goal my power of speech, unimpeachable
Only nineteen but my mind is older
These New York City streets get colder, I shoulder
Every burden, every disadvantage
I have learned to manage, I don’t have a gun to brandish
I walk these streets famished
The plan is to fan this spark into a flame
But damn, it’s getting dark, so let me spell out the name
I am the A-L-E-X-A-N-D-E-R we are meant to be